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Nao Iwamatsu’s Trio Glow in Appreciation of an Industrial Yesterday

If we were tasked to pair a soundtrack to accompany Japanese industrial designer Nao Iwamatsu’s trio of lighting on display at SaloneSatellite during Milan Design Week 2023, we’d be inclined to choose this song sharing a similar name and theme in celebration of modernity and the emotional ties of nostalgia.

Based in Tokyo, Iwamatsu is inspired by the aesthetics of human-made objects, a fascination the designer attributes to his time working for a global information equipment manufacturer where industrial grade equipment, multifunctional machines, medical equipment, and other manufacturing machinery. The oft overlooked details of industrial beauty are apparent across all three of the loosely themed collection.

The first of the three is LOTUS, a lighting solution linking the history of light from its most primitive and primal of sources, to its most modern LED-illuminated incarnation. The design is offered with a choice of two different bases and two different light sources, the options inviting a flexible arrangement where genuine flames and flickering LEDs are available in one form. Iwamatsu likens the resulting illumination to that of a beautiful landscape – “like a lotus in a pond.”

FLIGHT draws inspiration from the red blinking aviation lights stationed across Tokyo, evoking feelings of “flight, heights, and exoticism, taking you on an imaginary journey.” The soft glow of red painting nearby surfaces, the monolithic, geometric shapes exude an almost ominous presence, reflecting an element of implied danger and inhabiting the space between mood lighting and a purely decorative object.

RIM, the last of the three lights, is available as floor, pendant, and table lamps and constructed using an ultra-fine, high-density stainless steel mesh originally developed for industrial use as a lampshade. The properties of the finely perforated shade transform light to glow with the warm presence of a flame, an intentional result inspired by traditional Japanese paper enclosed lanterns known as andon. Instead of rice paper, Iwamatsu’s choice in stainless steel mesh imparts a more industrial and contemporary interpretation of lantern lighting.

“[The lights] were conceived with inspiration from artificial objects,” says Iwamatsu. “By focusing on the technologies that have contributed to the development of mankind, these lights [are] to become a new nostalgia for the future.”

Iwamatsu’s trio of lighting designs were on display at SaloneSatellite during Milan Design Week 2023, with the designer inviting all interested in his efforts to his website.



  • Tokyo, Japan
  • Nao Iwamatsu