lightjunction: Zero's fresh thinking

Zero Daikanyama suspended lighting systemlightjunction, our new fine lighting event, will be collocated with designjunction at the Sorting Office on New Oxford Street during London Design week, 18-22 September 2013

Here are two new designs that illustrate well what we expect from the Swedish company, Zero.

Daikanyama (above), created by Thomas Bernstrand is named after a district of Tokyo. The design echoes the patterns of overhead cables that you find in a Japanese street. They flow between walls and poles, usually directly from one point to another, so that the path of a single cable makes sense but, when combined, there is a pleasing irregularity about the resulting composition. For example, here is an intersection on the edge of Daikanyama:


Thomas Bernstrand has drawn on this image to create an unusually flexible system of overhead lights mounted on cables. They are quite big (see the figure in the image above) and, at the moment, there is no outdoor version. The light bodies are aluminium, painted red or yellow or orange or white or black:

Zero Daikanyama suspended light system black For Silo, Zero turned to one of today's hottest design practices, Stockholm-based Note Design Studio.

Zero Silo pendant lightThough small (Ø150mm H 235mm), the shape is based on something big, a grain silo, giving it an industrial feel -- how industrial depends upon the colour chosen: white, black, yellow or green. The power cable supplying the energy is an integral part of the composition: in the same colour as the shade, it enters at the side near the top, like the grain being fed into a mill. (Actually, to me it looks like a cider flagon.)

Zero Silo pendant light green

Zero Silo pendant light black

Here are some Silos playing grandmother's footsteps:

Zero Silo pendant lights in a group

lightjunction 18 22 September 2013


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Stockholm: Svenskt Tenn and Michael Anastassiades

Michael Anastassiades Flight table light for Svenskt Tenn One of the most exciting interiors shops in the whole world is Stockholm's Svenskt Tenn.

One of the most exciting artists currently creating lights is Michael Anastassiades ( in our opinion, and as we made clear in our previous post about him, here).

So you can imagine how delighted we were to find that the two are cooperating. The backbone of Svenskt Tenn's collection is the work of the Austrian architect Josef Frank, who worked with Svenskt Tenn's founder, Estrid Ericson, from 1934 until his death in 1967.

Svenskt Tenn asked Michael Anastassiades for a "reinterpretation" of some of Josef Frank's works. This kind of concept usually goes terribly wrong, so we were delighted to see that what he created not only demonstrates a fine, nuanced understanding of, and respect for, Josef Frank's work, but also that his works stand alone -- they would be credible designs even if the background to them were not known.

An example is the Flight table light at the top of this post. A lovely light. And so is the likely source, Josef Frank's table light #2349 (look at the wonderful foot -- delicate, yet solid!):

Josef Frank 2349 table light in brass for Svenskt Tenn

Michael Anastassiades has taken an idea which echoes a Chinese lantern and created an entirely new design that recalls a hot air balloon. Now the brass foot is a whoosh upwards.

The other lights (it is not just lights in the collection, but this is Fine Lighting News!) are in this design, which comes as the Cylinder table light...

Michael Anastassiades Cylinder table light for Svenskt Tenn

...and the Hem (Home) floor light:

Michael Anastassiades Hem floor light for Svenskt Tenn

There are also versions of both lights that have a little pleated silk skirt added:

Michael Anastassiades Cylinder table light with pleated silk


Svenskt Tenn explain that:

Michael Anastassiades has created a series of products exclusively for Svenskt Tenn in which he plays with the concept of sincerity, through a reinterpretation of selected objects designed by Josef Frank for Svenskt Tenn.

Selected products will be produced as limited editions and others are to be included in Svenskt Tenn´s permanent assortment.

You can see the full collection (not just the lights) here. To get a rough idea of the prices in euros, divide by 10. And, with the weakness of the pound, the same calculation will currently (February 2013) indicate prices in sterling also. The Swedish VAT rate is 25%.



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Stockholm: Talk from Örsjö

Orsjo Talk applique white recessed You think you know a collection....

We were delighted by what we were seeing in Malmstenbutiken in Stockholm last Friday, and were particularly struck by a neat, elegant table light. We asked Jerk about it and he said that it was by Örsjö. Well, we are meant to know about lights, we know the Örsjö collection, and we had spent plenty of time on their stand at the Fair just the day before. But we did not recognize this light -- and one would definitely remember it. So, although we did not contradict Jerk out loud....

He was right, of course. It was Talk, by Marge Architects for Örsjö. There are four versions -- floor, table and wall (recessed and surface-mounted).

The recessed wall version is shown above because this image shows the detail most clearly. There is a metal body, enamelled in matt white or matt black. Both have a smart stitched brown leather ring. Even the light it casts is good, from a 12V halogen lamp.

The table version...

Orsjo Talk table light black

...and the floor version...

Orsjo Talk floor light

...have simple forms that could not be improved upon.

So, what can we learn from this experience? It is that there is never any substitute for seeing a light in the flesh, as it were. We had only seen pictures of Talk, so we had not grasped its quality -- how good it looks and how well made it is.

Here is the surface-mounted wall version:

Orsjo Talk wall light surface mounted


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Stockholm: Staken reading light by Carl Malmsten

Carl Malmsten Staken floor light birch, pine Well, what a wonderful city Stockholm turned out to be! Fine lighting News was there for the first time last week for the Stockholm Furniture Fair, which incorporates the Northern Light Fair.

Actually, we had expected it to be good because everybody we told we were going, who had been themselves, said the same things: (1) its a great city (and listed the things they suggested we did) and (2)  go in the summer when one can enjoy the open spaces and go out to the archipelago. Everybody we met there said the last bit as well.

But the Fair is when the Fair is, and most of what we wanted to do was indoors anyway. Over the next few posts, we'll draw your attention to some of the things that we found at the Fair itself, but Stockholm is blessed with excellent design/interiors shops and we found some important things in them too.

Next to Svenskt Tenn, one of the worlds's very finest interiors shops, and well able to hold its own in such august company, is Malmstenbutiken.

Malmstenbutiken Stockholm exterior

The shop is dedicated to the work of Carl Malmsten whose charming grandson, Jerk, now runs it.

Malmstenbutiken Stockholm interior

Carl Malmsten himself (1888-19720 is one of the most influential figures in 20th century design, who helped create the æsthetic that the rest of the world associates with Scandinavian furniture. This is well summed up on Malmstenbutik's web site:

[He] devoted his life to the renewal of traditional Swedish craftsmanship, inspired by the cultural examples of the Swedish country manor and rustic styles – furniture endowed with a creative simplicity, with a feeling for the wood itself, with function in mind and a high technical quality. [...]

Carl Malmsten was an individualist who took a strong position against the functionalism, which blossomed during the 30's. As an alternative he put forward a totally different program for a renewal of architecture and goods for everyday use. He fought for the right of humans to experience beauty.

His influence partly stems from important commissions, such as furnishing Stockholm City Hall and other key buildings in the city, such as the Concert Hall (where the Nobel prize giving ceremonies are held) and the Ulriksdal royal palace.  But probably more so from the two schools that he founded: the Carl Malmsten Furniture Studies in Stockholm (since 2000, part of Linköping University) and Capellagården on the island of Öland. He wanted to restore the tradition of apprentices learning from masters. Every piece of furniture is to be:

... extremely functional, each...representing a unique work of art. With masterly quality down to the smallest detail, these pieces represent the antique treasures of the future. Thus they are an excellent investment today.

The light that particularly struck us is the Staken adjustable floor-standing task light, that can be set to the perfect height for someone sitting reading in a chair. It can even have a little table attached for your schnapps:

Staken floor light in walnut cherry with table

He may have designed it as early as 1928 but the official date is 1941. However, it could have been designed yesterday, partly because wooden lights are so fashionable at the moment (this one comes in -- deep breath -- walnut, cherry, oak, mahogany, light birch, or pine, or it can be painted black or white),  but mostly because of its efficiency and  timelessness. Above all, it is very satisfying.

There is a wide choice of shades -- plain (in white, blue, green, brown or pink)...

Shade for Staken floor light white, blue, green, brown, pink

...or patterned:

Carl Malmsten Staken floor light patterned shades

So a wonderful light in a wonderful shop in a wonderful city!

Here's the man himself -- he was designing and planning right up to his death in 1972.

Carl Malmsten at his desk


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Stockholm's Furniture Fair and Northern Light Fair

Stockholm fair logos

The Stockholm Furniture Fair runs from the the 5th to the 9th February. It includes the Northern Light Fair.

This is very timely because there was a very real sense amongst the experts who were in Paris for Maison et Objet last month that the Japanese and Scandinavian stands were looking the sharpest.

Added to which, as a result of watching double bills of The Killing, The Bridge and Borgen on Saturday nights, Britons have never been more aware of Scandinavian culture -- or of Scandinavia, full stop. Those wonderful lights in the interiors in Borgen! Somehow one does not expect such design-awareness in 10 Downing Street....

The Japanese were showing very little lighting but there was plenty from Scandinavian makers. We are looking forward to being able to spend more times on their stands this week in Stockholm.

What are the Scandinavians doing that is so right? It is not really a common æsthetic (as it was in the 1960s) -- it would be difficult to imagine a more diverse, more eclectic collection of lights. Nor is there any magic. No, it is the basics that anyone could do (designers. materials, prices), underpinned by the makers' sensitivity to light and design, that is shared by enough of the populace to provide them with a market.

Design: they have strength in depth. Besides great designers from the past (Arne Jacobsen, Jørn Utzon), they are drawing on an amazing roster of contemporary designers -- Front (bsweden), Claesson Koivisto Rune (Örsjö, Muuto), Cecilie Manz (Muuto, and the incredibly successful Caravaggio -- for which a new wall light is being launched -- for Lightyears), plus Form us With Love (Muuto) and Louise Campbell (Muuto and Louis Poulsen, who are not exhibiting). Wästberg's business model is based on commissioning from famous designers.

Materials: wonderful use of glass, as one would expect (especially Muuto, bsweden) but also fabrics, acrylic, wood, marble, felt, even egg box material (from &Tradition)...

Prices: fair.

Here is an alphabetical list of who is exhibiting and where. (It is our selection but it may not be based on a complete list: omissions do not therefore necessarily indicate our disapproval!) Click on their names to go to their web sites.

&Tradition    A04 25

Artek    A35 10

bsweden    A09 20

Le Klint    A15 2

Lightyears    A31 41

Muuto    A04 41

Northern Lighting    A07 28

Örsjö    A07 21

Secto    A04 39

Valoa by Aurora A01 22 (who we don't know -- the Finnish/Canadian designer Aurora Nieminen only started the company a few months ago -- but we like the look of her colourful felt pendants. Please see the image at the foot of this post.)

Wästberg A12 20

Zero A09 14

There will be some brands showing in Stockholm, rather than at the fair:

Gubi will be at AB Evert Lindelöf at Hornsgatan 29 in Södermalm.

Non-Scandinavian exhibitors include:

Brunklaus A23 11 Delightfull B06 11 Innermost A09 01 La Murrina B02 19 Luceplan A04 10 LZF A09 45 Moooi A07 30 Tom Dixon A18 30

Outside the fair,

Foscarini  will be creating "Magic Windows" at 38C Rosenlundsgatan.

The Noa pendants from Valoa by Aurora:

Noa pendant lights from Valoa by Aurora

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