Larry Laske by Larry Laske

Lawrence Laske

When we first sat down Ingo Maurer asked, “What would you like from me?” I replied, “I don’t know, perhaps just to thank you for your inspiration, the balance of poetry and technology.” Ingo could tell that I was a bit nervous so he asked if I had some work to show him. I gave him my portfolio which I was shopping around the Salone, and Ingo genuinely took time to look through it. He was particularly taken with a few of my lighting ideas, especially a sketch from May 19th 1997. He asked if I had ever translated it, made it real from its embryonic state. I mentioned that I presented it to various manufacture's in the past but no one was interested. He said to me, “You just have not found the right person.” Ingo then went on to say, “I can take this sketch right now, and bring it to life and I'll give you 5 % royalties, but I want to see you build a model of it because I want to see your sensitivities.”  I said I would return to the states and start immediately.

The initial sketch presented to Ingo Maurer.

During the period of April 19th – August 27th I produced several drawings and presented the 1st prototype to Ingo. I literally carved it out of various materials in my basement and backyard in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It made its point, enough that Ingo said, “OK, it needs refinement but I understand it.” So I returned to prepare another prototype.             

On October 6th, 2000 I met with Ingo at his showroom in NYC and presented the second prototype. Ingo only commented, “It’s almost there, but I am not convinced.” We sketched together and I returned to my basement with new inspiration. Basically, Ingo thought it was too static and he wanted me to add some life to it. Ingo’s instincts were correct.

In November I met with Ingo at his showroom in NYC. I could hardly hold in my excitement. Since our last meeting I spent the entire time in my basement: using my drill press as a lathe to turn the shades, bending, soldering the metal. I unpacked and assembled the two prototypes. When Ingo came down to view them, he looked at them and said, “You’ve been busy.” Ingo continued, “It is beautifully naive. A naive but sensual lamp. I love it.” This is when I took the picture of Ingo viewing the prototypes. Ingo then said, “Congratulations, you’ve convinced me.”

Ingo Maurer viewing Lake's prototypes at Maurer's New York showroom.

For the next several months I tested various methods for manufacturing the ballast. I tooled a mold, which had inserts which suspended the steel balls in the mold cavity, injecting polyurethane around them. As each sample run was finished, I sent the examples to Ingo in Munich.

Ballast tooling and injection mold.

On January 24th, 2001 I received a letter from Ingo and I immediately called him. We spoke with great affection towards each other. Ultimately, Ingo had to pass on the project as he was unable to fit Testi into his production schedule.

The wonderful moments I spent with Ingo carry enough weight to suppress my disappointment.  I will always have a great respect and admiration for Ingo. I will never forget when Ingo initially agreed to produce the lamp he told me it was more like a self-portrait, stating “I know what I am going to call your lamp, Larry Laske by Larry Laske.”