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Q&ADR: Ilan El, founder of ILANEL lighting studio

Q&ADR: Ilan El, founder of ILANEL lighting studio


Every week in our Q&ADR column, ADR interviews an architect, designer, object maker or industry person about who they are beyond the work – their life, inspiration, challenges and aspirations.

This week we meet Ilan El, founder of lighting studio ILANEL. He discusses his 13m tall Deco chandelier, working with Save The Children, and his upcoming project in Melbourne’s Malt District.

Who/what/where inspires you?
Important influences on my work are natural sciences (physics, chemistry, geology, biology). Although the road from the designer’s mind to the real world is rarely clear, for me, it is all about combining naturally inspired design with human inventiveness and creativity.

Every creative puts a part of themselves into their work. Which of your projects has been the most important to you and why?
The Deco chandelier is a standout project – it’s located in the Royal Bank Chambers building (Collins St, Melbourne) which was built in 1941. The Deco chandelier is a tribute to the era’s eclectic influences. It’s a 13-metre tall Art Deco-style chandelier, which uses contemporary materials mixed with Egyptian and Japanese influences. To maximise illumination, the chandelier uses a clear film imprinted with bespoke symmetrical patterns that reflect the Art Deco design characteristics. All components were custom-made over a six-month production process, followed by a 13-hour installation. The result is a spectacular modern addition to the building that complements the style and heritage of the original architecture.

The huge scale, the artistic merit and the creative challenge presented by this project are what makes this creation one of my most important projects to date.

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The Deco chandelier by ILANEL. Photo courtesy ILANEL.

What is your favourite place or space in Australia and why?
As much as I admire the architectural wonders the city has to offer, I’m always in awe when I travel out of the urban sprawl into the countryside. In particular, the Great Dividing Range, the Blue Mountains and the Great Barrier Reef are some of my favourite places where I can really relax, recharge and be inspired all at the same time.

The Great Dividing Range as seen from Mt Hotham. Photo by fir0002 | flagstaffotos.com.au via Wikimedia Commons.

The Great Dividing Range as seen from Mt Hotham. Photo by fir0002 | flagstaffotos.com.au via Wikimedia Commons.

What has been the most defining moment of your life and why?
Twelve years ago I embarked on a life-changing journey and moved across the world to Australia where the air is fresh, the people are easy going and the coffee is superb.

I was lured to Melbourne for its cultural vibe and joined the Master’s program at RMIT University where I specialised in experiential illumination. I explored the spatial relationships light creates with environments and their occupants and ways to harness illumination for a better wellbeing.

What would you say has been your proudest moment, either career-wise or otherwise?
On 25 October 2016, ‘Save The Children’ held its fourth annual Illumination Gala at The Plaza Hotel’s majestic ballroom in New York City. ILANEL had the honour of creating a spectacular lighting installation for the main stage, capturing a sense of old Hollywood glamour with sparkling rain lights. (More info can be found here)

The Silo light by ILANEL. Photo courtesy ILANEL.

The Silo light by ILANEL. Photo courtesy ILANEL.

What are you working on currently and what are your goals for the future, either personally or professionally?
We were thrilled to be engaged by Caydon to create a bespoke light for the Coppins Corner apartments which will be part of The Malt District development in Melbourne’s Cremorne (home to the iconic Nylex clock and silos). The result is ‘The Silo light’, which is inspired by the existing fabric of the site, including the cylindrical shape and the gable roof on top of the silos, as well as the new architectural form designed by Fender Katsalidis Architects.

We’re in the midst of design and fabrication of various bespoke pieces for a new restaurant in Church Street, Richmond (Melbourne) and we’ve also been commissioned to design and fabricate large-scale light installations for few private residences in Melbourne, Singapore and Miami which is always exciting. We’re also expanding our collection to include more pieces using mouth blown glass by a couple of local artists, and we’re focusing on our relationships with local architects and interior designers to see how we might be able to collaborate to create bespoke pieces for upcoming projects.


We’d love to hear your inspirations and experience in the architecture and design community. Simply email adrteam@niche.com.au with a little introduction of yourself to be featured.

Read last week’s Q&ADR with Peter Ahern and Kurt Crisp of buck&simple.


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