With a flick of a switch, mornings are illuminated and moods are set; with a flick off, days are completed. The importance of light’s presence is immediately recognized but seldom appreciated. LAMP, a Vancouver design competition, has set a simple goal: to shine a light on this essential element of our daily lives.
Established in 2013 as a lighting design exhibition, the organization has since expanded into a truly global competition with applications from 48 cities and 21 counties. Founders Annika Hagen and Nicole Fox bonded over what they recognized as a lack of multidisciplinary events in the city. “It could have been we didn’t see it because we didn’t know where to look for it, but we decided the concept was interesting to us and we thought we would try,” says Hagen.
Fox, with a background in dance, and Hagen, who comes from the film and writing industries, decided to pool their collective interests in design and work outside of their comfort zones, crossing platforms and creating connections. Their spirit of diversity extends to the submissions, as well. “With LAMP we wanted to make it open to all kinds of designers—we have architects, furniture designers, artists,” says Fox. “It’s really open to all.”
This year, the competition—which takes place at the Jan Kath showroom by donation from Nov. 13 to 15—has expanded to include multiple tiers, including student, emerging, and established designer categories. “Everything has been happening really organically,” Fox reflects. “It has its own voice and its own path. Turning it into a competition has opened up a window for us to see how much talent there is.”
Of the 90 submissions, the top 10 have been chosen within each category, and the ideas span an impressive range of function and form. In the established group, Portland-based Lynn Read’s hand-blown glass is stunning in its traditional material and expertly-executed craftsmanship. Meanwhile, Alex Josephson’s Gweilo represents another side of the spectrum, removing the most traditional element of lighting—the bulb—and replacing it with sheets of moulded LED light. The student and emerging categories also boast a wide range of entries including sleek, modern pendants.
Hagen and Fox have lined up some of the most acclaimed voices in design to choose a winner from each category (to be announced at the opening party at Jan Kath on Nov. 12), including Tom Dixon, Omer Arbel, Nancy Bendtsen, John Patkau, and the team at Andlight. When asked what they look for in a winning design, Fox and Hagen are modest. “With the calibre of judges we have this year, they made choices that we wouldn’t necessarily choose,” says Hagen. “It’s made us look back and learn more about design from that process.” It’s clear, however, that Hagen and Fox have developed an event that brings attention from the community to focus on one small but important element. LAMP celebrates the power of the medium. Clap on, clap off.