Wood Work by Karen Ryan



Milan 08: designer Karen Ryan installed her Wood Work lighting installation made from wood and acrylic offcuts at Spazio Rossana Orlandi.


The assemblages were lit with independent lamps also made from offcuts which could be moved around the composition, altering the shadows and reflections.


"I use discarded materials in my work out of necessity, poetry and politics," says Ryan.


See more work by Karen Ryan on Dezeen:

Untitled lights
Unmade 07


Here's some text about the project from Ryan:


‘WOOD WORK’ Lights — a series in offcuts by Karen Ryan

‘WOOD WORK’ Lights is an intuitive response in my own obsessions, derived from my fascination and intrigue with offcuts and their inherent beauty. An intrigue that started at school in my wood work class as I conformed in the making of a coffee table with a tiled insert top, practising my skills with mortise and tenon joints while day dreaming of unstructured structures.


These unstructured structures that I have made with wood and Perspex offcuts are lit externally by light boxes that can be placed anywhere, creating multiple reflections both in colours and forms.


‘WOOD WORK’ Lights contain the negatives discarded by other designer makers and artists. The accidental; the unwanted; the discarded is my starting point.











Posted on Thursday May 1st 2008 at 1:56 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • J

    The feeling of motion in this work reminds me a little bit of Zaha’s paintings. http://www.guggenheim.org/hadid/images/highlights1.jpg

  • Megascale

    It feels as though the addition of a light is some sort of justification for the piece. Why not just leave it as a chaotic assemblage?

    Maybe the photos don’t tell the whole story.

  • amsam

    this might be art but it is definitely not design

  • K. Rimane

    what a mess.

  • tommi

    i dont like Untitled stuff

  • bobby smith

    seriously, why is this even on the site. it’s trash, literally and figuartively. its ludicris. how about i send some photos of all the scrap chipboard, foam core, and PETG i hot glue from the models i make?? total rubbish.

  • Bonzo

    I agree. Utter Nonsense.

  • Joaquin

    Despite all the pluses and minuses, I find it interesting and critic-evoking. Nothing’s worse than indifference when it comes to art and design. FYI, trashes were made art since Pollock, so pls don’t give naive comments. In art and design, there’s no true beauty or ugliness. “Beauty’s in the eye of the beholder.” Said Goethe. Just make sure the work keeps the eyes on it.

  • C-UniT

    Nah man, this ain’t it, know what i’m sayin? this is some whack design art ting dat has no appeal for me whatsoever . Word

  • mvb

    I don’t like the end result because it seems the designer don’t use any rule to create the whole composition. It would be more interesting to see the assemble process.

  • Moose

    Yeah, it does evoke a very Zaha Hadid-esque vibe.

    The Peak, anyone?

  • Nick


  • Anica

    its visually intriguing… and the rest is history.

  • rt

    This is the kind of crap that won’t go away if people keep covering it, it really is the kind of stuff the design community should never give a second look at… there’s nothing clever about piling up useless materials in a useless way and shining a light on it because it makes shadows and reflections. She’s really just created more of “The accidental; the unwanted; the discarded” and added a title.

  • gisli

    I wouldn’t even give this a penny of the credit Zaha Hadid deserves for her early work like “The Peak.” That was a relatively founded investigation for which she did numerous paintings and interpretations in a somewhat coherent standard.

    This, on the other hand, is just a scrap model; not even a good one. I see no rigor, hierarchy, or any other indication that it was anything but taking a few months worth of large scraps and screwing them together.

    If she had simply said “It’s just shit that I put together that looks kind of cool,” I would give her much more respect. But this is just applied meaning at work. Completely insignificant.

  • I find the idea interesting but perhaps a bit too close to what german artist http://www.daimgallery.com/ and http://www.loomit.de does in terms of color, shape and dynamics – the lights added to the piece makes it look incomplete and as if the artist was in a hurry to finish it off. It’s hardly a piece worth debating and definitely not a piece worth of typing a comment to… but here they both are anyway.

  • selina

    wow well for me to compare this piece of leftovers composed together with zaha’s paintings is a HUGE insult to zaha’s work. her paintings are amazing in terms of use of perspective and deformation. this piece surely has its right to exist but it stands in a complete different light. still i am missing the overall intention.

  • georgia

    Sadly, I feel indifferent…

    This is so unfamiliar of Karen’s past projects, “custom made” and “second hand”, both beautiful and compelling (r.e.)viewing.

    We can all have all have moments of madness… I know I do but I would rather keep mine on the page. However, I guess Karen is doing something right, from the number of responses she’s receiving.

    Zaha Hadid paintings? Someone have the decency to tell her to stick to architecture.

  • IJ

    To all the critiques,
    I happen to own a T-shirt that reads “Fear No Art”. Are you so threatened that you need to call it trash, nonsense, etc. Well, just because you weren’t inspired, doesn’t mean that others weren’t. If you can do better, PLEASE DO! Soooooooooooo FEAR NO ART!

  • georgia


    I rather not have an opinion but just believe in a T-shirt slogan….doh!

  • selina

    i think the previous work show by Karen Ryan was much more compelling and interesting.. but with this here i must say.. it drives me a bit nuts if people call this piece here art. it can be whatever but don’t call it art just because it has something “unintentional” or “surprisingly” in it.
    its not about fearing art, its about the definition of art.
    furthermore i wanna say that this forum here works as a platform for discussion – for positive as well as critical content. and what happens here sometimes is that people are neglecting the critical part and praising the own fake openness towards art just because they don’t understand.

  • @IJ: Well congrats – with a t-shirt like that it sure makes you the clear minded here. I am not going to lecture you what it mean to debate on a blog – but I am sure you grasp the concept since you are doing it as well. The concept of being threatened in this context is far from having any truth to it – since the majority of the people criticizing the work feels unprovoked in any sense and feels more that another 20 second time waste has hit them. Sure we could have looked at the post picture on the front page and decided if this was something we desired to engage in.

  • Dguy

    Dude, all I need now is a chop/ band saw, heat gun and wire!–And Im famouse!

    (But I like it in a perverse, distorted- non design way!)

  • sb

    It’s good to get out of your design caves and consider this in an art context also. Art and design work together at all times. This is no more design than anything that certain designers like Studio Job/Jamie Hayon/Wanders/Droog produce.

    Her work is much like the work of Jessica Stockholder.
    Most of Stockholders stuff is very architectural but she also has some smaller furniture scale stuff like the stuff Ryan is doing in this blog post. I like how personal in size it is, how much it relates to the space much like a piece of furniture would.

    Comments like this just need to be not posted. It is a waste of everyone’s time. I think all of us are more interested in a conversation about the piece.

    “# tommi Says:
    May 1st, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    i dont like Untitled stuff”

  • sb
  • Very impressive art work. I love originality especially when it’s in an art that isn’t very common at all. I personally like to do impressionistic oil paintings, but I would love to learn how to do woodwork art like you have done. Keep up the good work!