Tom Strala

Tom Strala’s growing reputation has led him to participate and chair in international judging panels in the fields of art, design and architecture. He has realized project of railway station, Hollywood films set and projects for star architects such as Zaha Hadid, Sir Norman Foster, Mario Botta, David Chipperfield and Herzog de Meuron. Strala’s works are dedicated to the ones who are capable to recognize the beauty of ideas which are mostly based on some deeper perception. His latest project is called Animal Farm No. 2. This lamp was shown at BRAND NEW WORLD MILANO 2015 @ DUSAN for the very first time.

Tom Strala has been running his own gallery since 2002 in Zürich’s well-known Seefeld and is known as a design pioneer challenging the established values and generating new ones. His works are pieces of art you can settle in front. In 2006 his series of TMS-lights was awarded with „Europe‘s Luminaire of the Year”. In the past several years he had several exhibitions at renowned museums and galleries and expanded by lectureships and leading workshops at the ETH Zurich, as well as at the California College of the Arts (CCA San Francisco).


I try to visualize intrinsic ideas within materials, bringing them into contact with the intellectual life of humans. Before I start creating a new object it starts with a need I want to follow and a vague idea how I can follow this need. For example, it’s like you have the need to clap, but you don’t know how this works. You try and a few times nothing really happens. Suddenly, a finger touches your hand. Maybe it’s only the wind between your two hands which feeds your idea, but sooner or later your hands come together and you hear a sound. Finally, you tune this sound, said Tom Strala.

If I just think back about 20 years, I am sure to find designers and producers that pursued their own clear idea and ideology. With their design they wanted shape the world and share their joy about their discoveries with people. Today many designers and producers demand from their works an abundance of complex criteria. Global, commercial, political problems, as well as formal, mental visions, and market psychological and economic parameters play Major roles in this behaviour. This idea is nice and ok, but completely irrelevant. People have to start dreaming again. Art does not need any complex problem solving. We need passion. We need desire. No well-tempered Everything and Nothing. No new update of our operation system. We need intensity and this cannot be found in a compromise. It is a radical consequence that today I am a designer, maker, entrepreneur and promoter, declared Strala.

Tom Strala completed his architecture studies at the ETH in 2001 with the „Erich Degen Reise-stipendium“ award, but is now predominantly a product designer. And Bartok is his favourite project.

It’s given that I’m an architect and in my first architectural projects I was quickly confronted with the fact that in this business there is no room for mistakes and retry. At the same time I had this wonderful idea in mind of a folding metal lamp. I didn’t know how it would work, but I had a strong feeling that I can make it. Four years later the first lamp was born. I realized that designing corresponds better to my sensibilities. Today I love my freedom to create and to make mistakes, because it refreshes my creative ideas, pointed Strala.

 Bartok, my concrete table, is about a moment we always want to hide. The iron inside a building is always hidden and nobody values it, even though you need both the concrete and the iron for a building to hold together. My table shows off this iron, changing our perspective on the material and what is beautiful.


By experimenting with materials we explore and experience limits. In an analytic game with metal we conceive the breaking points of bending, breaking, or liquefaction. Exactly these breaking points are interesting to me. The barrier of changing condition, because this is where we designers can „make“ something out of this material and develop something new. To me a wonderful discovery is that this principle is based on a deeper (human) analogy or parallelism, yet even a tradition. At the time we are stuck, we have to change in order to move on. Even though material is a dead matter, it behaves based on the same principle. „Animal Farm No. 2“ arises from exactly this body of thought. In a process of 3 years this wall of light found its shape. During that time the technical and aesthetic possibilities of brass were exhausted and enhanced on many prototypes. Slits and bores were branded by most modern laser technology into raw tubes, dimensions were changed, transformed, and the consigned marks and shapes analysed. The aim was a grand metamorphose by minimal destruction”, concluded Strala.

Watch more about Tom's design philosophy here:

Tom Strala (CH) @BDW 2014 from Brand New World on Vimeo.

The Swiss design superstar, Tom Strala, presented his latest work in Milan from April 14th – 19th, as one of the eight key international figures who epitomise the new concept of Designers – Makers – Entrepreneurs, rethinking the entire business and creative model in design. Tom’s exhibition is part of BRAND NEW WORLD MILANO 2015 @ DUSAN, curated and produced by Vesna and Jovan Jelovac. As a part of the Milan 2015 FouriSaloni program, Brand New World shows the DESIGN 2.0 philosophy, unthinkable of only a few years ago. Concept will be staged in arguably one of the most elegant design showrooms in the city – DUSAN, Via Antonio Zarotto 1, powered by LAUFEN.


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