I recently had the privilege of traveling to the Frankfurt Light + Building exhibition in Germany and one of the highlights was viewing the new modern lighting collection, ‘Under’ by David Trubridge.
‘Under’ looks below the surface and under the sea, taking its inspiration from microscopic creatures called diatoms. As David Trubridge puts it, “Individually their size makes them seem insignificant, but en masse they are a vital part of the global environment.” Not only is David Trubridge celebrating the stunningly beautiful form of these microscopic creatures, but he is shedding light on their importance in the oceanic food chain and the integral part they play in providing oxygen.
I had the opportunity to talk with David Trubridge and learn more about the collection.
Jennie Oh: What are you exhibiting at Frankfurt Light+Building this year?
David Trubridge: Our show was called ‘Under’ which looked at microscopic water creatures called diatoms. There were four new designs plus a coral reef made up of a pile of Coral lights on the floor. Three of the new designs are derived from diatoms: Navicula, Formosa, and Asterola, all of which are scientific diatom names. The fourth new design is Pola which is a cooler counterpart to our existing hot Sola light. Diatoms generate more oxygen than all the tropical rainforests, supplying enough for our every fifth breath. So they are a vital part of life and also stunningly beautiful.
JO: How would you say these new offerings/designs compare to your well-known bestsellers?
DT: They all have our unique design identity in that they are made from patterns of repeating components, clipped together on-site for easy transport. In addition to our well-used bamboo plywood, we have introduced two new materials: cork sheet and a plastic felt made mostly from recycled water bottles. Navicula was enormously popular in Frankfurt.
JO: How important is the LED technology or lighting component?
DT: To be honest it is not so important. Of course, it is essential that we used LED for its energy efficiency. But this can, and usually is, just an E26 bulb. We are not a technical lighting company — what we sell is the emotional effect that the shade adds to a basic light source. This makes an enormous difference to the final cost of the unit. We get far more value out of a simple bulb in an amazing shade rather than using expensive LED technology.
JO: Are all of your designs inspired by the natural world?
DT: Yes they are. I love nature and am constantly energized and inspired by walking in amazing landscapes. So I long to bring some of this into the sterile gridded boxes of our urban environments. Moreover, it has actually been proven that exposure to nature makes us better and happier people, so I like to think that our designs can do a little of this too.
JO: What are your pressing concerns about our environment and what can we do as consumers?
DT: I am desperately worried about the degradation of the environment caused by our way of life. It can’t go on like this, especially the pollution of our fresh water and the dying oceans. As consumers we have to be much more responsible in what we buy and how we live, which mostly means learning to do with less. And as designers we have to be very careful about the materials we use and the processes we specify because it is we alone who are responsible for every aspect of our products.
JO: How do you find it being based in New Zealand and does it effect your visibility in comparison to the other major lighting brands?
DT: Our part of New Zealand is a wonderful place to live and work. We have a great work/life balance away from the pressures of big city life. But this does of course make it harder to make an impression in the wider world. I am prepared to forgo some of our growth and visibility for a better lifestyle. We just have to work harder and spend more on travel, but it helps a lot to have such great stories to tell.
Thank you David Trubridge for taking the time to talk with me! ‘Under’ will hit the U.S. modern lighting scene in 2017. Until then, check out the beautiful and current modern lighting assortment from David Trubridge Design.
The most difficult part of Jennie's role as Merchandise Manager for YLighting is deciding exactly which pendant she loves the most for her mid-century Oakland condo. When not making design decisions she and her 3 year old son compose songs to sing to the family's new baby.