A chain of koi fish float through an exhibit space, illuminating their immediate surroundings with a self-contained, warm orange glow. The works come from a familiar yet unexpected name: Frank Gehry. Early in his artistic career, Gehry created several visual installations and furniture designs, many in the late-20th century, that would influence his later accomplishments in architecture. Fish Lamps draws upon the flowing and undulating movement of the water species, an aesthetic that often made an appearance in Gehry’s singular building designs.
Gehry, who concentrated on making exquisite furniture before creating such structures as the Guggenheim Museum Bilboa and the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, began his artistic arc creating home-approrpriate works that could fit the mold of gallery installations.
There is the sleek and accessible Superlight Chair and the melting curves of the Wiggle Side Chair; both are still considered tentpole examples of contemporary furniture design. Gehry’s first conceived the initial iteration of the Fish Lamps in 1983. Now, the artist’s latest takes on the series have evolved in grandeur. Gehry chose to revisit the Lamps in 2012, incorporating more dramatic slicings of Formica plastic. The effect is a freeing one, full of fantasy and a natural serenity.
Take in some of Frank Gehry’s glowing Fish Lamps below: