Architect of his own Success: Hubbardton Forge Designer David Martin
Hubbardton Forge lighting designer David Martin approaches lighting design differently than most by considering design from an architect’s point of view.
Martin’s career path was probably predetermined. As a child, he liked doing things with his hands – building models and taking things apart to see how they work. His parents also provided good design genes with his mother an art teacher and his father a math/science teacher. “I think they were both influential, maybe not with my design aesthetics, but working with my hands and being creative,” he says.
It wasn’t a direct jump to Hubbardton Forge from college though. “I came to the Forge 10 years ago from an architectural design background,” he says. “I grew up in the area, so I knew Hubbardton Forge and when I was designing buildings, I spec’d them for clients so I knew the products.”
In more than the decade he’s been at the Forge he has not only come to know the products better, but he’s introduced many new designs. One of the popular designs he pioneered is the Flux. “It was our first use of bent light guides. It very much started with a 3-D form and we had no idea at first how to fit a light into it since it was such an organic, sculptural piece,” he recalls. Eventually, the light guide came to be. “It’s similar in vocabulary to the bent metal and provided the answer we were looking for.”
Martin cites steampunk as a favorite style. “I think steampunk fits my quirky sense of humor and goes well with my predilection for recycling or making new things out of the old.” The Otto Collection, a family of pendants and a sconce released this year definitely brings the steampunk heat with its combination of black finish paired with glass and brass. “We’d done brass in the past, probably dating back to before I joined, but it had been a while since a new design incorporated it,” says Martin. “The Otto was my response to steampunk with brass being a natural part of that.”
Martin designs in other styles that get a lot of attention as well. His Quill Pendant is an exploration of geometry. “I was looking at square tubing and the geometry of simple miter joints and started to think about how it could impact the overall structure.” He considered a traditional cascading pendant with five lights each hanging from their own cables and challenged himself to come up with a way to offer a similar look from one fixture. The result was a unique piece that allows for a lot of personalization for the customer. While the Quill’s customization potential was intentional, that wasn’t the case with another of his designs the Exos Double Shade Pendant. “I designed it to have the diffuser mounted one way, but I’ve come to accept that some people like to hang the diffuser ‘upside down’ and it looks good that way too.”
Martin says when he designs he tries to understand what the light and materials want to be. He points to Louis Kahn, a well-known architect who passed away decades ago as an inspiration for that philosophy. “He’d ‘ask’ a brick what it wanted to be and respected the answer it provided.”
Today, Martin’s brick is steel, glass and light.
With a history spanning more than four decades, Hubbardton Forge has built a reputation in the lighting industry and among designers and consumers for high quality and handcrafted artistry. With a team driven by design, the newest designs being created – from idea to finished fixture – are winning awards and accolades, but more importantly, they’re finding a place in the finely designed spaces of our customers. Best of all? All the magic happens under one roof in the Green Mountains of Vermont.