Dezeen Magazine

Totem lights by Max Enrich for Casa Batllo

Max Enrich sculpts lamps from upholstery foam for Gaudí's Casa Batlló

Pastel-coloured upholstery foam is cut into geometric totems to form a series of floor lights, created by Barcelona designer Max Enrich to contrast with the organic architecture of Antoni Gaudí.

Simply called Totem, the collection encompassing five lamps was commissioned as a homage to Gaudí's Casa Batlló while the building remains closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Blue foam Totem light by Max Enrich in Casa Batlló
The Totem collection was designed for Gaudí's Casa Batlló

"I was invited to create a project for these weird times, as the house is shut down," Enrich told Dezeen.

"I was considering a few ideas until I got there. The place is magnificent and its details and forms are imposing so I was considering projects that blend in with this space," he continued.

"But I realised I was doing it wrong. It wasn't about competing with the house but rather about creating an opposite: non-integration."

Cuboid pink foam light photographed in Casa Batlló
The lights are sculpted from upholstery foam

Today a UNESCO World Heritage site, Casa Batlló is a residential building on Barcelona's prestigious Passeign de Gràcia that was remodelled in 1906 by Gaudí (1852-1926), the Catalan architect who also designed the Sagrada Família basilica.

Nicknamed locally "casa dels ossos" ("house of bones"), the building is a leading example of the modernisme style and features slender columns and sinuously sculpted stonework, with few straight lines found in the entire structure.

Enrich designed the lamps to contrast this space.

Blue, green and white Totem lights by Max Enrich
Their clean, geometric lines stand in contrast to the surrounding architecture

"The most noticeable aspect of the house are the organic shapes of the walls and ceilings," Enrich explained.

"Every detail is amazing. Even the door pulls and handles were designed specifically for the project and the walls are hand-painted. So I found the foam, as plain as it is, the most contrarian material to what the house is."

Green, pyramid shaped foam light photographed in Casa Batlló
Their colours were chosen to look deliberately artificial

To create the lights, foam was manually cut and glued together, creating stacks of simple, geometric forms, from cubes to cylinders and pyramids.

Colours range from butter yellow to baby pink and blue and were deliberately chosen for their "artificiality".

LEDs were integrated into the top of each design, projecting light upwards while the electrical wiring is embedded into the heart of the structure.

Man Enrich carries pink foam light but the stairs of Casa Batlló
The collection was photographed by Claudia García-Mauriño inside Casa Batlló

No stranger to playing with contrasts, Enrich has previously created a trio of steel nesting tables with bulky legs and slender surfaces.

Photography is by Claudia García-Mauriño.