Frank Buchwald’s machine lights exist in a realm beyond design trends or popular fashion. They have an unmistakeable identity, uncompromising, with an impeccable quality of artistic creation. Their authoritative perfection places them amongst the classics of sculptural design.
To classify Buchwald’s machine lights as ‘conventional lighting design’ would be to do them a great injustice. Although the lights remind one of the industrial machine design of the 20th century, contrary to ‘normal’ lights, where function determines design, Buchwald’s works neither limit nor subordinate themselves to the mere task of producing light. Instead, they reinterpret the task in a fundamentally unique and exemplary way. Transcending the boundaries of classic design, and escaping the constraints of the ‘merely functional’, his works explore new and as yet unseen aspects of the essence of both light and machine.
Buchwald’s aesthetic is not bound by the aim of realizing the beautiful or the pleasant. His lights bear the marks of the sublime. Qualities of violence or brute force are not suppressed, but rather laid bare as essential characteristics of the machine lights. This is reflected in the classic materials Buchwald uses: burnished steel and brass, fiber and metal wiring, glass and – particularly in recent designs – stainless steel. Rather than hide the tension created by the diverse components of the lights, Buchwald integrates them in ways that preserve their existing contrasts.
The craftsmanship and quality of his materials and production are outstanding. Even more impressive is the persistence, thoroughness, and painstaking accuracy with which Buchwald builds his machine lights. His relentless pursuit of creative perfection has spanned over fifteen years, a quest that is distinctly evident in the completion of each new work. Completed lights serve as blueprints for subsequent designs, constantly being tested, reconceptualised, and optimised. Buchwald’s machine lights are subject to an ongoing evolution whose progress can only be anticipated with great excitement.
Gerhard Schwarz, 2018