Float from Artemide by James Irvine, who died last night

James Irvine -- dezeen

Sadly, James Irvine died last night at a hospital in Milan, where he had practised since graduating from the RCA in London in 1984, having gone there initially to act as a design consultant to Olivetti. He moved in the same circles as other design heroes of ours, such as Ettore Sottsass and Michele De Lucchi. He was to work with many of the world’s great design-led brands, most recently Thonet and Muji.

There is a brief obituary to him on Dezeen here, that inlcudes this interview filmed in 2010.

Also sadly, for us, he did not create many lights. But he was responible for one of the finest, simple designs — Float for Artemide.

There is a round ceiling version, Ø565mm H110mm: Continue reading

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How to pass the time in the office #6 — define England in pictures

Tarn Howes

It has been quite a while since we’ve suggested ways for you to pass the time in the office. This one sounds simple, but could last a lifetime…. We have been asked to submit some pictures that will sum up England.

Where to start? These are our initial observations:

1.    the sheer quantity of characteristics to which one would like to draw attention, and

2.    the variety within each one.

So, to keep the number of pictures down to a manageable quantity, each one will have to stand for more than one characteristic.

Thus, the picture of Tarn Howes in the Lake District (above) represents the English landscape. But it is not as untouched by human hand as it may look — it was adjusted in the nineteenth century to be more picturesque. So it also recalls the artform invented by the English — landscape design — that led to “English Gardens” in so many other European countries. It is not a million miles from a real English Garden — Stourhead:


This includes a classical temple. There was philosophy underpinning landscape garden design: if God is a perfect being, he must have created a perfect world. The trouble is that we’ve let it get into a bit of a mess, so it is our duty to tidy it up. What should it look like when it is tidy? Easy: a painting by Claude Lorraine. There are classical remains in his pictures. Continue reading

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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. Continue reading

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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… Continue reading

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Stockholm: Leaf pendant from bsweden

bsweden Leaf pendant light orange

Besides their appearance, pendant light shades differ in the degree of translucency. A shade that is not translucent at all will prevent glare and cast all its light downwards onto a table below. On the other hand, it will cast no radiant light.

In fact, it may even be difficult to tell whether the light is on or not. The result is a dead object which obstructs views.

bsweden Leaf  pendant light birch


Bsweden‘s Leaf pendant light, designed for them by Marit Stigsdotter and Staffan Lind, is made from laminated sheets of wood — not translucent at all. But the way the four panels are arranged (prompted by a pad of Post-it Notes) leaves gaps between, so that some light comes directly out, and it is also possible to glimpse the inside. At no point do you see the lamp, so there is no glare.

There are two sizes — Ø36cm and Ø52cm. The larger one comes in orange and birch, as above, plus black and white. Continue reading

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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: Continue reading

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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. Continue reading

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Maison et Objet: Koket — “devotion to the seduction of the exquisite and to the provocation of love”

Koket Hypnotic chandelier detail

Koket is an exhilarating  gloriously, fabulously over-the-top collection founded by the New York-based interior designer Janet Morais in 2010.The range of furniture (tables, cupboards, chairs, mirrors) includes nine lights — so far.

The one we are focusing on in this post, the Hypnotic chandelier, is initially the least spectacular (really!). But it is a design that stays with you — we are looking forward to seeing it again. It was also the Most Wanted item on their stand, where we were encouraged to “feel this piece’s savage beauty…”.

Here it is in full:

Koket Hypnotic chandelier

For once, the catalogue and press release text exceeds anything that I could write, so… Continue reading

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Maison et Objet: Vibration from Saint-Louis


Saint-Louis Vibration horizontal table light

The Cristalleries de Saint-Louis is not just one of the world’s finest crystal companies, since being granted their letters patent by Louis XV in 1767, they have been one of the most illustrious French enterprises of any kind.

Primarily known for their distinctive ranges of chandeliers along traditional lines, we were not prepared for the dramatic contemporary piece at the entrance to their stand at Maison et Objet, shown in this little picture:

Saint-Louis Vibration chandelier

This is the the latest addition to the Vibration range that is being designed for them by Éric Gizard.

As we have to keep pointing out, the power of light plus crystal can never be captured in a still photo, especially when the real thing benefits from cutting of this quality. But, without the glorious distraction of sparks of refracted colour, at least you can see the details of the crystal clearly!

Look again at the image at the top of this post — the Horizontal Table Light in the Vibration collection. Èric Gizard has taken Saint-Louis’ emblematic diamond cut and added movement (vibration — geddit?!), by introducing hand-cut curves. Here is the Vertical version of the table light:

Saint-Louis Vibration Vertical Table Light

You can see how the outer diamonds are regular: they become progressively distorted towards the centre, which is where the light source is concentrated. Maybe the picture below of the lights in a showroom gives a better impression of their impact: Continue reading

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UL and NRTL System No Longer Required for Lighting Manufacturers

UL logo red

Via Philips on LinkedIn HERE, NAILM and ALTA have announced that lighting manufacturers will no longer be required to use UL. Note, however, that Fine Lighting News has not been able to substantiate anything about NAILM or ALTA, so CAVEAT LECTOR!

Also, most lighting manufacturers are aware that they can use other laboratories: the problem is more that they don’t know which ones are available to them.

Nevertheless, assuming that the facts are correct, the story is a useful lesson in how UL got into its virtual monopoly position, and why they can charge so much. 

We would welcome any informed comment on this post — please “Leave a Reply” using the boxes at its foot.

This is what ALTA/PHILIPS are saying: Continue reading

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