lightjunction product launch #2: Charles Rennie Macintosh floor light from Woka

Carles Rennie Macintosh design for a street light for Glasgowlightjunction, 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

Woka will be introducing a floor light based on a design by Charles Rennie Macintosh for a street light for Glasgow.

A drawing is not nearly as exciting as a picture of the real thing.

STOP PRESS!!! The first picture of the Charles Rennie Macintosh floor light, taken in the workshop:

Woka Charles Rennie Macintosh floor light

Maybe you read the first sentence too quickly. Let me repeat,  Woka will be introducing a floor light based on a design by Charles Rennie Macintosh for a street light for Glasgow! This is FANTASTIC news!!

As I wrote to Wolfgang when he sent me this drawing, when we founded Cameron Peters Fine Lighting, our intention had been to create a collection of our own. Top of the list was re-editions of Charles Rennie Macintosh designs. I couldn't find anyone to share my enthusiasm (and they'd have to be well made), so all I've got is a book with a lot of post-It notes in it bookmarking great lights.

Whereas Woka is absolutely the right choice to re-edit his lights. If they are not to be made in Scotland, then Vienna is the obvious location, and Woka are the specialists in recreating designs of his period.

There are good reasons why one would not normally create a building or an object from the designer's drawings alone, but in Charles Rennie Macintosh's case, there are reasons why it is a good idea. These include the fact that so much of what he designed was never built or made.

Proof of that it can work is given by the successful creation in Glasgow, completed in 1996, of his  Haus eines Kunstfreundes, published in the Zeitschrift fur Innendekoration in 1902.

Here is the music room...

house of an art lover music room reconstruction

...and here is his drawing:

house of an art lover music room rendering

Here is the rendering of the dining room...

CRM house for an art lover dining room renderingand as built:

CRM house for an art lover dining roomNote the great lights in these two spaces! And note also the similarity of the dining room pendants to this ceiling light, WW-Direkt in the Woka collection, that Josef Hoffmann designed a year later, in 1903...

...hardly surprising given that Charles Rennie Macinstosh was in Vienna because the design movements there were so sympathetic to his work.

But there are also fantastic lights in interiors that he did finish -- the White House and the Glasgow School of Art in particular.

So let's thank Woka for creating this floor light -- and overwhelm them with requests for more Charles Rennie Macintosh. You can do that on their stand at lightjunction, of course!

lightjunction 18 22 September 2013


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lightjunction: trend #4 -- classic designs of the 20th century

Kalmar Dornstab floor light set

lightjunction, our new fine lighting event, will be collocated with designjunction at the Sorting Office on New Oxford Street during Londonn Design Week, 18-22 September 2013

The most significant trend in lighting over the last few years has been the re-issuing of classic designs from the past. All the great architects of the 20th century created lights; they should be available to us and increasingly they are.

The Viennese company Kalmar is 130 years old, so they have extensive archives, that include works designed by Josef Frank for Haus und Garten. They have started plundering them, in order to create their Werkstätten collection. The pieces are beautifully made -- here is a closeup of one of the hooks used to suspend the light in the Dornstab (shown in the image above) that allow you to position it in the perfect position for you to read by:

Kalmar Dornstab floor light reading light detail

Bringing these designs back also boosts our lightjunction trend #2 (carved and polished dark woods).

Also in Vienna, Woka are one of the two most important companies to be bringing back pre-war designs (the other being Tecnolumen, who focus on the Bauhaus and Modernist designs of the '20s and '30s). They benefit from founder Wolfgang Karolinsky's deep knowledge of and understanding of the early 20th century design movements in Vienna -- e.g. the Wiener Werkstätte, the Vienna Secession and the work of Josef Hoffmann.

The quality of both the design and the production of Woka items mean that they are for true connoisseurs. For example, when part of the Palais Stoclet was reconstructed at the Lower Belvedere for last year's exhibition Gustav Klint/Joseph Hoffmann -- Pioneers of Modernism, it was Woka to whom they turned to recreate the ceiling lights.

Here is their beautiful AD7 wall light in polished brass and glass, an anonymous art déco design from 1926:

Woka AD7 wall light

It can be nickel-plated -- or, because they do all the work themselves in their own workshops, they can make special versions for you.

But some of the finest 20th designs are in the collections of Scandinavian lighting companies.

&Tradition have Verner Panton's Flowerpot in two sizes, 13 different colours and finishes, and in various typologies (floor, table, wall). They look fabulous on their own, of course...

&Tradition Verner Panton Flower Pot pendant light red

...but they are also particularly well-suited to being hung in groups:

&Tradition FlowerPot chrome pendant light in a group.

&Tradition's collection also includes this pendant from Jørn Utzon (who designed the Sydney Opera House)...

&tradition Utzon pendant light

...and this reading light (there are wall and table versions too), Bellevue, from Arne Jacobsen:

&Tradition Arne Jacobsen AJ2 floor standing reading lightThe more you study Bellevue, the more realize that it is perfect (yes!): powerfully functional, elegant lines and nothing to be added and nothing to be taken away. To anybody designing a reading light subsequently, its very existence must be as demoralizing as the music of Monteverdi is to subsequent composers.

What are the other Scandinavian lighting companies doing?

Well, Carl Hansen is producing The Pendant by Hans Wegner (he of, inter alia, the Wishbone chair)

Hans Wegner The Pendant lightIt is adjustable up and down, using the good solid handle integrated into the design, that protrudes at the bottom.

Northern Lighting  Has brought back Sven Ivar Dysthe's Butterfly light of 1964:

Sven Ivar Dysthe Butterfly wall lightThere is also a copper version -- see our post about this light here.

Finally, Fritz Hansen have only one light in their collection -- but what a corker! It is Kaiser Idell Luxus by Christian Dell, the German silversmith who ran the metal workshop between 1922 and 1925, when the Bauhaus was in Weimar. Here it is:

Fritz Hansen Kaiser Idell Luxus table light redA post on 20th century classics is always going to have fantastic images of lights in it but, nevertheless, what a great note to end on. IMHO.

And there are other typologies! Here's group of them, chatting at a party:

Fritz Hansen Kaiser Idell Luxus lighting collection

lightjunction 18 22 September 2013


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lightjunction: trend #2 -- carved and polished dark woods

Channels Finnieston floor and table lights

Lightjunction, our new fine lighting event, will be with collocated with designjunction at the Sorting Office on New Oxford Street during London Design Week, 18-22 September 2013.

In 2012, designers discovered the fun of back-to-basics lights made using untreated pale woods. For previous decades, wood had rarely been used in lighting, other than by specialists like Secto and LZF (except for the pedestals of floor and table base'n'shade lights) .

2013 sees a return to the beauty of finely carved and polished darker woods. Channels is adding lights to their collection of elegantly proportioned and made pieces, using the materials that they use for their furniture -- for example, oak and walnut. You can see above the floor and table task lights the Finnieston collection.

The lack of heat produced by LEDs means that Channels can make not just the structure, but even the shades, out of wood. Here are the Three Wise Men -- three shapes in two sizes, made from solid American white oak or American black walnut, that can be used individually or in groups.

Channels Three Wise men wood pendant lightsOther darker woods are appearing as part of the revival of the great designs of the 20th century.

The illustrious Viennese firm of Kalmar is able to draw upon its own 130 year archive. Here is  the Admont2 from 1930. You can see the beautiful colour of the wood...

Kalmar Admont 2 wood chandelier

...and the close-up below (of an Admont6) gives some idea of the quality of line, of carving, of finishing and of detail:

Kalmar Admont6 wood chandelier detail

The result is warm, rich, comfortable and sophisticated. The wood choices include solid rosewood, wengé and oak, plus there are lacquered versions in satin matt red of black.

Also showing at lightjunction this year, and also from Vienna, Woka include in their collection of early 20th century lights the truly magnificent floor mounted uplighter, Flora, and of about 1930.

Woka Flora brass and wood floorstanding uplighter of 1930

The structure is in stained beech. The version above has brass detailing. There is also a black stained version, with nickel-plated brass, that has an even stronger art déco feel:

Woka Flora floorstanding uplighter of 1930 black and nickel

So the return to solid fine woods is making available again the sense of quality, style and connoisseurship that has been so abjured in recent years.

lightjunction 18 22 September 2013


Channels images courtesy of Philip Vile.

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The classic MGX lighting collection now with limited availability -- and collectible

MGX by Materialise OpenCube table light .MGX by Materialise tell us that:

.MGX would like to announce that a number of our Principal Collection pieces will move into our new Classics collection.

The Classics collection will consist of designs, including the award-winning Omi.MGX by Assa Ashuach, and Twister.MGX by Janne Kyttanen, which played an influential role in the history of .MGX. Now available only in very limited quantities, these designs are anticipated to become true collector’s items. We invite you to own a piece of design history before it’s too late!

And they are right -- they will become collectors' pieces! Suddenly, the whole world has become aware of 3D printing, with the fuss in America about 3D-printed guns (also a recent story line in NCIS) and a not-to-be-missed episode of The Big bang Theory....

But 3D-printed lights, made by stereolithography or selective laser sintering, have been around for ten years. This is a very good example of how the top end of the lighting market provides an opportunity for makers to try out commercializing, in small runs, new techniques and materials. Yet another reason why the world of fine lighting is so extraordinarily interesting!

We have believed, on the basis of nothing at all, that the original .MGX lights designed by Janne Kyttanen were the first commercially-available 3D printed consumer items, and that they were released by Materialise (one of the most important companies using the techniques to make prototypes) as a marketing exercise.

This means that these iconic lights will become collectors' items, not just because they are beautiful, and no longer made, but because they were the first of what we will all take for granted before long. Someone at BT said in the early 1980s that every office worker would one day have a computer on his or her desk. How we all laughed! Now it is being said that we'll all have our own 3D printers. Instead of buying things in shops, we'll download the program and make them ourselves. .MGX is called .MGX because that is the extension of the files they use in the computer that tells the 3D printer what to do -- and which were included on a disk in the box when you bought a light, so that you could make more of your own. Which actually you couldn't do because 3D printers were huge then, and very, very expensive. But it was a delightful touch that elegantly made the point about what 3D printing would one day be able to do.

So which are getting the Classic treatment? There is open_cube.mgx at the head of this post, and twister.mgx,

MGX by Materialise Twister shade


.MGX by Materialise Twister floor and table setthe omi.mgx pendant light,

Omi.mgx Materialise pendant light

and the fourth is metropolis_II.mgx:

Metropolis II .mgx by MaterialiseMetropolis II table light from .MGX by MaterialiseMetropolis .mgx by Materialise detailWe were worried that all these fabulous lights were being retired. Fortunately, many are still in the main collection, including the two first (and finest?) by Janne Kyttanen, Lily...

Lily .MGX by Materialise Janne Kyttanen

and Lotus...

. MGX by Materialise Lotus the mesmerizing Quin, the result of a formula fed into the computer that controls the 3D printer by the mathematician and artist Bathsheba Grossman:

Quin pendant light from .MGX by Materialise

See the full collection here. And snap up those limited editions before you have to pay a fortune for a second hand one at auction!

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All I want for Christmas is some MEMPHIS!

memphis ashoka table light Ettore Sottsass This is Ettore Sottsass's Ashoka that he designed for Memphis in 1981. It is still available!

We have been drawing your attention to re-editions of important 20th century designs from companies like FontanaArteGubi, Nemo, Tecnolumen, Woka &c.

But some have never stopped being available. In a sense, this does not work to their advantage, because there is no big publicity splash surrounding their reappearance.

So let's make a big splash here for possibly the most significant collection in this category: Memphis!

memphis super table light martine bedin

One evening in 1980, Ettore Sottsass had round to his house a number of other iconoclastic designers, such as Martine Bedin (that is her Super above), Michele de Lucchi (this is his Oceanic)

memphis oceanic table light michele de lucchi

and Matteo Thun (his Santa Fe):

Memphis Santa Fe pendant light Matteo Thun

They spent the night discussing the need for a new creative approach to design. They decided to form a design collective which they immediately christened Memphis, because they had been playing over and over in the background Bob Dylan's Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again.

I cannot conceive of a style of FF&E less likely to be specified at the moment. They are colourful; have mismatched -- often plastic -- surfaces; they are usually not symmetrical, they have content and meaning, referring as they do to art deco (Bay by Ettore Sottsass):

memphis bay table light Ettore Sottsass

fifities Dan Dare space fantasies (Peter Shire's Cahuenga):

Memphis Cahuenga floor light Peter Shire

jolly space creatures -- Martians? ( Martine Bedin's Terminus)

Memphis Terminus floor light Martine Bedin

and fun animals (Ettore Sottsass' famous Tahiti):

memphis tahiti table light Ettore Sottsass

The effect was hugely liberating: they could design what they wanted -- any shape, any material, any reference. And the result was works of great interest, wit and originality.

From the lighting collection, nothing sums up better how innovative designs could be as a result of this freedom than Peter Shire's Laurel of 1985:

memphis laurel table light peter shire

If you must use a fluorescent lamp, at least ensure that it has a separate ballast (the four used here do) and create something which is fun, joyous. Compare this to any other light that uses fluorescent lamps: are they as life-enhancing as this?! (From some angles it looks abstract, from others it looks like a bird.)

So, yes, you'd have to be courageous to specify items by Memphis at the moment, but supposing you have a client who wants intelligent, fun pieces (treat them as sculptures)...

...and/or a client who is design-aware and who therefore realizes the importance of these pieces. They may have attended the 2007 Ettore Sottsass exhibition at tthe Design Museum , for example, where they have seversal Memphis pieces in the permanent collection, including Gerard Taylor's Piccadilly:

Memphis Piccadilly table light Gerard Taylor

Of course, the Memphis collection is not just lighting! All the classics are there, including Sottsass's Carlton room divider:

Memphis Carlton room divider Ettore Sottsass

and this chair, Bel Air by Peter Shire:

Memphis Bel Air chair by Peter Shire

 Note that we have focussed in this post on the Memphis 1981-88 collection, but the descendants, as it were, have continued to design great things since.

The Memphis web site is here, and the link to the PDF catalogue is here.

Given the fame and importance of this collection, and the very high values that these pieces can now achieve at auction, there are inevitably many fakes around. Memphis therefore offer a service that will confirm authenticity (or not). Details here.

You are really excited about Memphis now, right? You want some, don't you? Well, that's just great, because here are Memphis gift ideas;

I really want one of those ties. Hint hint.

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