CO:LAB artist and process statements

Artist Statement - Lineari Pendant Lights

The CO:LAB project has allowed us to expand and further develop our skills within our own craft practice, whilst providing valuable mentorship and insight into the design industry more broadly, as well as through partnering with Lighthouse Architecture and Science and their clients.

From the initial brief from Lighthouse and their clients, we explored the ways in which we could manipulate metal to provide both beautiful illumination of a space, but also a sculptural element that would be sensitive to the wide use of natural materials in the client’s home.

We developed a series of sculptural pendant lights in stainless steel and brass, titled Lineari Pendant Lights. Each light consists of a tubular metal form that casts a soft warm light though dynamic angular openings at each end. The tubular structure of the lights have been distorted and shaped to create lineal fluted lines that ripple like draped fabric or flowing water.

The making process we used for our pendant lights is an expansion on a hydraulic pressing technique we have developed. Guided intuitively by our hands, each pendant light is formed through a sequence of hydraulic pressing to create their fluid flowing lines. This individual forming means no two lights are ever alike and are in fact, impossible to replicate – resulting in truly distinctive one of a kind pieces that celebrate the distinctive nuances of form and finish. Once formed, we undertake a sophisticated finishing sequence that broadens the character of each piece, with patination creating the final step of distinctiveness.

The deep bronze finish of the brass forms, achieved through a patination process, allowed us to further deepen the warm glow of the light. By changing the saturation of the patination application we were able to adjust the depth of tone on the brass surface – highlighting the peaks and valleys. Stainless steel as a strong robust material, gave us the opportunity to create bolder striking forms through its bright silver-like colour, which is further accentuated by polishing peaks of the folds creating depth and shadow play. The forms of the lights create a bold, elegant sculptural statement that is only enhanced with their illumination.

Our choice to work with stainless and brass was in part due to its familiarity, strength, formability and ductility, and also because of the rich character in their raw finishes respectively – not needing industrial coatings to be successful objects. Using these materials in their natural forms, choosing only to hasten the natural aging of the brass with a patination treatment, folds back to the client’s choice of natural finishes as well as our own values regarding longevity of our work.

Artist Statement - Sheaoak Table Lamp

Our collaboration with fellow CO:LAB artist, Cathy Franzi was a wonderful addition to the project. Having progressed through the different phases of the project together, discovery, design and prototyping – it was a wonderful way to bring together the project and combine our separate craft disciplines and a chance to experiment with new processes. The combination of metal and ceramic has yielded a great result. The Sheoak Table Lamp consists of two truncated cones that read like the canopy and root system of the Sheoak itself, one light and one dark, above and below ground. The ceramic component illustrates the detail of the Sheoak through bright texture and subtle shadow while the patinated brass component has a dark lose expressive quality likened to branches swaying in the wind.

Project & Design Process

The CO:LAB project has been a valuable, rewarding and ambitious project that has given us unique opportunities to extend our craft practice into the realm of lighting. Divided into three key phases, the project spread out over much of the year. Phase one began with meeting with the team at Lighthouse Architecture and their client’s to understand the brief and perspective on the project. Through these discussions it emerged that natural forms and finishes would be valuable assets to the client’s new home – something that really complimented our individual craft practices.

As part of the initial stage, we also met with and visited interior designers, high-end lighting retail stores, lighting engineers, makers and studio workshops across Canberra and Sydney. An intense period, it gave us a broad and thorough overview of the many perspectives within the design industry and key things to consider through the design process. What emerged for us was a need to explore and showcase our skill as metalsmithing craft practitioners, where our processes and workmanship qualities should be highlighted, not hidden.

The second phase was the development of a reverse brief, to refine our initial ideas and present these to Lighthouse Architecture and their client’s. As crafts-based designer makers our brief was to; utilise the ability for lighting to transform a space, we believe handcrafted lighting should be equally successful as a sculptural piece when both on and off, as well as a functional for the space it is in.

We outlined our aim to celebrate the materiality, through the individual hand worked characteristics of the surface texture and patination of the metals we would work with, that would ultimately compliment the textures and tones the client’s have selected for their home – allowing the lights to elevate rather than dominate the space.

The third phase was one of prototyping and intense studio time to develop our final pieces. With complex tooling often required to execute our ideas, we largely work across cardboard models to refine our ideas before investing time and materials into metalforming.

Our prototypes and ideas presented were centred around an ambitious sleek form with the need for expansive and complex metal forming tooling. As we begun further developing this idea it became clear that it would be too ambitious for this project due to material sourcing constraints. In addition, this particular idea would only allow us to produce one single form and, upon reflection of our overarching aim, to celebrate the materiality, through the individual hand worked characteristics of the surface texture and patination of the metals we work with, it would also be at odds to the celebration of the nuances of handcrafted pieces.
Returning to the sculptural aspect of the lighting brief, we experimented with ways in which to manipulate the familiar tubular form as a pendant light. Taking cues from our continuing body of work, the Flow Form Vases, we further advanced our own metal tooling to allow us to achieve strong lineal lines through the elongated tubular forms. This process allowed us to celebrate the nuances of the handmade, with no two pendant lights ever able to be the same due to the individualised sequence of forming.

Our collaborative Sheaoak Table Lamp with Cathy Franzi was designed and made through phone calls, quick sketches, emails and post as we weren’t able to meet face to face. It was such a wonderful process to work with Cathy on. Overall the CO:LAB project and our experience was made much richer working alongside fellow artist Cathy Franzi across each phase of the project.

Thank you to CraftACT for this ambitious project, in particular to Rachel Coghlan and Kate Nixon for the development and initial stages of the project and to Meagan Jones and Madisyn Zabel for the later stages. Also, a warm thank you to the Circle of Friends donor circle, Jenny Edwards, Peta Furnell, Graham Humphries and Paul Kerr, whom without this project would not have been possible.