Made On Earth — Machine Soul

Craft & Design


German designer and furniture maker Frank Buchwald says he’s fascinated by the “uncompromising functionality of machines,” and he prefers to experience it raw, unobscured by exteriors of mawkish or overly pleasing design.

Machine artifacts from the industrial age best epitomize the raw quality that captivates Buchwald. His Machine Lights series of sculptural lamps consists of 12 different models, handmade from up to 200 individual parts over a period of at least four weeks. Materials include burnished steel, brushed brass, textile cables, and blown glass.


Before he began designing furniture and lights, Buchwald worked as an illustrator and painter. To this day he begins his projects with sketches so he can remain free to follow ideas, impressions, and associations as they arise. This nascent, spontaneous phase is crucial, he says, in finding out “the essence, the character of a new object.”

While they have the appearance of romantically arcane technologies, the Machine Lights also have a creature-like feel to them. Buchwald cites the converging influences of art, architecture, and the natural world as responsible for his lamps’ “techno-biological character.”

Buchwald sees a hidden principle at work in the world of machines. “An independent reality, removed from human access, exists behind the manifest appearance of mechanical objects,” he explains. It’s this principle, the secret nature of mechanical reality, that he attempts to examine and expose with his Machine Lights series.

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