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Let there be Light

Max Makewell

I worked with Nobu in Miami’s Eden Roc Hotel to create an eight-foot tall light tower.


Developing this piece — called Nostalgia — required using new methods: experimenting with electricity and structural engineering. I reached out to Chris Darsow, the owner of Art Force, to help me in these areas. 

The inspiration for Nostalgia came as a byproduct of working with Raydoor’s founder, Luke Seigal, who’d invited me to participate in his gallery show, named Division. The show was unique in that he provided his custom, translucent doors as a surface for each artist’s vision.


Each door contained acrylic panels which, when painted upon, produced the effect of stained glass. I decided to recreate this effect using a light source encased within the structure of my towers.

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My plan was to bring my traditionally two-dimensional Rorschach paintings into the third dimension and create a fully-immersive experience. I began by painting ten acrylic panels. When layered, these panels created a parallaxing visual effect which gave them an illusion of depth. Then I reconstructed LED light bulbs to amplify the flow of light through the towers.

After three months of experimentation and construction, I managed to complete the first of my two towers. The next tower took me just two weeks to bring from my mind into the tangible world.

When finished, the towers stood eight feet tall.


During Art Basel, my work was placed next to the entrance to Nobu in Miami’s Eden Roc hotel. Seeing my art activate the space of a world-renowned brand filled me with pride, as did the many little pings and vibrations of my phone notifications. People from all walks of life had been sharing selfies and videos of themselves with the piece.  

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The public’s reaction made me realize how incredible it would be to showcase my work across a vast scale.  I envisioned building thirty-four new light towers, one for each Nobu in the U.S.

It's stunning to me how a small project like the Division show can lead to other, larger projects. In the span of just three months, painting on a sliding door led me to create an eight-foot tall light installation for the world’s most recognized Japanese restaurant.

Unexpected partnerships often lead to my best work. There’s a certain freedom in moving from one creative project to the next, never knowing exactly what is around the corner.

P.S.– the creation of these light towers would not have been possible without the assistance of Faulkner Plastic, who went above and beyond by providing all of the materials, storage, and more for this project.