When Karl Zahn debuted his ‘Momentum’ collection of mobiles and stabiles during last year's NYCxDesign week, it was pretty much love at first sight. This year, the young designer has come back with an assortment of new additions to the series that are installed in the showroom windows of custom hardware manufacturer ER Butler & Co in New York. Hung in four large ornamental vitrines, Zahn’s new pieces expand on the ideas of movement and balance that he so poetically addressed last year.
This year’s objects expose an even more refined way about things than their predecessors. 'I wanted to clarify some of the concepts and make things clean, work well and try some different compositions and scales,' explains Zahn. Simple hanging pieces, such as a pair of flat wooden semi-circles, take on a noble aura thanks to the fine, near-invisible chains that connect them as they suspend in the air. In another vitrine, a hammered brass ellipse floats under a smooth, wafer plate of brass, exuding a jewellery-like preciousness just on a larger scale.
More than just beautiful objects in space, the unseen appeal of Zahn’s pieces lies in the fact that when touched, the ornamental sculptures take on a life of their own. Polished brass wings teeter on top of wooden teardrop forms, while a larger scale variation of ‘The Trees and the Clouds’ from last year is comprised of wood pendulums which are encircled by plates of metal that hover closely, but never touch. Some even reveal characters, with their stoic rocking or graceful turns.
Still an active designer in Lindsey Adelman’s studio, Zahn’s self-motivated 16-piece collection includes several spherical lights of his own creation. Many of the works also toy with the ideas of light and reflections. 'Playing with polished surfaces, you get a liveliness just by the reflective quality of the light. They activate a room by flickering all over the ceiling. It’s a different way of making things move, without actually making things move.'
Lighting designer by day and artist by night, Karl Zahn is just the kind of double act we like to see.