We were proud to be a sponsor of WantedDesign’s Launch Pad this year. The Launch Pad at WantedDesign was full of awesome talent from around the world and the jury (which consisted of Katie Stamaris, Director of Product Development, Design Within Reach; David Trubridge; Jack Schreur, Chief Executive Officer, FLOS USA and myself) had a tough time deciding on the winners. This year, there were two winners: One in furniture/decor and one in lighting.
For lighting, we chose Luvere Studio, a Toronto-based studio co-founded by Joel Esposito and Oliver Welton, two guys with a passion for plants. After spending some time in Japan, their appreciation for plants and design blossomed. That, together with photographer Joel’s appreciation for art and light and Oliver’s knack for making and building, Luvere Studio was born. Through their hobbies as plant collectors living in an urban environment with little time to spend gardening outdoors, they realized that there was a growing need for a way to recreate natural light indoors. However, most grow lights are not designed to be displayed, and the duo wanted to create something with a high design aesthetic that could stand on its own, with or without a plant.
Their first collection of three pieces was born: The Monolith, The Plinth and The Mantis. They also collaborated with artist Alissa Coe on a series of vessels for plants to look beautiful but also dispose of the common drip tray, which can be a bit of an eyesore. A system was developed where water drips below the vessels into a closed system and evaporate through open channels at the side of the vessels. This also added a secondary benefit of increasing humidity around the plant. Ultimately the pieces came together not only to solve the problem of indoor gardening, but also create a beautiful piece of functional art for the home.
The Monolith and the Plinth act as a soft window light, made of steel, concrete and starfire glass. The Mantis is made of solid brass with accents of patinaed steel and a ceramic plate as a base. The Mantis has a high intensity light powerful enough to display a cactus and have it flower. We talked to co-founder Joel Esposito about their work:
What influences the forms you’re using in your work?
Our influences come mostly from our time spent living in Japan. The Japanese treat plants like living art, they are masters at integrating plants with surrounding environments and we were very affected by that. We’re also inspired by strong architectural forms and geometric shapes, forms that are in opposition to the fragile, uncontrolled, organic shape of the plants they house and the interplay between these elements and lighting.
Who is your ideal customer?
Our ideal customer is someone with discerning taste and a love of nature and design who wants something unique. Plants are everywhere, they’re in our homes, offices, and public spaces, so every space could benefit from having one of our fixtures. Many plant species have a lot of trouble growing well indoors and the missing factor is light. Our fixtures solve this problem and make it possible to grow a wider variety of plants in an indoor space. We create beautiful light fixtures that help plants grow and right now, as far we can see, there’s not much out there like what we’ve created. An ideal dream project would be an installation the size of a building in a public space; an airport, hotel, institutional or government building.
What kinds of materials are you using in your work and why?
We are inspired by industrial materials. We work with concrete, steel, glass and brass. We like the timelessness and strength that these materials bring. They develop and age with time, improving and in some cases tell a story of their own. We’ll be looking to expand on that with more unusual materials rarely seen with plants. I don’t want to give away any secrets yet but it’s going to be very cool, we’re very excited.
What were some of the challenges in creating your products and how did you overcome them?
One of our biggest challenges was finding LED lighting with full spectrum lighting to encourage blooms and plant growth that were also compact enough to fit into our designs. Usually grow lights give off a pink light which is very ugly when mixed in a space with artificial lighting. We really needed to find something that had enough power for plants but was also a flattering light to look at. We weren’t sure if what we had in mind even existed, but we were very lucky to work with a great company who helped us source what we needed.
Now that you’ve won WantedDesign Launch Pad, what do you plan on doing next?
We are really thrilled by our win and are still a little overwhelmed by the success of our products. Everything has happened so fast. We have new designs we’re excited to make and we are starting to think about creating large scale installations. We’re also looking forward to collaborating with some really exciting artists who we think will complement our vision. Everything has been so hectic in the lead up to WantedDesign that I think we just need a holiday. I’m thinking to take a trip somewhere warm, see some ruins with trees and plants growing out of them and call it an “educational trip”… and hopefully they’ll have a beach close by.
Thanks Joel, and best of luck to you and Oliver! See more at luverestudio.com.