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 Frank Gehry Architect
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Low White Fish Lamp, 1984. Collection of Fred and Winter Hoffman and Frank and Berta Gehry.

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The 1983 introduction of Colorcore, a laminate product from the Formica Company, was launched with an invitation to designers to illustrate the product's distinctive properties. Gehry elected to create a lamp that would emphasize the translucency of the laminate's integral coloration. The serendipitous discovery of splintered patterns came after several failed attempts at a design in which one lamp was accidentally broken. Gehry translated the scalelike pattern of the jagged pieces into fish and snake forms. Nearly three dozen lamps were eventually produced by New City Editions.

The fish form first appeared in Gehry's unrealized design for the Smith Residence in 1981, and it continues to be a recurring motif in his work. Initially a gently mocking response to the postmodern penchant for adapting classical forms, its continued presence is a symbolic allusion to childhood memories and a testament to the functional appeal of the form's structural flexibility.