Tord Boontje
A Light into The Winter Darkness


It is perhaps during these dark, winter months that we look to our designers and artists for inspiration. We search for beauty in the grey and barren or turn inwards to the richness of our imaginations. With their dedicated craftsmanship and talent these designers ignite our imaginations and invite us to explore the beauty between the shadows, they shine a light into the winter darkness.

Words: Michelle Porter

Dutch born designer Tord Boontje is one such luminary, famous for making lighting that is opulent in effect but simple in design. Understanding the transformative power and magic of light he has most famously designed the Garland Light for Habitat, and the Night Blossom Garland for Swarovski ( A favourite of Alexander McQueen's).

Throughout the winter we crave light and being of Nordic origin Tord understands the need to utilise it, to make the most of our homes during this darkest time.

“Light can completely transform the way you experience a space. We recently painted our lounge dark graphite grey and lit it from the side rather than from the ceiling, creating a very warm, relaxing den to retreat in the evening.”

He has a deep understanding of the power and effect of a well designed physical space. During the winter we have a need to climb inside “ when you walk into an amazing room, you are immersed into a designed environment which can be very powerful and inspiring to experience. Whether this is St Paul's Cathedral, a Kern on the Scottish Highlands or your favourite nightclub. This transformative experience can also happen with a small object, for a moment you can be taken away, more like a haiku poem then a complete novel”. When there is nothing outside we turn inwards.This is where imagination comes into play.

Tord's imagination is inspired by fairytale, its dark and beautiful twists and turns. It is no surprise therefore that he worked so seamlessly with the late Alexander McQueen, both in possession of powerful imaginations, both able to see beauty in the darkness or the sinister aspects of objects considered bright. “Yes it definitely helped to understand and relate his universe and work together. With Silent Light, the crystal Christmas Tree that we made for the Victoria and Albert Museum, there is a very interesting mix between the sparkling energy of the crystal and the bare frosted tree, something from an winter landscape but it could also be from a post apocalyptic world”.

As a child Tord loved adventure games and his favourite object was his “pen knife, it was my most precious tool; with it I survived many imaginary desert islands!” Tord's sense of imaginary play has stayed with him as a designer and many of the objects he has designed reflect this sense of fun. With its 616 enamel leaves, his Fig leaf wardrobe pays homage to the adventures of Narnia and the dressed chairs he made with Alexander Mcqueen are exquiste yet retain a sense of the absurd.

Tord's work is more than a collection of beautiful objects, they lighten the mood and inspire our dormant imaginations. In the dark and cold of the winter doldrums we all need someone to throw us a creative line of inspirational light.

“We all need to daydream and escape a little sometimes.” Tord Boontje.

Here's a little bit of light that has inspired Tord - “The Oyster Dress, such a big statement and so clear at the same time, I find this dress extremely beautiful.”

Connor McNally

Author: Connor McNally

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