There are two types of great designers: those who pluck beauty out of thin air, and those who transform the uninspiring into the extraordinary. James Wines, founder of SITE (the New York–based architecture firm known for its seminal series of abstract and dilapidated buildings for the discount store chain BEST in the 1970s), is often described as the latter sort. Take his Light Bulb Series, originally designed in collaboration with Italian lighting manufacturer Foscarini for the 1991 Verona exhibition Abitare il tempo. Now Wines has reimagined his original incandescent light bulbs as five collectible, irreverent fixtures: the Plant Light, Melting Light, White Light, Black Light, and Candle Light (which consists of a conventional wax-dripping candle jammed into a glass bulb).
“I have always been intrigued by the challenge of finding ways to change objects very little on a physical level but a great deal on a psychological level,” Wines says. “Naturally, the light bulb is a perfect universal icon for transformation.”
This month, Foscarini revives Wines’s series with spin-offs of the Black Light and White Light, which can be purchased separately or as a complementary set. As Wines continues to expand the series—his next goal is to reconfigure the classic dining room chandelier—he reaffirms the relevance of everyday objects through artistic reinterpretation. “Wines’s restless curiosity cannot help but remind me of the desire [not only] to do things better,” says Foscarini’s president, Carlo Urbinati. “but also to do them differently.”