Raphael Kadid’s designs experiment with light and structure

Among Wallpaper’s ‘Future Icons’, Basel-based Raphael Kadid is an architect by training but is setting the design world alight

Raphael Kadid and his Apollo lamp design
(Image credit: Courtesy Raphael Kadid)

A trained architect, Raphael Kadid works from his Basel studio creating limited-edition objects that range from modular furniture to lighting. Design and architecture have always gone hand in hand for Kadid, who trained as an architect after two years of art school in Paris: ‘I was drawn to the elementary aim of architecture, as an extension of people's activities, as well as for its rationality,' he says. 'We can look at buildings and appreciate their designs, when in the organisation of a well-arranged floor plan lies a more pragmatic beauty.'

From there, design was a natural progression: 'To experiment with forms and materials, not only by drawing shapes, but also by the act of building by hand, was something I found missing [when working in architecture]. Design allows me to work on the essence of an idea, up to its physical transcription,’ he adds.

Raphael Kadid Lamp

‘Oblago’ table lamp, €770

(Image credit: Neil Godwin at Future Studios for Wallpaper*)

Among his works is the ‘Oblago’ lamp (its name an homage to industrial designer Syd Mead, and his 1996 book Oblagon), which he describes as ‘the result of research on “impossible shapes”, ellipsoid geometries’. Made of five aluminium elements (four turned columns and a body carved from a single block of aluminium), the lamp nods to primitive architecture and neo-futurism. 

‘The arrangement of the columns and the lamp’s proportions are purposely ambiguous,’ explains Kadid. ‘While the ratio between columns and body recalls the timeless architecture of dolmens, their position refers to the figure of a trotting horse, bringing motion in the composition, and a certain sense of animality.’

Raphael Kadid design

‘Signal’ Lamp

(Image credit: Courtesy Raphael Kadid)

When asked about the design project that has left the biggest mark so far, he is quick to point to the ‘Signal’ lamp, a 2018 design that features two brass panels mounted on a hollow aluminium structure. The light source is a row of 5mm high-CRI LEDs, placed within the thickness of the blade. 'The idea was to create a standing blade, a very thin lamp, so thin the image of a lamp would disappear,' describes Kadid. 'It became a very complex project because all the parts of the lamp are specific, and need a lot of precision during assembly. My previous objects at the time were for most the result of an experimentation on standard profiles, finding a way to join them, to assemble them.'

In the ‘Signal’ lamp, the light bounces from the inside of the plates, creating different shades of light. 'The lamp is only 6mm wide; in a dark room only a thin black line remains visible on a stripe of light,' explains the designer.

Raphael Kadid design

‘Philae’ modular bookcase, made of aluminium and MDF

(Image credit: Courtesy Raphael Kadid)

Finding inspiration is an intuitive operation for Kadid, who spends a good part of his days gathering images for an art and architecture newsletter titled 'Daily Dose'. This work forms a big part of his inspiration and in turn influences his designs. When asked about his plans for the future, he says: 'To keep on working and exploring different scales of design, and have them inform each other in a coherent manner. From object to architecture and vice versa.'


Raphael Kadid design

‘Espelma’ table lamp

(Image credit: Courtesy Raphael Kadid)

Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.