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Founders of A-N-D

On an industrial East Vancouver side street amid auto body shops, food processing plants and a smattering of creative agencies, there’s one business lit better than the rest: A-N-D. Step inside the lighting design studio and man­ufacturer and you’ll find a two-level workspace with 31 creatives; in the main room, some tap away at iMacs, others sip espresso, and all are bathed in the warm illumination delivered by A-N-D Slab pendant lights hanging overhead, which also work double-duty — thanks to their partial covering of Merino wool felt — to reduce acoustic ambient sound in the workspace.

In a bright back room, busy hands assemble fixtures with care; others load a van with boxes destined for Europe, Asia and the United States. A flight of stairs leads to an epicentre of material exploration (which could at any given time include fabric, concrete, aluminum, steel or glass), as well as 3D printing presses, a photography studio and an inspo-filled bookshelf. It’s also where you’ll find the offices of designers Lukas Peet and Caine Heintzman, who — along with president Matt Davis — co-founded A-N-D nearly a decade ago.

All three grew up in mountain towns: Canmore, Whistler and Edmonton, respectively. Davis and Heintzman first connected through snowboarding and skateboarding, and when they met Peet through acquaintances in the local design community, they recognized a shared passion for functional design. Peet had just returned to Canada after graduating from Design Academy Eindhoven — shortly after which he debuted the innovative Specular table light featuring a half-mirrored light bulb — and Heintzman had studied at ECUAD and Weißensee Kunsthochschule Berlin. In 2014, the trio formed ANDLight, each bringing a unique design language and theory to a practice built upon challenging the existing standards in lighting. (“AND” stands for “A New Detail.”)

On the global stage, their products have attracted attention for both their elegance and their sometimes supersized scales — such big bold releases as Slab, Iris, Pebble and Button are light fixtures and then some. The sheer drama of these sculptural designs has paid off: Today, the company has employees based in New York and San Francisco and a small office in Copenhagen. They also have a second Vancouver warehouse, giving them a total of 2,045 square metres of space in the city.

Iris pendants by A-N-D

“Each of us has a lot of crossover,” explains Peet, who received the inaugu­ral RBC Emerging Designer Award during A-N-D’s founding year. “But we also have specialties, to a certain degree.” In addition to being designers, Peet takes on the creative direction while Heintzman harmonizes the product direction; Davis provides steady leadership through it all. From a production standpoint, all A-N-D products are designed, prototyped, tested and assembled in house. For each component, they source from the most qualified vendors in Asia, Europe and North America. A fresh luminaire collection debuts every two years to take to the world stage. In 2023 alone, A-N-D showed at ICFF in New York, Milan Design Week, 3daysofdesign in Copenhagen and, in September, Paris Design Week. (They’ve recently dropped “light” from the original name.)

“Our objective from the very beginning was always to design and manufac­ture for the entire world market,” explains Davis. “The exposure in Europe [in recent years] created instant validation for us in knowing that our intentions were successful.” Despite the fact that their product is recognized and sold globally, awe sometimes strikes when the trio spot their designs in the wild. “In Milan this April, we walked past a retail store and saw a light we created,” says Heintzman. “It’s still kind of flabbergasting.”

The following month, Heintzman’s Iris pendant was suspended front and centre at their ICFF booth in New York. The grand orb of light encased in a large-scale elliptical shell appears at once imposing and ethereally weight­less, and it garnered attention with its naturally magnetic appeal. “The goal of this luminaire was to introduce a voluminous fixture to our collection,” explains Heintzman. “And there is a bit of an optical illusion going on with Iris. [It appears as though] the light is floating. Where’s the power source? How is it held together? To figure all that out was a technical journey.”

In devising Iris, Heintzman sought to explore the effect achieved by dif­fusing light through the convex shape of thermoformed acrylic. “By taking a familiar material and changing the form, it transformed the quality of dif­fusion and created an unexpected effect,” says Heintzman. To add further dynamism, he decided to make Iris modular: The light is composed of top and bottom halves; two depths are available of each so the client may choose the combination depending on their preferred look. The acrylic is manufac­tured in Germany, shipped to Vancouver, then cut and thermoformed locally.

Vector pendant by A-N-D

Iris, like all of Heintzman’s designs, began with a pen-and-paper sketch. He usually starts his process there, investigates material possibilities and does a deep dive into physical modelling. Conversely, Peet takes a methodical approach, executing concept exploration with a goal in mind. “Initial inspira­tion can come from anywhere; it could be mate­rial-based, technique-based,” says Peet. “I take that and see how it is connected to light, then see how I can shape the light to get a certain result.”

Milan Design Week 2023 marked the debut of Peet’s Vector series, which was inspired by the raw quality of Richard Serra’s artworks. For this industrial fixture, Peet placed special emphasis on material (steel) but still approached the design methodically. “For most products in general, and of course ours, there is a material, and a finish is applied to it,” says Peet. “I wanted to skip that pro­cess completely and design something where you pick the finish based on the material.”

Each component of the light is cut from one sheet of steel, and the three finish options feel inherent to the material: weathered, blackened or stainless steel. In the striking pendant version, which is hung by aircraft cables, light pours into a hollow centre and onto the inner and outer faces bidirectionally. Peet refined the theoretical 2D design so that it could be applied to anything that is a sheet — wood or glass, for example — open­ing up the possibility of a range of creations based on one bold design. Speaking of bold, Vector also made a splash at Milan’s “Alcova” off-site event in a defunct abattoir; the pendants were suspended along the central portico at Bar Galleria. The brutalist pendants played off the raw surround­ings (plants, graffiti, concrete) to dramatic effect. “Alcova gave us the opportunity to show our artis­tic side,” adds Davis.

For a very different look, Peet’s classically inspired Column pendant took centre stage in Copenhagen. Here, symmetrical segments of machine mould-blown glass cylinders are stacked either vertically or horizontally, creating a Grecian Doric column reference with a contemporary twist.

The modular design enables the stacking of varying numbers of pieces; one office in Australia ordered a custom horizontal fix­ture with 27 pieces, expanding the space above an entranceway desk in a most grandiose way. A-N-D’s clientele is about 30 per cent residential and 70 per cent commercial/hospitality, based on volume of orders.

Next fall marks A-N-D’s 10-year anniversary, and the com­pany continues to push the boundaries of lighting design. From a material standpoint, both designers want to explore casting — glass, plastics, metal — and from an innovation standpoint, the company is already implementing the latest dim-to-warm technology, which allows LEDs to be dimmed while controlling colour temperature and intensity simultaneously, mimicking incandescence. “With this technology, our LEDs are coming on at 3000 kelvin,” says Davis. “A full, bright blast. And when you dim them, they go down to 1800 kelvin, which is a romantic, warm, dusk light.” Effectively, it’s a much more usable light that fills a need for variance throughout the day, and it also escalates beautiful design into a highly functional piece that can affect the mood and well-being of those within a space. Currently, this technology is available in almost every A-N-D design.

This dimming detail may seem small, but it goes hand in hand with a clarity of purpose that’s formed the core of the company since day one: functionality. “We make light fixtures, not deco­rations,” says Davis. “Yes, they are decorative lights, but these are very functional objects.” Extreme care is taken to showcase the lights exactly as they are, be it in the photography studio or otherwise; they aim to create no illusion that is not naturally present in the design — and it pays off. “Usually, after just seeing catalogue photos, one of the comments we get is, ‘This is much more beautiful in person,’ ” admits Davis. “To us, that’s the ulti­mate compliment.”

Portrait, top of article, by Alejandro Ramírez Orozco.

How Vancouver’s A-N-D Has Built an International Lighting Brand

Run by Lukas Peet, Caine Heintzman and Matt Davis, A-N-D is now a regular exhibitor in Milan, New York and beyond – its eye-popping fixtures ever garnering new admirers around the world.

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