“What started as a drinking club for designers in 2009 has turned into a series of annual exhibitions that showcase exciting new work” says organizer Joy Charbonneau, who also spearheaded the group’s award-winning shows Shiny Pretty Things, Associates, Tools, and Heavy Metal. The club gives members the opportunity to bounce ideas off of each other, participate in peer critique, share knowledge about cutting-edge technology, manufacturing, and material resources, and expand creative boundaries. For some club members in this year’s exhibit Light It Up, this was their first time designing a light; for others, a foray into LED experimentation or an introduction to CNC milling machine techniques. The results are as conceptual as they are visually arresting, exploring themes of hybridity, geometry, sustainabiliy, and sculpture. The illuminating works in Light It Up ignite the imagination, challenging preconceptions of what a light is and what it can be.

Plumb by Kump + Lo (image above). Creating Plumb allowed Sam Kump and Christian Lo to delve into how subtle changes can dramatically affect how we interpret and react to objects. “The general form is identical, only the method of hanging changes. Each exploration emotes a different connection to the object,” explains Kump. The various versions can recall a necklace, a shovel, or a curling rock, each telling a different visual story.

What were your aims for the project? We wanted to revisit the archetype of the object and create a “curious” fixture that challenges our perception and understanding of what the object can be. Curious objects that represent elements of ideology, sacredness, signs, symbols, mystery and science.

What were your inspirations? For this project it was a combination of pagan forms, ideologies and the idea of precision.

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Dodeca Light by Derek McLeod. McLeod’s large-scale geometric brass pendant is bright enough to act as a chandelier when switched on and striking enough to exist as a hanging sculpture when unlit. “The dodecahedron, is a fascinating shape since it completely changes its look depending on the viewing angle, so as you walk around it, it looks more like an asymmetrical ball or hexagon,” explains McLeod.

What are your thoughts on the shifting lighting technology from incandescent to LED? I am not convinced that the replacements for incandescent bulbs are at the level of light quality to fill the void yet. There are many applications where I think LEDs and other technologies are great ways to reduce energy use and achieve really nice lighting, it just seems the average residential user will be paying quite a bit more for inferior bulbs in the near future.

What’s your favourite luminescent object or light-giving phenomena? Seeing moonlight reflecting in water off a lake is a pretty great type of light. A laser pointer and a cat is also fun…

BrianRicherBlack marble with fluorescent tube by Brian Richer. Stripped of the clunky cord and plug, the light appears unpowered, giving the piece an animate power and agency. “The form of the sculpture’s base is a clear nod to 1960’s minimalist artists. In contrast with these modern references, the material from which the bases have been executed – marble – is closely tied to the history of figurative sculpture,” Richer explains.

What were your inspirations for Black marble with fluorescent tube? The inspiration was trying to distill an object to its basic elements.

Can you briefly describe the science behind how the bulb emits light without being powered? The marble base houses a circuit that safely stores an electric current within a magnetic field, which is then transferred into the fluorescent bulb. It will continue to emit light if lifted several inches away. The science is basically a modified tesla coil.

normalgoods_jube_prototypeJube by Normal Goods. This evocative enclosed pendant light creates “a pleasant atmosphere,” and has “a subtle presence on or off.” Charuk’s and Rojcik’s creation combines hybrid materials and a seamless form containing both shade and diffuser to sweet effect.

What were your inspirations? Broadly, we’re inspired by simple shapes and uncomplicated forms. Specifically to lighting we’re inspired by unassuming but efficient lighting systems.

What’s your favourite luminescent object or light-giving phenomena? Late summer, dusk.

The Opening Reception for Light It Up takes place on Friday Jan 24, from 6-10pm at Cooper Cole Gallery, 1161 Dundas Street West and features new lighting designs by Anthony Keeler, Bettie Cott, Brian Richer, Derek McLeod, Dieter Janssen, EEAA Design, Jordan Murphy and Tom Chung, Joy Charbonneau, Kump + Lo, Normal Goods, Rob Southcott, and Todd Falkowsky.

Exhibition hours:
Thursday, January 23, 1-7pm
Friday, January 24, 1-10pm
Saturday, January 25, 11am-7pm
Sunday, January 26, 11am-5pm

Brooke Lockyer’s reviews on contemporary culture have been published in numerous publications including Spacing, Toronto Life, and Geist.
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