August 16, 2018

Behind the Design:
Rick Tegelaar's Meshmatics Pendant for Moooi

Dutch designer Rick Tegelaar is just entering his thirties, yet his impressive portfolio of products and blossoming partnership with design powerhouse Moooi would have you thinking otherwise. Experiments with intricate patterns, chicken wire, mesh and 3D printing have ushered Tegelaar to prolific new heights in the lighting world. We sat down with Rick back in 2017 at Euroluce in Milan to chat machinery, Moooi and his stunning new fixture Meshmatics.

What was your path to becoming a lighting designer?

Before I studied design, I studied Mechanical Engineering. I learned how to use a lathe, how to make things with my hands, with machines. After a while, Mechanical Engineering began to feel rigid, there are too many rules. So, I decided to study Industrial Design. I went to school at ArtEZ University of the Arts in Arnhem, where I developed a technique to sculpt and shape wire mesh. This was one of my first forays into lighting design and it’s influenced much of what I do today.

How exactly do you design with something like wire mesh?

It’s very much like a Chinese finger trap, you make a tunnel over a mold, stretch it, bend it, stretch it … There wasn’t an easy to way to do this, and my Mechanical Engineering brain kicked in and I thought ‘I can make a machine to do this.’ This sped up the process significantly.

How did you become involved with Moooi?

I was introduced to Moooi co-founder Casper Vissers through a mutual business partner, and he really liked what I was doing with wire and mesh. That lead to the Filigree floor lamp, which we launched in 2016. From there, I continued designing on my own - exhibiting at Downtown Design in Dubai - and my booth happened to be close to other Moooi co-founder, Marcel Wanders. He saw my design for Meshmatics and was stunned I hadn’t shown it to him before. It all happened very fast - before Filigree even launched, we were talking Meshmatics. As a designer, it’s a very exciting moment in my career.

What is your overarching philosophy and approach to design?

I’m really into these historic transmissions from the ‘20s and ‘30s. There’s a lovely film by Ralph Steiner that’s essentially a compilation of mechanical principles. My mission as a designer is to show how elegant and graceful engineering solutions and materials can be. I’m fascinated by tectonic technologies, celebrating the construction. When designing, I almost never sketch, I build models - over and over and over. I never start with aesthetic. Over time, these models evolve. I’m very critical on myself, and I tend to generate options, sleep on them, tweak them, reform them. It’s an ongoing process. I love when - in the end - I surprise myself with something totally different than what I started with.

I’m fascinated by tectonic technologies, celebrating the construction.

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