Cuteness Found Its Physical Incarnation in This Lamp

Monling Lee and Justin Donnelly designed their Neotenic lamp with certain bodily traits in mind.

In designing their Neotenic furniture series, architects Monling Lee and Justin Donnelly turned to science: Specifically, to Nobel Prize–winning ethologist Konrad Lorenz, who, in 1943, proposed that certain physical traits (including a rounded face, big eyes, thick extremities, and a small, pudgy body) elicit a positive response in a viewer—in other words, that cute things make humans happy. The designers, who cofounded New York–based design firm Jumbo earlier this year, applied the notion to their debut collection, released during NYCxDesign last month and on view through July in the A/D/O Shop in Brooklyn. Made of cast-steel hydronic piping, the chair and lighting fixtures are finished in sleek burgundy auto body paint by the same guy who worked with the late American designer Wendell Castle on his fiberglass-reinforced plastic objects. Unlike Castle’s creations, which are more organic, these are straight-up squiggles, enhanced with an adorably chubby thickness you feel compelled to cuddle. My favorite is the floor lamp, which evokes a squirmy puppy, or a giant worm, with an opaque bare bulb for a head. It’s unlike any other piece of furniture in my apartment, but I’d make an exception because it’s so darn sweet.

(Photos: Courtesy Jumbo)

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