“My love for design was founded in food, where you eat with your eyes, followed by your palate. I believe this sparks synergies between the visual and experiential nature of design,” says Australian lighting designer Nicci Green. The Melbourne native trained as a chef before launching her studio, Articolo, in 2012, leaping into the business blind.
“Although I had a background in food styling and interior and product design, I didn’t know anything about lighting — which, in hindsight, is perhaps a blessing, as I may never have embarked on this journey had I been aware of the challenges,” she says. But she saw a gap in the market in her home country. “Most of the high-end decorative lighting [was] coming out of Europe and the United States,” says Green, who has always been drawn to a European, slow-design sensibility. Her response was lighting that blended the fluidity of glass with myriad solid metals. Articolo’s first light, Lumi — a cloche-like fixture of glass, linen and hand-worked metal — put the studio in the spotlight. Now with showrooms in Melbourne and New York, it has created pieces for luxury hotels, hospitality venues and residences globally.
Born into a family of painters, sculptors and woodworkers, Green comes by her artistic side naturally, and it shows. Her designs, refined yet organic, possess an intangible quality because they are handmade, which gives each one a nuanced personality. “The soul and human touch of hands creating and crafting is so special — something that cannot be replicated in machine-driven processes,” she says.
Articolo’s pared-back pendants, sconces and lamps are made primarily from enduring materials: mouth-blown glass, solid metals, leather and marble. Green ruminates over each of her designs for a long time before it’s realized. “I turn it over in my mind and work to resolve the composition and design details,” she says. “The creative process varies in each design. In some instances, it can take as little as a few months, however, some pieces can take years to resolve through extensive experimentation.”
Now employing 20 and collaborating with more than 50 artisans and suppliers, the studio continues to explore process and materials — cast glass, timber veneers, enamel, sand-cast bronze — and has begun producing its own LED boards. It’s also veering into outdoor lighting in early 2022, and is set to release a new series called Tubi; channeling the late 1970s and early ’80s, this gilded collection is high glamour in a modernist form reminiscent of the era of excess.
“It’s crucial to consider how the light will be cast to create a particular ambience. I love the drama of shadow play — the ephemeral contrasts between light and dark,” says Green. To that end, the studio’s sophisticated engineering is shrouded in a beautiful, contemporary form. Metal components, for instance, are simplified and honed multiple times so as to not appear industrial. She learned the “art of reduction” in yet another previous life, as a lifestyle and travel editor. “We would often style a set and then remove two thirds, applying the dictum ‘less is more.’ We explore the same ethos in our lighting design and metal fittings.”
Nicci Green, its founder and creative director, uses light as her artistic medium.