NY Design Week
Photo by Alex Welsh
The white walls of INTRO/NY made for the perfect display space for the venue's ample lighting designs. All of the weekend's shows had a good mix of design genres, but lighting fixtures—from wire task lamps to magnetic standing tube varieties—seemed to be on Smallpond founder Paul Valentine's mind as he curated this pop-up boutique at the Openhouse space located at 201 Mulberry in Soho. Lucky for me, I can describe one of my favorite design topics in one, overused movie buzz-phrase: "I love lamp." Needless to say, I felt right at home among Valentine's picks.
At the bottom of the stairs into the main gallery space, Canadian design studio Castor's minimalist tube lamps immediately caught my eye. Co-founder Brian Rich turned out to be a delightfully snarky conversationalist as he walked me through the product selection. Castor—which, as their business card states in bold, "is French for Beaver"—offered a wide selection of finishes, technology and styles available to take in. The most fun to play with came in the form of a magnetic tube light that lit up once the LED bulb is connected with the base (pictured below).
Castor's "Induction Tube Light" (left) and "Conic Section Pendant Light" (right)
Meanwhile, my companion, a photographer, gravitated toward Castor's "Reflector Floor Lamp." Upon first glance, you'd assume it's a misplaced piece of photography equipment with its golden light umbrella looks.
Castor's "Reflector Floor Lamp" // Photo by Alex Welsh
Castor's "Recycled Tube Light"
The "Spar Floor Light" by Jamie McClellan. Photo by Alex Welsh
Moving clockwise around the room brought you to New Zealand-based design group Resident. I was making some major "things that look like other things" connections while spending some time with what the Kiwis had to offer. My favorite of the bunch: "Spar Floor Lamp"—the mod cousin of the iconic Pixar lamp with a taut, bright red cord. I don't know what it was about this design, but the clean line of the cord really drew me in. There wasn't any of that excess cordage we're so accustomed to hiding throwing off the whole aesthetic.
Photo by Alex Welsh
Other notables: a guillotine-esque light, "Foundry Floor Lamp," that gave off a contradictorily soft glow, as did a series of mouth-blown glass pendants, "Parison," made of black and clear glass. The result is a hue you can't quite put your finger on—purple-y, murky and completely mysterious.
The "Parison" pendant by Nat Chesire. Photo by Alex Welsh
The "Foundry Floor Lamp" by Nat Chesire // Photo by Alex Welsh
There's something about heavy-looking pendant lights that appeals to me. It could be their overt defiance for gravity, but it also falls under my appreciation for unexpected materials in traditional designs. Decode—a design collective from London—fueled my need for contradictory material/functions with their "Heavy" series, designed by Benjamin Hubert. The concrete shades anchored Decode's display both with their hanging version and desktop style. If you take a look inside each shade, there are tiny bubbles and veins leftover from the days-long drying process when the structure is left in the mold to solidify giving each design its own, personalized texture. Each shade also had at least one chip along its edge and instead of looking sloppy, it was a welcome hit to the smooth, concrete perfection of its exterior.
"Heavy" by Benjamin Hubert
"Wire" hanging pendants by Studio Trevelyan // (on table from left to right): "Heavy Desk Light" by Benjamin Hubert, "Halcyon" by Anthony Dickens and "Vessel P" by Samuel Wilkinson
The "Vessel F" by Samuel Wilkinson was another eye-catcher. Inspired by a ship in a bottle, the Edison style Filament bulb takes the hull in this design. This is a spin on Wilkinson's previous design "Vessel P" which comes off as an ode to the Plumen 001.
"Vessel F" by Samuel Wilkinson. Photo by Alex Welsh
INTRO/NY only housed a small selection of the the luminous options this year's Design Week had to offer, but if we're talking bang for your buck—taxi fare/subway pass money that is, considering entry to the space was free—it was the place to be. Make sure to keep an eye on Paul Valentine and his group at smallpond for any upcoming events.