Combining magnetic levitation and creative imagination, Flyte produces stylishly designed homewares that float magically in mid-air
The scene in Back to the Future Part II in which Marty McFly escapes local bullies on a floating hoverboard is cherished by cinemagoers the world over. One person who remembers it particularly well is Simon Morris, who was so inspired by the futuristic vision that it led to the creation of his company, Flyte.
Flyte’s home furnishings exist somewhere between minimalist architecture, technological experimentation and the surrealist mind of Salvador Dalí. Simon’s creations include hovering light fixtures, floating plants that rotate in mid-air and the world’s first levitating timepiece. “If we were to describe what we do in two words, we’d call it ‘design magic’,” Simon explains, speaking from his design studio in Riga, Latvia.
Raised in the Bronx in New York City, Simon was a keen skateboarder from a young age. “With skateboarding, you resist being held to the ground, and you’re always trying to seek higher planes,” he says. “What could be a better use of that feeling than to apply it to your life and your work?” So, inspired by Marty McFly, he began merging his two passions – skateboarding and sci-fi. In 2009, after studying a master’s at the University of Gothenburg, Simon began work on what he previously thought impossible: a hoverboard, albeit one that stood stationary.
For this invention, Simon embedded magnets into the board, which was then held up by an electromagnetic unit. “We put it on public display and had signs saying ‘Please don’t touch’, but people would grab it,” he laughs. “It gave them a feeling of ‘how is this possible?’ They saw this floating wonder and felt they had to test it!”
Simon went on to spend years refining this technique, which he now calls “magnetic levitation”, and has since applied it to light bulbs, plant pots, clocks and tables. What began as a small team of three has grown to a team of 11, and Flyte now counts Will Smith and Time magazine as supporters, the latter naming it as one of the “25 Best Inventions of 2016”.
“Art enables us to express ideas differently,” says Simon. “I want to be transported somewhere out of my normal daily routine, and we’ve always tried to meet that challenge. Who says that a table has to have four legs? Maybe it doesn’t need to have any.”