Pasta and lamp
Jun 16, 2022
Marisa LaFalce
In College of Human Ecology, Human Centered Design

Could a light fixture enhance a perfectly prepared pasta meal, while pushing the boundaries of sustainable design? The world-renowned judges in the 2022 Parmigiano Reggiano Design Challenge say “sì”!

Jack Elliott, associate professor in the Department of Human Centered Design, recently won best of show for his Matassa lamp, a sculptural fixture that offers softly diffused lighting by which to enjoy that perfect plate of pasta. Matassa is Italian for skein or hank, and the lamp’s name was inspired by tagliolini, a flat pasta cut into thin strips that is often sold in tangled balls.

For this year’s competition, designers were asked to submit a product design that celebrates the “rituals associated with cooking and enjoying food” and embodies one of three concepts important to the Parmigiano Reggiano company: commitment to biodiversity, strict aging or zero waste. Over 500 designers from around the world participated, submitting products ranging from tables and chairs to cheese graters and cutting boards in the categories “In the Kitchen” and “At the Table.”

Elliott’s design, which also won the gold award at the professional level, brings sustainability to the forefront - a common theme in his work. He has used both furniture and sculpture as mediums for natural expression with exhibits and pieces through the Northeast including the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the Sculpture Center in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Johnson Museum and elsewhere on the Cornell University campus.

What set the pendant lamp apart from other winning entries is that it is an actual protype and not a computer-generated model. This comes from Elliott’s deep personal knowledge of real-world making. By optimizing equipment settings, Elliott used the shavings from the machining of the aluminum ceiling rose to fabricate the diffuser, resulting in zero waste. Focusing on sustainability, the aluminum came from 100% post-consumer content, and the lamp uses a full-spectrum LED bulb. Once the lamp reaches its end of life, the parts of the lamp that cannot be reused can be recycled.

As best of show winner, Elliott receives a trip for two to Italy that includes tours of design museums of competition co-sponsors Kartell and Alessi, a visit to a Parmigiano Reggiano artisanal dairy, as well as chef-prepared meals featuring that famous cheese.

Above photo: Elliott’s winning pendant light “Matassa” and a tangle of fresh rolled tagliolini. See all award finalists.