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rules of style MICHAEL

The London-based lighting designer and sculptor shares his blueprint for life and design.

Words by Natalie Hughes.

Simplicity is paramount to Michael Anastassiades, in both work and life. The designer is known for his strikingly minimalist lights, but he is prolific in the areas of sculpture, furniture and objects, too – some of his creations are on display at galleries from London’s V&A to New York’s MoMA.

Anastassiades favours a stripped-back aesthetic in his work and personal style, devoid of branding and overly engineered elements – contrary to assumption perhaps, considering he trained as a civil engineer. The (somewhat literal) light-bulb moment came in 1994, when Anastassiades launched his own studio. ‘If you were to ask me, I would say that my work is so non-engineered in every sense that I almost feel like I ran away from engineering in order to do design’, he says.

Open Studio at Michael Anastassiades, London.
Left: installation at Euroluce, 2017. Right: Stilleben (2016) by Michael Anastassiades for Galerie Dansk Møbelkunst, Paris.

The engineering industry’s loss was the design world’s gain. Anastassiades has received critical acclaim for his modern lighting designs, which are as much objets d’art as they are functional elements, constructed from glowing spheres and tubes that appear to defy gravity. Among the objects on display at the V&A is his graduation piece, Message Cup. ‘I always have this emotional attachment to the first item that I ever designed,’ he says. ‘It’s a voice recording and playback device. That, for me, is a special piece, maybe because it’s my first piece of design, and sort of expresses my ideas in their purest form.’ The Style Report discovers more.


Be curious

‘I’ve always been passionate about objects around me and how those work, and how they change the space that is surrounding me, and I think that’s probably why and how I started in design.’

Stay inspired

‘I spend a lot of my time in the most uncreative and uninspiring spaces – I spend a lot of time travelling and as a result I find myself stuck in airports and in transit from one place to the next and then, you have to turn it round. You have to find inspiration even in these spaces. I keep my eyes open wherever I am… I tend to get inspired by little things in the most mundane environments.’

Keep things simple

‘I try to strip things [back to] their simplest form. The idea of excess, for me, is noise and is something that distracts your focus and your attention, so when you remove all these frivolous layers of information, this is when ideas become stronger, this is when ideas become more refined. I think for me that’s what defines style – simplicity.’

minimalist appeal

Table Composition (2017) and Floor Composition (2017), by Michael Anastassiades.
Michael Anastassiades in his studio.

Focus on quality

‘I focus on quality and craftsmanship – the way something is made, it has to make sense, it has to be beautiful in that way. These are two elements I look for, whether that is [with] a product that I design or something I wear or use.’

Embrace anonymity

‘I try to be anonymous when it comes to things. I’m not a billboard. So [visually simple] non-branded clothing for me is very important; [I prefer] clothing that does not scream for attention.’

Find inspiration in difference

‘I really admire creativity in every form. I admire things that are very different. I admire people that think in very different ways than I do. What is important for me is to be able to understand how authentic somebody is within their values and ideals when it comes to designing… This is what I admire in different designers.’


Exhibit at Euroluce, 2015.
The Double Dream Of Spring (2016) by Michael Anastassiades for Herman Miller.

Keep creating

‘I used to teach a lot of yoga. My yoga guru, whose name was Pattabhi Jois – he’s the guy who invented ashtanga yoga – he used to say to us, “Practise and all is coming.” You have to keep making things, keep believing in what you do, keep practising.’

Start collection

‘I collect stones. Natural stones. Nothing artificial. Obviously I design a lot of objects made out of stone, but at the same time, I think my biggest passion is collecting stones that I find. Whether I find them myself or I buy them or I believe there’s something special about them, then I collect those.’

Be collaborative

‘I’ve been focused on my own brand of lighting for all these years, so now I’m also enjoying the opportunity of sharing my ideas with other brands. I’m not possessive, I’m not territorial when it comes to my ideas. I believe that every company has something to offer you as a designer.’



PHOTOGRAPH: helene binet.

The Style Report
The Style Report