Trick of the light. The fascination of optical illusions.

The young Japanese designers who set up studio YOY in 2011 have a great line in optical illusions – and they’ve already won many awards. Naoki Ono and Yuki Yamamoto make really tricksy lamps and sofas, while their vases hide among the ‘foliage’. On #TalentsTuesday we took a look at the designs that set Ambiente 2015 alight. If seeing is believing, that is.

Why do moths flock to the light?
It’s quite simple. They’re attracted to warmth and to an illusion, and people do the same. The light that drew us in is a table lamp designed by Ambiente talents Naoki Ono (33) and Yuki Yamamoto (30). When it’s switched on, a lampshade made from light appears on the wall and an LED in the straight metal rod replicates the base of the lamp. This playful light fitting radiates peace and clarity. The designers explain: “We would like to create strange feelings with humour in an ordinary room.”


Green grow the rushes, O …
… among the books so fair, O. Finding yucca plants alongside Shakespeare, Dickens and Harry Potter is like something from a fairytale. And they make you smile – these designer vases that are pretending to be books. Inside them grow wallflowers – sorry, shelf flowers! Just as books often hide treasures within their pages, these vases conceal natural gems that shine out from bookshelves. Why not plant a touch of poisonous greenery among the crime novels, or tasty tidbits between the cookbooks?


More lamps, but this time they’re …
… flat as a pancake! YOY Studio makes these from A2 sheets of delicate paper – either white, black or striped. Two horizontal slits permit a rounded projection to emerge between them. All you need to install this on the wall is a couple of drawing pins. Put an LED inside, and let there be light! Then there’s the ‘Peel’ design: the corner of a plexiglas panel has been turned over like a dog ear on a book, with light streaming from directly behind the ‘ear’. It’s really tempting to pull at the bright corner. “We tried to make a new story between a product and a space”, explains Naoki Ono at the Ambiente stand, and leaves us observers to find out how the story ends. Then again we have the austere Swing LED lamp, which is just the tip of the trompe-l’œil iceberg. It shines in a simulated swinging movement, seemingly frozen. Time stands still. We think these designs are light years ahead of their time.

Wall lamp-Paper-LED-talents-Ambiente-3

And there’s more?
Here’s a fine illusion, with a hint of Alice in Wonderland. You could slip through a painting into a topsy-turvy world. The seat is painted onto canvas, the picture is leaning against the wall and you can come and sit ‘in it’. That’s just what we did at the Talents stand. The Japanese designers made the real seat from wood and aluminium. It comes as either a chair or a sofa. It’s true this idea isn’t new to the art world, but it has been installed here with skill and humour.