In the mid-1990s, a lamp by Pablo Pardo began appearing in hip restaurants in San Francisco and New York. Composed of a teardrop-shaped, cast aluminum body and a sandblasted shade, the Sophie Lamp turned an ordinary tabletop into a dreamscape for intimate conversations. Venezuelan-born Pardo comes from a family of designers, and his work is deceptively simple, often made from no more than a couple of materials, beautifully crafted and devoid of superfluous details. Once in use, however, his lamps take on a new character that is more experiential than simply visual. It is the experience rather than the look of an object that Pardo seeks in his designs. Trained as an industrial designer, Pardo cut his design teeth at DaimlerChrysler and Toylab (a San Diego–based toy consultancy) before opening his own studio in 1993. Since his first acclaimed designs, such as the Sophie Lamp and the Piccola Lamp, a witty leather beanbag of a table lamp that leans and sways like a drunken boxer (and the winner of ID Magazine Annual Review), Pardo’s designs have increased in technical sophistication without losing their pure form and poetic effects. His IO Task Lamp, for instance, is on par with the best Italian lighting yet retains the wit and personality often lacking in contemporary design. “My goal is not to design another beautiful object,” Pardo states. “It’s about challenging how we see things.” Pardo’s designs shed new light on how we view our world.
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