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Photos by Yasuko Furukawa

Is it a lantern? Is it a photo of a lantern? Is it wall art? Well, it’s all of the above. And it’s the latest design from the mind-bending design duo YOY, who enjoy incorporating clever illusions into their work. This year at Milan Design Week Naoki Ono and Yuki Yamamoto, the pair behind YOY, are debuting “Depth,” a playful light that plays with our sense of depth.


“The structure is simple,” explains YOY. “Behind the photo are a transparent sheet that masks the light, a light-guiding panel, and a LED.”

The seemingly 2-dimensional framed artwork hangs, or is propped up, on a wall. But when it lights up it creates an illusion akin to something you might see inside Disney World’s Haunted Mansion. The central part of the lantern illuminates, creating a shadow and bringing depth to the photo.

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At an exhibition titled In-Between, YOY will be presenting this lantern, alongside another work called Cutout: a chair that looks as if it had been cut out from a single sheet of steel. Alongside their new works they’ll also be presenting a mini-retrospective of previous works, many of which you can see here. The exhibition is being held at Opificio 31 in Milan through April 17, 2016.


This article is part of a series on our coverage of Japanese design at the 2016 Milan Design Week. You can see all our picks here.