A Decade of Design – ILANEL Design Studio
Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Photography Ilanel & Tom Ross for the NGV
Words Hayley Curnow

Embracing a human-centred approach to lighting, ILANEL Design Studio celebrates a decade of visionary design, continuing founder Ilan El’s legacy as one of Australia’s leading luminaire designers and makers.

In 2020, the Melbourne lighting atelier celebrated its 10-year anniversary, moving from strength to strength despite global and local challenges. “We were fortunate to be able to work through and have a great deal of success in a year of Australian and Melbourne Covid-19 lockdowns,” reflects founder and director Ilan El. In doing so, ILANEL supported many other local artisans and businesses while expanding its reach into new and exciting territories.

Ilan established ILANEL Design Studio in 2010. A multi-disciplinary designer with an interest in experiential illumination, Ilan completed a Masters of Design at RMIT, where he investigated the effects of interactive lighting on psychological and emotional wellbeing – a theme he continues to contemplate in his work. ILANEL’s original products and bespoke designs are made by hand from the studio’s Melbourne atelier and go on to illuminate spaces around the world. 10 years on, ILANEL continues to pursue the illuminating and experiential properties of light across many sectors.

While unable to celebrate the 10-year anniversary in typical fashion due to Covid-19 restrictions, ILANEL seized new opportunities to mark this significant milestone. Ilan collaborated with renowned graffiti artists Chuck Mayfield to reimagine the façade of ILANEL’s St Kilda studio into a “graphic glowing depiction of light and life”. A new look-book was also released, featuring a decade of visions that have shaped ILANEL Design Studio, combining current and past products and collections alongside a curation of international projects.

By necessity, the studio kept a low profile in 2020, yet behind closed doors, it was business as usual. The atelier undertook several new commissions, including 200 custom-designed Silo pendant lights for Caydon’s residential development ‘Coppins Corner,’ located in the industrial Malt District. Home to Melbourne’s iconic Nylex clock, the twin-cylindrical pendants take inspiration from the heritage-listed silos, featuring a series of slots referencing the silos’ ladders. A key commission was ILANEL’s bespoke grand chandelier for The Como Hotel in Perth – a contemporary, art-deco inspired entry light combining antique brass rings and ribbed droplets in a tiered arrangement. The Nebula wall light, commissioned by a local client, was a year-long development resulting in a piece that captures swirls of dusty clouds within its cast glass slabs.

ILANEL also launched a few new products including a minimal yet intricate wall sconce, Snowball, and the highly customisable linear pendant, Comet, with a selection of hand-blown decorative glass beads. Venturing into homeware design, the team released the Cannon Vase, a personal and somewhat nostalgic piece. Each product skilfully combines advanced technological manufacturing with artisanal craftsmanship to deliver experience-enhancing outcomes. One of the highlights for ILANEL in 2020 was a commission for the National Gallery of Victoria’s permanent collection. The conceptual luminaire, ‘Ora: an interactive eclipse’, was launched at the NGV’s 2020 Triennial. Mediating between light and darkness through transparent colour, “The work draws associations with the development of psychological inquiry and the growing awareness of environmental factors on human emotions and behaviours,” explains Simone LeAmon, Curator of Contemporary Design and Architecture at National Gallery of Victoria.

The commissioned piece comprises a wall-mounted black disc with automated lightwork moving through the visible light spectrum. Coloured light is emitted as a halo effect in a durational display over three minutes. “I am constantly drawn towards the way design affects people and my ability as a designer to create spatial experiences,” Ilan explains. “With the ability to highlight, shift mood, create ambience and have a strong presence as a design object in its own right, lighting is the ultimate design challenge.”

Indeed, an experiential approach to light and human experience is the creative hallmark of Ilan’s practice, unifying ILANEL’s endeavours across product, project and experimental works. In 2020 alone, ILANEL has maintained clarity of vision and achieved wonderful successes. If this prosperity was possible amidst the choppy waters of 2020, ILANEL’s next decade looks bright.

A Decade Of Design – Ilanel Design Studio – Project Feature – The Local Project Image 21
Published 1 April, 2021
Photography  Ilanel & Tom Ross for the NGV
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