Designer Q&A: Mike Holland, Foster + Partners

Foster + Partners is an international studio for architecture, engineering and design and we were lucky enough to be able to talk to their Head of Industrial Design, Mike Holland.

Mike has recently collaborated with lighting manufacturer Artemide, and created the sophisticated ‘Orsa’ pendant light.mike holland foster &So Mike, Can you tell us how you got into design? 

As a child, I was always interested in making things – always taking apart and putting together everyday objects. This innate fascination for objects and the way they work led me to do a degree in furniture and product design.

What is it you love about design?

The opportunity it gives to work with a variety of different disciplines – craftspeople, manufacturers, engineers and more. For me design embodies a collaborative spirit from which something functional and beautiful can emerge.mike holland orsa web

“For me design embodies a collaborative spirit from which something functional and beautiful can emerge.”

How did your collaboration with Artemide come about?

Our relationship began with the project for the National Bank of Kuwait, where we designed a bespoke installation of 300 floating lights above a central meeting table. The lamp became an early prototype for Orsa, which we then developed into a product for the market.

What was the inspiration behind ‘Orsa’?

Quite simply – the ambition was to create a cloud of floating discs of light.

Orsa is an embodiment of precision – an elegant pendant light pared down to its essential elements, allowing the light to express a larger volume. A slim metal stem flares out at one end to form the heat-sink and housing for the LED, with a UV bonded moulded glass cover containing the light source. The precision glass takes its shape from the focused output of the LED which is diffused through a specially engineered etched lens, focussing the light over a wider area. The design of the glass cover ensures that the light source remains invisible, giving it an appearance of a floating disk of light.mike holland webAnd finally if you were to sum up ‘design’ in one word what would it be? And why?

Inquisitiveness – I believe a heightened sense of curiosity underpins every good designer.

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About Alys Bryan

Alys' experience as a furniture designer, along with her in-depth marketing knowledge, makes her uniquely placed to work with the BCFA as the Editor of Design Insider and run her marketing business, Method Communications.
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