Sharon Marston's wonderful installation in Clerkenwell heralds an exciting new direction

Sharon Marston Willow Installation - Order of St Johns [This is a repost. A technical glitch removed the previous version.] 

Sharon Marston had a very good stand at the May Design Series out at ExCeL...

stand at May Design Series 2013

...which showed the kind of work for which she is best known -- and which demonstrated yet again that she is the finest artist in the world working with fibre optic filaments.

But, during the same week, she had an installation at the Order of St John, as part of Clerkenwell Design Week, that was completely different.

Willow Installation - Order of St Johns - 2

Instead, of the main structure being cracked fibre optic filaments, with delicate shapes wafting through them, this time Sharon Marston has used willow branches that were woven together at her studio.

There are fibre optic filaments, but they are almost invisible: what they contribute is tiny points of light that animate the installation.

Sharon Marston Willow Installation - Order of St Johns - Detail 2

And what look like real flowers are in fact 5,000 woven brass mesh flowers, all made by hand, also in that busy studio.

Sharon Marston Willow Installation - Order of St Johns - Detail 1

The result was enchanting -- a real sense of rus in urbe -- and, in its echo of a flower-strewn bower made from one of the trees most commonly found in England, a link to an imaginary bucolic past.

The result was also sustainable: the willow grows so easily (if the cricket bat willows by our lake are anything to go by!) that, environmentally, this installation merely kissed the earth...

Sharon Marston Willow installation at the Order of St johns


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New to our Light Finder: GRAYPANTS

GRAYPANTS Scraplights Ausi pendant light Lights made out of cardboard and corrugated paper. It shouldn't work, but it does -- spectacularly well, as graypants Scraplights© prove.

Two things happen:

1.       the lamp casts the warmest, cosiest light

graypants scraplights cardboard corrugated paper detai

2.       the simple pattern of the corrugated paper creates fascinating and varied patterns when the circular shape cuts across it:

graypants scraplights disc pendant lightLovely singly, they work particularly well in multiples. Here they are hung at random heights...

graypants scraplights moon pendant lights are these ones over a bar:

graypants scraplights discs in a bar

Whereas these, also over a bar, are hung more formally:

graypants scraplights ausi pendant lights over a bar

So who is behind graypants? The name makes sense when you discover that it is a design studio set up in America, in Seattle, by best friends Jonathan Junker and Seth Grizzle. Here they are:

jon junker and seth grizzle of graypants

Not all the scraplights are pendants. Here is a cute Tilt table light, for example (note how well scraplights work in wood-dominated interiors!):

graypants scraplights tilt able light

Nor are the scraplights all that graypants do. In Milan, Jon showed me a prototype of their new line, the steplights, made of metal. When we have prices and know they are available, we'll post about them.

So, you really want to specify them now, but you have two concerns.

The first is that, because graypants' scraplights orginate in America, probably only UL versions are being made, and so they can't be used anywhere else in the world. Fortunately, this is not a problem. Like one or two other small American studios, they want to export and have therefore engineered international versions of their lights. Not only do they have certificates of conformity to CE standards, but they also now have an operation in the Netherlands.

Obviously, your second concern about cardboard lights is how durable they are. Are they going to fall to pieces?

They are clearly very well made, by graypants themselves, and they assure me that there have been scraplights hanging in commercial premises for several years now, with no problems. After all, once they are up, they will not be handled very much.

However, it would probably be wise not to put them in direct sunlight, and one should follow the maker's own guidance (as with any product). So lets' finish by seeing what graypants themselves say about the quality and care of the scraplights:

graypants scraplights quality


They care about the lights they make and want their owners to be happy, so they are not going to wash their hands of them. As you saw, if there is a problem with a scraplight, they are asking you to get in touch with them.

graypants scraplight Arcturus pendant light

Personally, I am reassured, which is why we are including these super lights in our LIGHT FINDER.

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Stockholm: the Noa pendant from Valoa by Aurora

Aurora Niemisen When we are putting together our PDF Handy Guides to recommended stands at the major trade fairs, we sometimes put in a wild card -- a brand of which we have no direct experience but, from what we've read, sounds really interesting. Our wild card for Maison et Objet was the Spanish company, PCM Design. When we saw their products and met the founder,  Paloma Cañizares, on their stand, their inclusion was fully vindicated.

As was our wild card for the Stockholm Furniture Fair, Valoa by Aurora, founded by the delightful Finnish-Canadian designer Aurora Neiminen in the summer of 2011.

That is Aurora above, holding their first product, the Noa Pendant....

Valoa by Aurora Noa pendants 1

...which comes in two sizes, Ø50cm...

Valoa by  Aurora Noa pendant 50cm

...and Ø30cm:

Valoa by  Aurora Noa pendant 30cm

The standard finishes are black, grey or natural white. The material is soft, like felt, but is in fact recycled PET (pop bottles). However, a much wider range of colours is available...

Europost2 felt colours

by making an extra layer from Gabriel's Europost2 felt collection.

Valoa by Aurora Noa Pendant colours

The standard light source is a triac dimmable 3000K or 4000K 15W LED, belting out 1200 lm. The acrylic diffuser is made so much more interesting by having that bulge in the centre. It is designed to spread glare-free light.

As far as possible, everything has been sourced from Finland for, like PCM Design in Spain and Ilide in Italy, Valoa by Aurora is a new company specifically created to produce ecologically-sound products, using young local designers and craftspeople.

Perhaps they would each have done this anyway, but we see this exciting trend being partly a result of the determination of gifted, energetic people to do something practical to offset the evils of underemployment on other one hand, and mass-produced, meaningless -- heartless --  stuff on the other.

Fine Lighting News would be minded to support such initiatives on principle. How much better it is, though, that the quality of the design and production of the products of all three is so high.

Here is Aurora exhibiting for the first time, at Habitare Helsinki in September 2012, nervously wondering how the World will greet the newly-born Noa pendant. Well, as we now know, she needn't have worried!

Valoa by  Aurora Noa stand at Habitare, Helsinki



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Maison et Objet: most endearing light -- Companion from Discipline

Discipline Companion task light by SmithMatthias Endearing. There are lights that are cute -- maybe they look like little people, or birds, or animals -- but Companion, IMHO, is not cute. Companion is endearing.

The Italian company producing it, Discipline, seem to think so too -- they point out that its "...animated look make it it an ideal desk companion, enjoyable and likeable" (hence the name!).

And the British couple who designed it, Jack Smith and Gemma Matthias, think of it as "engaging and elegant in appearance, intuitive and effortless in function".

But it is not just endearing, it is also an unobtrusively clever piece of design, because you don't see the cable at all, once it has entered the base. The power is carried invisibly up the ash structure to the lamp in the steel head.

I think that the version on their stand at Maison et Objet had ball joints that were different colours, but the versions listed for sale on the Discipline web site are black (see above) or red:

Discipline Companion task light by SnithMatthias red

Discipline is an interesting new brand launched as recently as April 2012. You may have seen them at designjunction during London Design Week. They only do this light and one other at the moment, but they already have quite a large catalogue of furniture, accessories, tableware and gifts from an impressive roster of designers that includes Marc Sadler, Claesson Koivisto Rune, James Irvine and Nendo. And there are more to come.

The unifying factor is that the materials used are sustainable: "Each product is built with materials selected for their self-regenerating properties, such as wood, cork, bamboo, glass, natural textiles and eco upholstering, obtained by sustainable production methods."

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United pendant by Victor Vetterlein

United pendant by Victor Vetterlein It is the magic of light and glass that underpins decorative lighting. This is not just because of how light and glass interplay with each other, but also because of the infinite variety of what we are able to to do--with glass itself, and by combining it with other materials.

United pendant by Victor Vetterlein, sectionHere, Victor Vetterlein (great home page, BTW) has combined recycled glass with rubber, using the same basic shape in a carefully balanced variety of sizes. See Mocoloco.

he is also responsible for Trash Me for &Tradition (the table light that looks like it is made out of egg boxes) and the Sprig Lamp.

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