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Publication Date: 2018-08-14

Behind the Design

Studio Visit: Tightrope

Victoria Young of Brooklyn-based Tightrope talks about the inspiration and development behind the Rook Lamp and Kone Pendant, two wood lighting fixtures with contemporary character.

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Q: What inspired you to design the Kone and Rook lights? Which one did you design first?

A: The Kone and Rook lights were inspired by my first wood lamp design, the Blok light. After creating the Blok light, I thought about the other possibilities this shape had to offer. This is how I came up with the idea to flip it upside down and turn it into a beautiful and useful desk lamp, the Rook light. Once we brought a lathe into the workshop, a turned version of these wooden pendants seemed like the natural progression of the series.

Q: Can you briefly explain your process of designing or creating in general?

A: Hands-on designing is my favorite approach. At Tightrope, our material choice is very important, and we choose materials that speak to us and will last the test of time. When I'm designing with wood, I love showcasing the details of the wood itself. Wood is so organic and has such a variety of characteristics. I love playing with different shapes and angles to reveal the organic nature within the wood.

Q: What is your favorite feature or detail of the Kone and Rook lights? What makes them special?

A: The Kone lights display the wood grain in a way people don't normally see it. The turned nature of the light reveals a 360-degree view of how the wood grain changes. This is especially evident in the zebrawood variation with its contrasted lighter and darker rings. The Rook light features many of the different wood types we use in the workshop. This light not only provides great surface area light but also a view of the wood grain from two distinct angles.

Q: They really make a statement, so ideally, how and where do you imagine these pieces being used?

A: The Kone light is very versatile as a pendant light. A single pendant can serve as a unique bedside light, a trio will brighten up your kitchen island, and a canopy of six spiraling Kone lights makes for the perfect dining room chandelier. The Rook light is my favorite desk lamp — it perfectly shades the light away from the eyes and pools it onto the work surface. Ideal for writing, drawing, drafting, shelf lighting, or any other activity requiring surface lighting.

Q: Did you see a void in the marketplace, or did you design it for a particular project and realize that it had broader appeal?

A: There isn't much wood lighting in the design market, which surprises me mostly because it is a wonderful combination and juxtaposition. Light is both tangible and intangible; wood is both machined and organic. These two elements together are a fascinating blend of contradiction. I think those qualities resonate with our audience.

Q: How do the Kone and Rook lights coordinate with other items that you have designed?

A: The development and expansion of our wood lighting came very naturally. Our product line is very contemporary and almost minimalist in the way we showcase our materials. These lights coordinate well with our product line because they provide style, substance and personality. We strive to create design you don't see everyday, and I think our wood lighting is an excellent example of that.

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