Moritz Waldemeyer is a humble man. So much so that we almost needed to remind him of just how influential his work has been around the world. We waited quite some time – in vain – for him to drop some names, which is why I’m doing it on his behalf: Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Swarovski, Bombay Sapphire, U2, Kylie Minogue and Rihanna. All these are just a few of his clients. He creates bespoke visual installations and costumes using a common element: light.
I worked for Philips in the year 2000. Whilst working there, someone gave me a kit and asked me to combine LEDs with a chip.
Moritz’s technical background gave him a slight advantage after he got started. Anyone looking to work with flexible lighting – art directors, musicians, architects, designers – began to go to him. Tiny battery-powered LEDs were suddenly put on clothing or the stages of rock concerts, made into giant installations for architecture or advertising or were put on display themselves as artwork.
Born in 1974 in Halle, Germany, Moritz left for London to study engineering at the renowned King’s College. Upon graduating, he went to work for Philips in the Netherlands for about three years before heading back to London. It was here that he found his passion for experimenting with light.
Suddenly, I was considered a pioneer.
Clients come to me with an idea – and sometimes that turns into something.
And that something really is something. Moritz’s work is as monumental as it is versatile and uncompromisingly innovative. Some of his ideas – like the digital imitation of a burning candle – are almost pedestrian. Others are simply grandiose, like the hundreds of illuminated costumes designed for the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
The creative side of his work comes up a bit short. Moritz estimates only about five percent of his work contributes to this. The rest is all technical. He says his laptop is paramount for creating connections between the lights, mostly comprised of lightweight LEDs, using complex algorithms to create images and shapes that fit into his creative vision.
I ask him if he’s afraid of imitations or of the trend dying out – that technology will make digitally powered lighting obsolete. Moritz’s answer is simple.
I don’t ever look back. Old projects aren’t that interesting to me because I’m always looking to do something new.
A small group of young employees help him realise his vision in the ground floor of a small townhouse in the East End. He lives upstairs with his partner. Downstairs, it’s filled with electric tools and high-tech equipment. A 3-D printer hums in the background, working on a new project. He’s using a life-sized styrofoam head to test a web of razor-thin cables connected to dozens of LEDs. Moritz can’t tell us about it – top secret.
One of his employees is celebrating his birthday today, so Moritz invites everyone to a late lunch in his favourite neighbourhood pub. “It’s a ten-minute walk,” he says. Of course it’s further away – but no big deal. Whilst en route, Moritz talks a bit about himself.
He just moved here recently. Ever since the Olympics, the East End has become the new epicentre of London. There’s still space and the rent is reasonable. The first batch of creatives has already arrived – like Moritz and his family.
Hurry up – kitchen closes at four.
The pub is huge – and practically empty. Ten minutes later, our food is on the table. Chicken, salad – and of course fish and chips. I decide to play in safe and choose the latter. After a few bites, I’m amazed. Moritz is right. “The old West is now the new East.” The fried cod and hand-cut chips i’m eating is the best I’ve ever had. It would seem that Moritz knows his stuff. We’re only left to wonder where his knowledge will take him.