Mette Schelde: “Meticulous investigations into the components of light”

August 23rd, 2021
Written by:
Nikolai Kotlarczyk

Mette Schelde in her studio in Aarhus. Photo: Benjamin Lund

Viewing design as a holistic approach to space and living, architect and designer Mette Schelde’s growing catalogue of work across a variety of scales is a testament to her layering of design. Object connecting to space, space brought to life by light. She creates work that delves into a deeper understanding of our own sensory systems.

Based on the ground floor of her family home in Aarhus, Schelde’s workshop and studio presents as a space for reflection as much as investigation. Following her studies in architecture, a slew of furniture and lighting projects for companies such as Fritz Hansen and Please Wait to be Seated has seen her studio working across scales. Rather than viewing these smaller scaled projects as an escape from her architectural training, furniture and lighting make up the base of a larger architectural picture;

“For me, pieces of furniture and lighting are small fragments of architecture. You could say that the architecture is the frame and that furniture and lighting make up the landscape within. The interaction between furniture, light, spatial context and the human is where the quality can be sensed.”

Mette Schelde’s workshop and studio. Photo courtesy of Mette Schelde.
Ombre Light by Mette Schelde for The Mindcraft Project 2021. Photo: Benjamin Lund

Light is the one overarching factor that connects Schelde’s range of projects. Viewing light as a fundamental aspect of architectural planning, her approach to this subject extends beyond the purely functional and into the sub-conscious. Through her diverse collection of limited edition and commercially produced lighting products, you can see where she has borrowed from her architectural training. The way space is enhanced by light reflecting off surfaces, the use of strategic openings to shape light. Scaled down, these same methodologies are translated through her investigations and research, as she explains;

“Through my lighting projects I aim to fulfill functions – both the concrete and the sensory, that can be experienced through the quality of the light, the materials and the idiom. The process is meticulous investigations into the components of light; reflection, shadow, color, space – and the use of optics, mirrors or glass to shape it. I achieve visual means and light that interact with its user and have a clear function.”

Planet Lamp designed by Mette Schelde for Please Wait to be Seated. Photo courtesy of Mette Schelde.
Blooper Table Lamp designed by Mette Schelde for Please Wait to be Seated. Photo courtesy of Mette Schelde.

These investigations into the components of light can be seen within her work for Please Wait to be Seated. While her Planet Lamp acts as a personal lighting landscape where the user can alter the pieces composition, her Blooper lamp is a beautiful execution in indirect lighting where a central disc is spun to alter the lights intensity. This same concept has been enlarged and altered with Ombre Light as part of The Mindcraft Project 2021. While earlier examples display Schelde’s research into the absorption and reflection of light, Ombre investigates colour theory, along with intensity – as a means of both functional light and a form of light therapy. As an ongoing ground for research, Ombre perfectly hits at Schelde’s approach to the holistic qualities that tie together light, form and space;

“Within my work with light, the context; the architectural surrounding is as essential a part of the design process as the lighting itself. How the emitted light affects the feeling and function of the room, and how our human body perceives this light. Materials and forms are key to understanding light in architecture because they directly affect the quality of the light, and in turn our mood, productivity and physical condition.”

Reflect Wall Lamp designed by Mette Schelde. Photo courtesy of Mette Schelde.

As her catalogue of work presents as an ongoing body of research into both light theory and practice, Schelde is looking towards larger projects in 2021 to test out her investigations in a truly immersive way. A soon to be realized residential housing project, along with interior lighting designs, will display a unification of her studies and explorations and present her own unique vision of a merging between architecture, people, objects and most importantly – light.