The corridor of luxury couture, fine art, and furnishings known as the Miami Design District had a Walt Disney Beauty And The Beast moment this past holiday season, when London-based designer Philippe Malouin completed his temporary commission Speed of Light for the neighborhood’s development company Dacra. The installation was on view for a six-week period coinciding with Christmas and New Year’s.
Consider Speed of Light an urban-scale version of the animated film’s anthropomorphic candelabra, Lumiere: Located in the Design District’s pedestrian artery, Paseo Ponti, the piece included two tubular-steel assemblies, each comprising a roller coaster–like track connected by a pair of poles. A hardwired LED-illuminated globe loops around each track, ascending to its peaks via the remote-controlled motorized buggy to which it is attached and zooming around the descents by gravity.
The London-based studio JLK-DS fabricated the LED fixtures and consulted on lighting design. Besides trailing the globes on foot, visitors watched the lighted sphere’s journey from the concrete seating in which the steel poles were mounted. “It’s important that light is used during the holidays, but to me it was important to not get stuck in holiday-based iconography,” Malouin says. Instead, he reinvented the streetlamp to convey: “Be our guest.”