Q & A with Marivi Calvo and Sandro Tothill for LZF Lamps
From their humble beginnings of designing lamps in Valencia, Spain, Sandro Tothill + Marivi Calvo, the co-founders of Lzf Lamps, have evolved into an international success story — receiving numerous awards and outfitting homes and businesses in over 20 countries — thanks to their handcrafted lights and artistic creativity.
I spoke with Calvo + Tothill to discuss their decision to use wood veneer as a medium and why they makes all of their designs by hand.
LZF produces lights made exclusively out of wood veneer. Why do you use wood veneer as your medium?
Marivi Calvo and Sandro Tothill: Its beginnings were almost accidental. A summer evening, a light table, and a whole bunch of very groovy reconstructed wood veneers. They were laid out on the table, it got dark, we switched on the light table and the spark occurred. The effect of the light through the veneers was spectacular. We decided they were the ideal diffuser. The warmth of the light, the highlighted backlit woodgrain — everything just went click!
All of your designs are made by hand. Why is it important to make them by hand, rather than by a machine?
C+T: Our product is handmade, and therefore imperfect, but in today’s industrial world there is almost an added value to something that is made by hand, by people, by real people. Incorporating a skilled technical team to our equation means we have been able to achieve an industrially backed craftsmanship that remains competitive with the more industrial design brands.
What are some locations where your lights have been installed?
C+T: Our lamps are quite versatile and have been used in various applications. A few that come to mind include: the Berlin Post central offices; a food court in Burj Khalifa, Dubai; the Prime Minister’s office in Singapore; the Sunstarr Suisse main offices in Zurich; and the Microsoft Headquarters in Bangalore, India.
Where do you search for design inspiration?
C+T: As Karl Blossfeldt once said, “Nature.”
What’s the one design rule you never break?
C+T: Never produce something that we don’t truly love ourselves. We wouldn’t be able to bear promoting it.