Find Out How Cerno Makes Their Handcrafted Volo Pendant

Cerno landed on our radar a decade ago and has remained one of our favorite brands to check out at design shows every year. Since those have been few and far between as of late, keeping up with their latest designs has been relegated to email, but at least we get to see what they’ve been up to! The Southern California-based lighting and manufacturing brand was founded in 2009 by childhood friends Nick Sheridan, Dan Wacholder, and Bret Englander, who came together and developed their unique, contemporary aesthetic. In person, you get a real sense of their attention to detail and the care they put into each design, which always has us intrigued. Not everyone gets to check out their work in person, so we’re delighted to share their latest design – the Volo Pendant – in this month’s Deconstruction. Giving us insight into Volo’s design and manufacturing process is Cerno’s Director of Design, Nick Sheridan.

Step 1 – Selecting 4×4 walnut boards for grain and straightness
There is a center disc that hides the light source inside of the circular shade of the Volo, which is made of solid wood. The first step is to select 4/4 solid wood checking the grain, color, and straightness.

Step 2 – Measuring the piece of walnut before cutting
I am looking along the piece of walnut to measure its length and strategizing how and where to use the grain of the wood. Analyzing the wood and its patterns allows us to create a beautiful finished product from start to finish.

Step 3 – Punching hole in leather suspension strap
The Volo is suspended using a full grain leather strap. Here I am punching an oblong hole in the center of the leather strap to allow the cord to pass though. The leather is offered in black brown and tan – pictured here is brown leather.

Step 4 – Creating the brushed finish on the spun aluminum shade
Here Mike is creating the brushed finish on the spun aluminum shade with an abrasive pad. The shade is available in a number of different finishes some of which require patina work on the aluminum that occurs at this step.

Step 5 – Drilling holes in the Volo spun aluminum shade
The suspension of the Volo utilizes a leather strap that is anchored to the fixture with 1/2″ diameter aluminum rod through the holes being drilled in this image. A drilled guide is used to locate these holes.

Step 6 – Applying the powder coat finish to the spun aluminum shade
Here Mike is applying the powder coating to the aluminum spun part prior to entering the powder coating oven. Both translucent and solid colors are offered as finishes on the spun shade and metal accent elements in the Volo design.

Step 7 – Imaging of the inner wood disc to measure and cut
We use a mixture of machinery, technology, and old-fashioned hands in order to create each fixture in our factory. The satisfaction of putting something together by hand is a feeling that never ceases to amaze.

Step 8 – CNC routing the Volo inner wood disc
Here the inner wood disc is routed out of solid walnut using one of our CNC wood routers. The circular shape is cut on the CNC router, and the rounded edge profile is later routed off on the router table one at a time.

Step 9 – Sanding the inner disc
There are few things more satisfying than sanding wood to expose the grain and being able to realize the final product in that moment. At Cerno, we are vertically integrated and thus each part of the process happens under this one roof. We use a pull system wherein each piece of a fixture is specifically used to reach the end product with minimal waste and no excess manufacturing.

Step 10 – Applying the oil finish to the solid walnut inner disc
The inner wood disc is sanded to remove all machining marks, with a final hand sanding of the rounded edge profile prior to applying the oil finish.
The transformation of adding the oil to raw wood is always a fun step to do- the wood just comes alive and shows its beauty and depth.

Step 11 – Applying the oil finish to the solid walnut inner disc pt. 2
The excess oil is wiped and the wood part is quickly buffed prior to letting the oil dry to create a durable and beautiful finish.

Step 12 – Final assembly – metal accent parts, leather, powder coated aluminum shade
All the parts come together in the final assembly. Both the light engine and the leather suspension strap are attached to the powder coated spun shade. The leather suspension buckle part is also added to the leather strap at this stage.

Step 13 – Final assembly – attaching inner wood disc
Here is the last step of securing the solid wood inner disc to the light engine. After this the fixture is hung and the light is tested prior to being packaged and shipped out.

Cerno Volo light pendant hanging

To learn more about Cerno’s Volo Pendant, visit

Caroline Williamson is Editor-in-Chief of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.