Martin Pierce moved with his wife Anne to Los Angeles in 1980 and threw himself into the work he loved: creating architectural design. Over the years he has released collections reflecting both his English roots and his love of Art Nouveau. The pieces created range from door handles to architectural lighting and hardware to furniture, all retaining the organic forms and far eastern flavors of Art Nouveau without falling to the level of mere repetition and recreation. His works are the result of an active practice and not a simple revivalism, striking a delicate balance between appreciating the past and looking to the future.
The works of Art Nouveau are fraught with the fantastical and phantasmagorical and Pierce’s latest additions to his lighting collection clearly lie in that tradition. What is contemporary in them is the generation of their inspiration which lies in the novel series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin, more popularly referred to as Game of Thrones. Specifically, he was moved by the idea of the dragon’s eggs given to Daenerys, known, among other titles, as The Mother of Dragons. The beautifully written descriptions of these eggs can’t help but inspire creation, in this case a filigreed wall sconce whose pendulous form glows a deep red or a bright white as if they were lighted from within by the very heat of the story’s nascent lizards. The dragon’s egg sconce is one of three created in this way, the second being a cylindrical patterned piece, and the third done in a floral motif.
It is not only the appearance of the luminaires that combines the past and the present, but the technique by which the designs were developed as well. Pierce is very comfortable working with old school techniques such as lost wax and turning on a lathe, but for these pieces he turned, in part, to 3D printing. This helped him to apply himself to the detail work that he truly enjoys and saved him the expenditure of energy on preparation. After creating a pattern for the gourd shape by turning the wooden blank on a lathe, he then scanned the resultant form and created a 3D print from the digital file. The 3D printed pieces were produced as hollow forms, saving Pierce the effort of hollowing them out and leaving him more time to dedicate to the higher level carving tasks.
The use of 3D printing isn’t the only way that technology has made a difference in the pieces he produces. He has created a line of colorfully lighted door handles that use newly developed miniature low voltage lamps. As Pierce explained:
“[This technology] helped blur the line between door handles and door lighting and the small gauge of these low voltage wires makes it easier to hard wire these hybrid fixtures. If you can wire your front door for an electric lock, then why not for a color changing door handle?”
The fascination with the latest in technology and the long history of traditional creation blends beautifully, offering designers and architects an opportunity to integrate carefully considered and expertly executed pieces that serve to enhance an attitude of artful beauty in any space. Even if you don’t happen to be The Mother of Dragons. Discuss in the Dragon Egg forum at 3DPB.com.[Images courtesy of Martin Pierce]
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