Understanding Design by Mai

Mai Waelkens

There are one or two artists and designers who have not only a unique creative vision, but also the courage, skills and determination to set up and run their own company. It is these heroes (actually, more often, heroines) to whose work I particularly want to draw your attention. They have richly earned our support.

So the heroine in this post is the Belgian Mai Waelkens, whose company is called Design by Mai. She is responsible for the amazing Skybeamer:

Design by Mai 88 and 200 Skybeamer pendant lights

part flying saucer:

Design by Mai Skybeamer pendant lights

part eye:

Design by Mai Skybeamer black outside, gold inside

There are two sizes, Ø88cm and Ø200cm. They cast light in a beam sideways. For the 88, you can decide how much by adjusting the gap between the two sections. The elegant, simple, sensuous design is complemented by the fact that the 88 hangs from a single cable, and the 200 from three (taut) cables.

The amazing Ø200cm really comes into its own in atria and other large spaces, in groups:

Design by Mai Skybeamer 200s at the Marriott Ghent
Design by Mai Skybeamer 200 pendant lights at the Marriott Ghent.

Or singly, as shown in this wonderfully composed photograph:

Design by Mai Skybeamer pendant light

Crucially (for most foyer-type locations anyway), they look as good from above:

Design by Mai Skybeamer 200 pendant lights seen from above

Every now and then there will be a residential space that can take something this size. An option then is Big Hat (the top half of a Skybeamer):

big Hat pendant light D200cm from Design by Mai

Nothing else would go so well there, pulling the space together and, let’s be honest, creating a stunning wow factor effect. Now you can see why I want you to be aware of Mai’s work!

Standard colours are white, black and red. As standard, they are white on the inside, but they can all also have a gold interior (the hint of gold…the warmer light….). Any RAL colour is available for an upcharge. The cable can also be customized – fabrics and colours. The LEDs come as standard at 2700k but that can be changed – even colours can be used. And there is now a translucent version of Big Hat!

Big Hat pendant light D200cm Design by Mai

Here’s a picture of a Belgian man making a Skybeamer. Click on it to see a very good little video about this light.

At the top of this email, Mai is sitting by her piece called Grid, a pendant light that is usually rectangular…

Grid rectangular pendant light from Design by Mai

…but can also be square (here in a copper finish):

GAluminium foam pendant light Grid from Design by Mai

Grid is made from recycled aluminium foam: oxygen is injected under high pressure into liquid aluminium. So, on the one hand, it has a strong, blocky shape, but it is greatly softened by the lightness of the material, and its textured surface that emits patterns of light:

Patterns cats by Grid pendant light from Design by Mai

You can see the standard aluminium finish next to her in the picture. Grid can also be lacquered in a range of metal finishes and any RAL colour – which can be hi-gloss, satin or matt:

examples of finish of aluminium foam Grid pendant lights form Design by Mai

Standard lead times are six to eight weeks.

Do get in touch if you’d like to know more – e.g. prices (which are very competitive). Also, we can send you a brochure full of high quality images: useful for you, but even more so when you are introducing the idea of Skybeamers or a Grid to your client. www.designbymai.com

Actually, I think you should treat yourself to a couple of days in Ghent – cheap and quick to get to via Eurostar to Brussels.  Make an appointment to visit Mai in her studio, and go to the foyer of the Marriott Ghent, which is where the Skybeamer 200s were photographed. You could also see (IMHO) the world’s greatest painting, Van Eyck’s Adoration of the Mystic Lamb in St Bavo’s, and join the ladies as they queue up for their fresh Leonidas or Godiva chocolates each morning….  

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