A Chandelier Visualizing the DNA of Its Designer
June 21, 2012
Lucas Maassen is a family man. The Dutch furniture designer made news last spring when he opened up Maassen & Sons, a furniture factory with two sole employees: his three sons, all aged between nine and seven.
Commissioned by Vitra Design Museum to collaborate on a project with Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche, Maassen began the project with a simple question: “ is it possible to use the biological process that created me as a design process to create an object?”
He had Roche sequence his DNA and produce synthetic versions of the fragments, visible only underneath a microscope. Viennese crystal manufacturer Lobmeyr created super-sized versions of the fragments, hung to form a chandelier. Maassen learned that his genetic makeup is a mixture of his parents’ own sequencing. That discovery proved meaningful for the designer: His parents had divorced early, leaving him an only child. In a way, the chandelier visualized a sibling he had never known.
As part of the unveiling of the work, Maassen staged a performance where his parents assembled a chandelier from one thousand of the crystals. Slowly, piece by piece, his mom and dad “remake” their child in crystal form. Maassen named the chandelier Valerie, after the name his parents would have given him had he been born a girl. It’s also a kind of memorial to the sister he never had.
“Ultimately, this project is about the visualization of life. DNA is the basic code of life, an essential part of every organism,” the designer writes on his website.
Images courtesy of Mike Roelofs.