Whether it’s the appeal of what’s left or what’s missing, laser cut pieces blend art and technology in a trend that has permeated fashion, home and industrial design.
What began with the conservative use of perforated metal has developed to encompass myriad applications, with designs cut into almost any material, including timber as well as metals.
According to Glen O’Shanesy, of laser cut specialists Langford Metal, the technique is basically what a lot of kids did at school, cutting paper with a magnifying glass, but advanced technology means lasers enhanced with fibre optics can cut thicker aluminum, and do it more quickly.
“More people are realising they’re only restricted by their imagination,” says O’Shanesy who is responsible for the laser cut awnings and exterior screens at the boutique Emporium Hotel, one of the first to adopt the trend.
On a smaller scale Debbie Wyatt, of Urban Metal, has seen her business grow on the back of the increasing popularity of laser cut designs. “I even noticed it on shoes the other day, showing it really is everywhere,” she says.
From her Wynnum studio, Wyatt creates artistic metal room dividers, sculptural and decorative pieces in laser cut aluminium and steel. “We started just doing perforated metal but were getting a lot of requests from builders and architects about laser cut designs,” she says. “Now we meet with clients and can come up with a design, hand sketch it out, modify it on the computer, laser cut and deliver it.”
Laser cut design is now a significant part of her business and the requests are getting more creative all the time. “One client, who has a house on Hawthorne Road, has a laser cut panel around her house with a design based on story books from her childhood. We’ve also done one whole front of a building which was laser cut in a design and then had plants growing up it.
“Interior decorators love it for kids’ rooms – you can really play with pattern and colour. You can have a tree up against a wall or a nice quote – we once took a client’s photograph of her two boys on the beach, made it into a silhouette and cut it into a panel with a nice quote about brothers above it. It was such a simple but effective idea.
“People are becoming a little bit more adventurous with their ideas, they get really excited if they’ve been involved in the initial design.”
At $300 to $400 for a fence panel size or up to $15,000 for a wall such as the one featured on Hawthorne Road, Wyatt says customers are willing to invest in what can easily stay looking fresh for 10 years in an outdoor setting.
Robert Sheppard of Coorparoo’s Light and Design Group says laser cutting is also a growing trend in lighting. The showroom’s range of ISM laser cut pendant lights exemplify the look, with large laser cut shades that make a dramatic statement.
“When used in luminaires it can be used to create mood lighting by the use of light and shadow,” says Sheppard. Dramatic patterns on ceilings and walls can temporarily enhance a room with the flick of a switch.
“This style of fixture is becoming more popular as more designers are introducing more decorative elements into their design rather than the clean minimal looks which have been the trend.”