A corridor of disorienting darkness, pebbles crunching underfoot and an ambient mist of strings reworking a contemporary interpretation of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons arouse the senses. Moments later, an apparition appears – two classical white sculptures wielding British product designer Lee Broom’s ‘Orion’ lights, reflecting from black acrylic mirrors, giving the impression of water. They guard the entrance to an opal-white Polycarbonate lightbox, glowing in an empty concrete car park beneath Space Furniture’s flagship Sydney showroom.

Broom has gained a reputation for creating conceptual installations showcasing his designs in immersive and experiential ways – a testament to his earlier career in theatre. ‘Park Life’ is his largest and most ambitious exhibition to date, celebrating the launch of his ‘Eclipse’ lighting range’s new mirror-polished golden finish (including the chandelier, pendant, table and surface lights). Staging it in Sydney is telling of the brand’s success in the southern hemisphere. ‘I like the idea of presenting in cities we haven’t ventured to before – countries that have supported us over the years,’ Broom explains. ‘Australia has always been a very responsive market’.

Inside Park life by Lee Broom

‘I took the urban surroundings of the car park and created a contemporary interpretation of a traditional 18th-century British pleasure garden instead,’ the designer continues. These gardens were known for their waterfalls, fountain displays and ponds, plus dedicated buildings for musical concerts among other performances. The private parks were places for the aristocracy to mingle and experience the latest in art, music and architecture.

Taking the form of a maze, ‘Park Life’ guides visitors through passageways, over stepping stones, and through a secret door with tableaus and vignettes showcasing the brand’s lighting, furniture and accessories. It includes over 100 individual lights hung in glittering constellations, cascading like waterfalls, and presented solo (as with the ‘Eclipse’ range, to accentuate its seamless technology and halo-like glow) – among theatrically scaled classical busts, bodies and heads. The gazes from these heads strategically guide pathways to new cavities, connecting narratives between more of Broom’s designs: a ‘Drunken’ side table, ‘Podium’ vases, ‘Split’ mirrors, and ‘Fulcrum’ candlesticks. ‘Some areas are very dramatic, some more playful and other areas quite surreal,’ he continues.

Park Life by Lee Broom 2019

A recurring theme in many of Broom’s installations is reflection. Within the maze, mirrors distort the pathway towards the exit, while showcasing designs from multiple angles. Symmetry also plays a key role. The compelling central chamber represents a human-scale chess set, where rows of softly lit ‘Lens Flair’ pendant lights hover above chequered pavers, like a Newton’s Cradle awaiting activation.

Due to the timing and the scale of the Sydney installation (which will not be replicated elsewhere), Broom will refrain from presenting at Salone del Mobile in Milan this year, although a soon-to-be-released short film will capture the essence of the exhibition, aiding international reach.

‘Some areas are very dramatic, some more playful and others quite surreal’

In line with the brand’s continuing expansion, Broom began a tour of Australasia earlier this month, presenting a series of design talks within Space Furniture’s showrooms in Singapore, Brisbane, and Melbourne, coinciding with Singapore and Melbourne Design Weeks. ‘Lee understands that the Australian design community really does operate at a global level – the tour has sold out in each location,’ comments Michelle McEwen, the group marketing manager of Space Furniture Sydney. §