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Spotlight: Lighting
In this issue's spotlight on lighting, we feature a dazzling restaurant canopy, a global initiative seeking to switch off light poverty, and lots of great new table, wall and ceiling fixtures.
Partisans Draws on Canyons and Constellations at Vela Restaurant
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Articolo’s Light Design is All About Creating Ambiance
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Light Bureau’s Morten Jensen on the Brightest Side of Architecture
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How Light Reach Is Fighting Light Poverty on a Global Scale
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4 Space-Defining Pendant Lamps
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4 Quirky Table Fixtures
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4 Sophisticated Sconces with Sculptural Appeal
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Spotlight: Lighting

Behind every striking rock formation is a story about the slow, sculptural forces of the past. In the design of Vela, a new restaurant in Toronto’s King West neighbourhood, architecture studio Partisans has related the idea of weathering and erosion to a sense of timelessness to address the rich layers of the project’s setting, the 1904 Parisian Laundry Building. “We wanted to respect the residue of brick and timber but also to breathe in new life,” says firm partner Jonathan Friedman.

Vela reimagines part of the 1904 Parisian Laundry Building.

Prior to its latest reinvention as a destination dining environment, Vela’s portion of the historic landmark most recently operated as an office. While the space provided...

“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.

Photo Credit: Willem Dirk Du Toit

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.

“We would often style a set and then remove two thirds, applying the dictum ‘less is more.’
Nicci Green
The Lumi lamp was Articolo’s first launch and set the tone for what was to come: handcrafted artisanal fixtures that masterfully merge materiality, form and elegance.

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.

Pairing interlocked glass with brass elements (or bronze or satin nickel), the Loopi wall sconce balances sophistication with a sculptural expression.

“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.”

Morten Jensen is illuminating on many different levels. From calculating the amount of daylight an interior will receive to figuring out the technical intricacies required to brighten up tunnels or airports, the role of an architectural lighting designer is more involved than it may at first appear. Working with both public and private spaces — from urban areas and roads to offices, hotels and more — global firm Light Bureau, for which Jensen manages two offices, brings its expertise to the entire construction process. Unsurprisingly, it has worked on some pretty major projects, such as Bjarke Ingels Group’s The Twist in Norway and the Heatherwick Studio–designed Maggie’s Leeds. Azure caught up with Jensen to learn why architectural...

When stores of ammonium nitrate exploded at the Port of Beirut on August 4, 2020, the city’s notoriously strained power grid sustained significant damage, leaving thousands in the dark. Though some power lines have since been restored, widespread darkness persists. There are daily rolling blackouts, and the private backup generator system is too expensive for most people to afford. It’s “light poverty,” says Nathalie Rozot, founder of New York–based lighting think tank PhoScope. “Kids can’t study. You can’t cook at home. Life outside is dangerous: People can be attacked or can fall and hurt themselves.”

In collaboration with Live Love Beirut, Light for Lebanon installed ten solar streetlights on the Salah Labaki Road in...
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Stem Pendant by Hollis + Morris

Peeking out from beneath Stem’s tidy spire-shaped support like a flower bud, a hand-blown, frosted glass diffuser transforms settings with subtle radiance. Continuing its material exploration, Toronto studio Hollis + Morris has rendered the streamlined design in solid oak (in natural, white or black) or walnut and capped it with a brushed brass, copper or stainless-steel cord-grip.

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Ceramic Disc Orb Pendant by In Common With

Slip-cast by hand, each shade in the Ceramic Disc Orb collection expresses its own unique character, imperfections and all. The refined industrial-style clay fixture can be left raw or pigmented in one of five colourways, and each in turn can be...

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Nile by Foscarini

Rather than hiding the light source, architect Rodolfo Dordoni gives it statement-making pride of place with Nile, his first wholly new design for Foscarini in decades. Two volumes — a small yet sturdy marble base and a larger delicate glass diffuser — are poised in a way that seems to defy gravity but stay in place through static weights and precise junctures.

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Nancie by Viso

One of three avian-inspired lamps in the Feathers family, penguin-like Nancie possesses a magnetic and unconventional charm all her own. Squat and shapely, the resin body is offered in three high-gloss colour and metal combinations: Midnight Blue with brushed brass, Smokey Rose with brushed brass and terrazzo, and...

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Vale by Andlight

Vancouver designer Caine Heintzman’s Vale series is now offered in a ceiling/wall format. Surface-mounted vertically or horizontally, individually or in groupings, the thermoformed acrylic diffuser projects light through a prismatic lens, creating an intriguing effect. Ideal for use in narrow corridors or spaces with low ceilings, the rigorous design conceals the electrical assembly and mounting system within a minimal aluminum frame finished in Anthracite, Rust or Silica.

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Top by Vibia

Composed of two concentric circles, the Top wall sconce by Barcelona-based studio Ramos Bassols is reminiscent of a bull’s eye — albeit one that emits a dreamy ambient glow. Tucked neatly behind...