Mammalampa honours crafts, tradition and materials with exclusive lamp collections
Made to accentuate the unique personality of every space, Mammalampa’s handcrafted lamp collections are ones to admire
In a world overwhelmed by mass production, handcrafted objects become a rare find to be treasured and admired. This uniqueness can be found in Mammalampa’s designs, where crafts and the use of materials honors traditions, light, and femininity.
Mammalampa is a light design company born with the purpose to make a brighter world, with clear values comprised of social inclusivity, the passing of craft traditions through generations, and the particular highlight of the female role in the company, as is that Mammalampa’s name comes from the word ‘mamma’, mother in Italian.
Each of Mammalapa’s products has an identity given by the diverse materiality and craftsmanship used to produce every collection. From braided paper to painted canvas, and gold plated to Swarovski crystal lamp shades, every lamp becomes a piece to be admired in any space.
In this interview, DesignWanted had the opportunity to talk with the Creative Director of Mammalampa, Ieva Kalēja, who shared some insights on how the design of the lamps come to life, how craft and heritage are a key elements for the brand, and how each material is unique and as a result each piece has its own individual characteristics.
What is Mammalampa? How did the journey for lamps design begin?
“Mammalampa’s story started after I graduated from the Domus Academy in Milan. I aspired to combine my professional education with my humane ideas – to make the world a brighter place for people. It is through creating light that I see how best to raise the overall vibration on Earth.
In contrast to the design of a lot of other products where functionality and ergonomics play a crucial role, this irrational and emotional aspect is very important in lighting design.
My family members have been involved in creating the company including my mum, sister and dad, who, as an electrical engineer, was able to help with the production of lighting fixtures, and we are still a family business.
As a family, we are also in a position to implement these humane ideas and embody humane aspects both in the production process and in the products, instead of creating a design in front of a computer, doing so by living, loving and seeing. Creating things made by people, not machines. Our products have a powerful identity, character and individuality. They are personalities that create an emotional bond with the object in the user.”
Why Mammalampa, why focusing on the natural beauty of each material with minimal technological intervention?
“Our company name is “Mammalampa”, which fully expresses the essence of our products and ourselves, who make these products. This capacious name “Mamma” (mum) encompasses our value system. It brings together both our philosophy, going back to our roots, to nature, accompanied by the aspect of heritage.
Mammalampa lamps are made from natural materials using minimal technological means. They are primarily done through manual labour, with primitive material processing or even untreated materials.
Mammalampa does not see perfection or an ideal as assets, but rather truth and authenticity – we accentuate the original beauty of things and materials, which can be lost in modern manufacturing processes in the pursuit of formal, aesthetic, or technological perfection. We use nature, not by imitating its form or borrowing its structure for mechanics, but instead using the genuine nature, its uniqueness and oneness… the truthfulness and freshness it offers.
Everybody has a mother, but every mother is unique. All mothers perform one and the same function, but each has her own unique character. Everybody has an individual and personal relationship with their mother. These are the emotional qualities that are crucial to our design. As for heritage, our mission is to find ways to elevate the traditions of natural materials processing and artisans’ skills to a new level of contemporary performance with the passing of craft traditions to future generations, because, with the advent of technology, many craft skills are lost.
Our employees are mostly senior citizens, our mums and dads as well as their friends. This is because the skills of working with one’s hands and affinity with natural materials are precisely the older generation’s strengths. This is how we nurture a fulfilled life and make people feel needed. Social inclusion is an extremely important aspect for us.”
The different collections of Mammalampa have names attributed to femininity and women in general. What is the purpose or feeling Mammalampa wants to convey through its designs?
“A feminine approach dominates lamps design. It is the task of light and mothers, the task of women to be at the heart of things. People gravitate towards light and mothers. In order for people to converge around something, it must have very strong magnetic energy. It is precisely these different energetic characteristics that we want to accent.
Women are intuition and emotion. Although the need for many products and services has already been satisfied more than adequately, there are needs that have not yet been satisfied, and these will be met by producing not more, but by producing differently.
This applies to our need for air, space, silence, beauty, time and human contact. Mass production makes things more available to a wider range of people, but the negative flip side of this is that these products are impersonal, because machines can produce everything except personality.
People are still enclosed within their natural bodies, they are biological beings and part of natural processes. Every person has their own DNA, everyone is a personality, and everyone has got their own character, which is why people need items that are personalities, items with character. This is a story about the relationship between nature and man, and about human nature, which needs living things.”
The ‘Bride’ collection is made mainly of paper while the ‘Queen’ collection is gold plated. What are style inclinations that, above all, will always represent the studio?
“Mammalampa’s signature style is exemplified by the audacious use of traditional materials and design solutions. Our specific approach celebrates handcrafted or naturally created accents. There is always something spontaneous in our designs. For me, the designing process is synonymous with dialogue with materials and I never know where this conversation ends.
Through the natural corrosion process, which we have perfected and refined over the years, we are able to create one of the most beautiful and aesthetically pleasing rusts in the world. However, the process of creating it is long and occasionally unpredictable. For example, we know that the growth of rust depends on the phase of the moon.
Likewise, in the case of The Bride, it is almost impossible to replicate the braid identically, and as a consequence, each lamp has its own unique facial features. Compared to the design of a chair or an airplane, where ergonomics and function are much more important than appearance, with lamps you can experiment with materials and attitude towards things.
I doubt if anyone would like to fly a rusty airplane. But in lighting design, the spontaneity of natural materials has the perfect medium in which to express itself.”
‘The Duchess’ lamp has Swarovski crystals. What are the key elements of the design of such a refined piece?
“The Duchess is formed from a surprising combination of materials including various forms of stone. In this lamp, the rougher face of stone – marble chips – is offset by the elegant refinement of Swarovski crystal.
Both materials on the lamp’s exterior shell are masterfully combined, creating a unique texture. Although, because it is made from natural stones, the lampshade is really heavy, the sparkling crystals on the bottom edge magically relieve this weighty feeling.
Suspended from the ceiling, this heavy lamp creates the illusion that it defies gravity, and literally pulls you into another cosmic vibration, transcending everyday reality. The crystals coat the edges of the stones spontaneously and are extremely textured so that the angle and moment at which the crystal sparkles are unpredictable, giving this lamp extra magic.”
The colourful collection called ‘The Sisters’ shows unique combinations of contrasting tones, is it possible to request other colour combinations?
“What makes The Sisters lamps special and unique is their ability to adapt to any room.
Such is their richness of colour that it is not only possible to create just about any tonal range, but do so in a highly nuanced manner. The result is a genuine painting. No matter how specific the colours in a room are, this is the ideal solution, because you can adjust the lamp accordingly.
Custom RAL means you can purchase a lamp in any colour you wish. The Sisters in our collection are characterized by refined, nuanced and painterly colour relationships. Our contemporary design lamps are made in the manner of traditional paintings – a canvas painted with colour nuances and brushstrokes. These exquisite brushstrokes give the painting on each lamp its own inimitable character.
Each lampshade is unique after being handmade exclusively by Mammalampa’s professional craft masters. The texture of their cloth and colours generates a warm and cosy mood, accentuating the finish of the cloth and brushstrokes. During the day, the painted colour is dominant, but when the lamp is turned on when there is less surrounding light, a completely new textural dimension appears as a courtesy of the difference in the thickness of the applied colours.”
Among Mammalampa collections, ‘The Bride’ is one that catches the eye by materiality and the way it allows light to pass through. Could you explain to us how is it made and how this idea came to life?
“The idea for this lamp was born of a dream. One night, it came to me of its own accord in response to a request for a more delicate and sensual space. It is not the fruit of painstaking planning, based on rational research or marketing considerations.
This braided lamp The Bride is most definitely a lamp with a gender – the atmosphere created by The Bride is truly feminine. This is The Bride – fragile and gentle like the light in each of us. Mammalampa should warn you: when you switch on this lamp, your inner lamp and light story may unfold without.
The Bride’s “dress” is created from paper presenting this traditional lamp material in a unique design solution. As light shines through the paper, you will find yourself infused by an aura of airy lightness; almost as if this splendid lamp was not subject to the law of gravity.
The delicate texture of the paper creates a subtle play of shadows and light, transforming any space into a cosy and inviting retreat. This is definitely a unique lamp, emotional and an exemplary feminine lighting design. Entirely handmade, each Bride lamp has its own braid pattern and unique personality. Each Bride interacts with the light and space in her own inimitable way, resulting in a highly emotional lighting design.”
With a diverse collection of lamps in the market, what is the next step for Mammalampa?
“For a long time now, design has tried to be perfected, which explains why it’s a bit boring. Mammalampa products have a strong identity, character and individuality. They are personalities that create an emotional bond with the object in the consumer.
We will continue to follow this path because in an age in which the virtual environment, artificial intelligence and technological production are an integral part of our lives, this humane aspect assumes a new and very important role. Instead of following trends, we will continue to create unique and humane design that epitomises the age, with emotion prevailing over function and aesthetics.
We will be the answer for those tired of plastic and technology. Our challenge is to find a material, technology and motif that people have not yet declared to be valuable. To discover something that is primal, and still open to interpretation, in order to transform and exhibit it in an unusual context.
More often than not, the things that are truly inspiring are right here at arm’s length; you simply have to be able to see them from a new design perspective. Sometimes, the result can be a bit magical.”