In his youth, Magnus Wästberg followed his lighting manufacturing father on trips across Europe, visiting factories and listening to conversations about illumination with clients and suppliers. “Every time I went to see clients in their big offices, the lighting always made me feel poorly,” he recalls. “I had a strong sense that the way we do lighting doesn’t make us feel well.” So in 2008, when he decided to launch his own brand after a career detour as a management consultant, he knew exactly what kind of company it would be.
“I wanted to create products,” he says, “that had the highest aesthetic, technical and emotional quality.” Some 12 years later, Wästberg has become known for its technically advanced, impeccably designed lighting for offices and beyond, as well as for high profile collaborations with such industry luminaries as Ilse Crawford, Inga Sempé, David Chipperfield, John Pawson and Jasper Morrison. Who beter, then, to share tips of the trade for keeping a lighting brand’s lights on long-term?
What struck me early on was that the industry was polarized. Some companies are technically focused, other companies are aesthetically focused. And there was no one really doing both, in my opinion. I wanted to combine both of these elements.
It’s fundamental to have an idea that solves real problems and fulfills real needs. In our industry, a product must be relevant and meaningful. You need to understand the customers. You have to find them a solution, whether that is a product or a service.
If you look at our collaborators, they’re all very different in some aspects, but have a common denominator: They are thinkers. They’re people who really care about how we live and how we can improve well-being through products, interiors and architecture. They dig deep to find solutions that are both functional and emotional. To do that, you need to think hard about the values that allow us to live better lives. It’s not about style or form. It’s much deeper and much more complex.
If you want to develop and produce meaningful products — taking into account functional, technical, emotional, aesthetic and sustainable aspects — then you need to understand that it takes a lot of time. If you’re only in it to make money, there are ways to do things much quicker. But if you want to develop relevant products, it’s important to understand that this requires time and a lot of investment.
In lighting, we are in the middle of a rapid shit in technology. What was true two years ago is not always so later. You need deep knowledge and a broad network of collaborators that have the ability to manoeuvre and take advantage of these developments, but who understand that what is technically possible is not always human. Human well-being is at the core of everything we do, and technology must be able to serve this in the best possible way.
Magnus Wästberg’s eponymous label sits at the intersection of high technology and flawless design.