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Dubai

Local Spotlight: Darren Lyon

June 10, 2011

Eco design with the Dubai-based artist behind 1010 Creative

  • Text by Kate Hazell

The award-winning designer Darren Lyon has made a name for himself in Dubai with his interior architecture, furniture design and landscape design. The South African talks to Satellite Voices about his new exciting eco project.

Satellite Voices: What makes you smile?
Darren Lyon: The unexpected, mostly; huge floating butterflies; peaceful interaction with Nature.

SV: What was the first thing you ever made?
Darren Lyon: When I was about six, I remember carving an old piece of oil-stained wood in front of my dad’s car workshop, using a blunt, bent, rusty screw driver I’d found on the concrete floor. But really the first tangible thing was an usual one-legged side table, handmade from Japanese elm and ash. An ex-girlfriend smashed it in a fit of rage!

SV: What’s your dream project?
Darren Lyon: The one I am working on now - an ‘off-the-grid’, self-sustaining eco estate, in the middle of the mountains and wilderness of South Africa. I’m designing and (mostly) self-building a 23 hectare plot in the Garden Route, which has been a pine plantation for 20 years, where we now run completely from solar, gas and wind power. At this stage we are carefully regenerating the land with indigenous planting around a newly constructed, ambitious, man-made lake system.

It should operate in a cyclic motion around the main house, storing irrigation water, generating small power for landscaping lights, protecting us from the wild and massive bush fires in the area, and attracting wildlife. One of the big dams burst at the weekend in heavy rains, and now stands empty, as we try to fix the Jeep-sized hole! My work in interior architecture in Dubai, landscaping design in London, and good old fashioned dirty work with my bare hands over the last 14 years, is now proving fruitful for my own project.

SV: What do you wish you had written / created?
Darren Lyon: The geodesic dome by Buckminster Fuller!

SV: Who’s work / art / music would you recommend on checking out?
Darren Lyon: Check out the artwork of the ancients; pre-history is where it’s at. Read Bill Mollisons’ "Guide to Permaculture book"; try listening to Ali Farka Toures’ "Radio Mali" album.

SV: How do you describe your work?
Darren Lyon: Bipolar! My work goes from a scored depth of burnt primitivism spirituality to glossy and chic Arabic calligraphic furniture. I think it is infused with tangible charge, emotion and energy. I’ve started doing pen and ink drawing which is really feeding my work with an explosion of oil, dirt, air and blood in the form of black and red ink ‘happenings’. Everyone should try it!

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