Local designers strike a balance in LAMP's 2018 international lighting-design contest

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      The letters OVO may be most associated with Canadian rapper Drake’s record label and owl-festooned sportswear line—OVO Sound and October’s Very Own, respectively—but, in the name of local engineer Adrian Fisher’s submission to the latest instalment of LAMP (Lighting Architecture Movement Project), they embody the international lighting-design competition’s theme for 2018 perfectly: balance.

      “I tried to go as literal as possible,” Fisher says of his entry by phone, “everything from the name—a palindrome—right down to the materials.”

      OVO, a symmetrical lighting object shaped like a supersized Tylenol tablet and crafted primarily from concrete and silicone, is one of 10 finalists in the “established” category in this year’s LAMP. Like the o’s in its name, the piece itself is reminiscent of an ingredient found by the dozen in supermarkets around the world: the humble and ever-versatile egg. In fact, it was the clucking from a next-door neighbour’s chickens that inspired the designer to dream up the ovoid luminaire.

      “It was all kind of a funny coincidence,” notes Fisher, who worked as a mechanical-special-effects technician in the local film industry before diving into product development, “but it seemed to work out well.”

      Adrian Fisher

      In addition to its smooth, rounded form, the OVO stands upright like an egg thanks to its delicate and balanced construction. A dark, rigid cement base—cleverly strengthened with coconut fibre—is juxtaposed with a flexible silicone shade that scatters light from energy-efficient LEDs. Powdered egg shells were even fused into the silicone, creating a soft, frosted façade while demonstrating Fisher’s commitment to environmentally conscious design. “That’s always at the forefront [of my mind],” he says, “like, ‘Okay, how can we reduce the amount of materials we’re using? Or use more ecofriendly materials? Or how can we recycle this down the road?’ ”

      Mother Earth was also a key concern for Michel DuVernet, owner of B.C.’s Barn-Barn Designs, whose Orbital series is another finalist in LAMP’s “established” group for 2018. The Nelson-based builder wanted to pay tribute to his home in the Kootenays, where logging makes up a significant portion of the community’s economy, by employing regionally sourced wood. “I have access to a small mill that a friend owns,” he shares, “so some of it is stuff I’ve milled up myself, getting my hands dirty with local materials.”

      In the solid-wood version of Orbit, glue-laminated red cedar and sitka meet in a chandelier-mobile hybrid, its slender, curving arms meant to mimic blades of grass while the globular diffusers dripping from their ends are stand-ins for dew or droplets of water after a fresh rainstorm. A proprietary mechanism ensures that each part rotates with ease—both independently and in sync with the others as needed. “It actually works really well in a living space given the versatility of it—being able to move,” notes DuVernet. “So it really adds a nice, variable component; it’s not a static, fixed thing. Functionally, you can rotate the lights so that they’re mainly aimed at one spot.”

      Barn-Barn Designs

      Besides executing the balancing act that a functioning mobile requires—and melding a contemporary style with one that’s more organic—DuVernet sought to embody LAMP’s theme through a contrast of man-made metal and natural woods. There’s also a CNC–cut version of the Orbit that’s crafted from Québec maple plywood, as opposed to the more commonly imported Baltic or Russian varieties, and a floor-standing model dubbed the Floorbit that uses the same combination of elements—and that appears to defy gravity. “It was really about having a nice relationship with the materials and balancing through in that sense,” says DuVernet.

      Both the OVO and Orbital series will be on show at LAMP’s Balance Exhibition Awards Gala, the first of eight talks, installations, and soirées happening as part of IDS Vancouver’s off-site programming for 2018. The event will showcase lighting-design prototypes from 20 finalists in LAMP’s established and emerging categories. Vancouver is well represented in the latter category, too, with Ricardo Gomez’s sculptural Tilt and Romney Shipway’s scale-like Median in the top 10. Finalists in the student class will have their renderings published in LAMP’s printed program.

      Founded in Vancouver in 2013 as a group exhibition displaying light and form with an emphasis on architectural design, LAMP is a biennial contest that challenges designers, engineers, and other creatives around the world to build an original lighting object in keeping with a certain theme. This year's competition received more than 140 submissions from 85 countries.

      The LAMP Balance Exhibition Awards Gala takes place at Inform Contract (405 Railway Street) on Tuesday (September 18). Entry is open to those who purchase a wristband ($30) for IDS Vancouver's Offsite programs. See event listing for details.

      Follow Lucy Lau on Twitter @lucylau.