Wästberg lighting: Beyond Neanderthal man 12.05.16

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Magnus Wästberg, the man behind the eponymous brand, believes that lamps must respond to our primeval instincts

The son of a lighting producer, Magnus Wästberg set up his eponymous brand in 2008 with a clear philosophy. “I wrote a manifesto: ‘lamps for Neanderthal man’. Light used to be about so much more than turning night into day. If you look back thousands of years, light – in the shape of a fire – kept us safe and warm, scared animals away, brought us together. For 300,000 years our DNA has not changed much, but our relationship to light has immensely. But maybe we forgot something along the way, which is deeply rooted in us: if you ask a person if they prefer a candlelit restaurant or an intensely lit office, most will say the former even though it’s not as functional.”

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Industrial Facility’s new w162 Dalston light

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Lindvall w124 copper pendant lamp by Jonas Lindvall

It’s hard to tell if our early ancestors would appreciate the minimalist “lamps for offices, hotels and caves” Wästberg produces today. USB charging points – three of which are built into Industrial Facility’s Busby, launched last year – don’t keep you warm, but their absence is certainly a constant modern anxiety, so they could be considered the 21st-century equivalent of the campfire we sought out and all huddled around to extract energy.

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Busby by Industrial Facility

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Dirk Winkel’s w127

“They are tools for efficiency as well as for ambience,” Wästberg explains of his references to the origins of lighting. On designing Busby, he comments: “We thought about the fact that a lamp today is an electronic product and how this could be used to create something that can make modern life easier and more enjoyable.”

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Studioilse’s w084 

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The w153 Île clamp light by French designer Inga Sempé

The brand, he says, puts well-being at the heart of its approach, working with a small pool of like-minded designers, all of whom prioritise process over aesthetics. As an example, he cites Jonas Lindvall’s w124. “We started out exploring how different materials influence the quality and feeling of light and noticed that the warmth, richness and depth of light was fantastic when we used copper as a reflector,” he says.

Both these lights, and others released this year – Inga Sempé’s playful clamp lamp Île, the colourful Extra Large Pendant by Claesson Koivisto Rune, Dirk Winkel’s task light Pal and Industrial Facility's warehouse-inspired Dalston – are designed for domestic and working environments, a theme that runs through the collection. About the future, Wästberg remains tight-lipped, but he assured us that they won’t stray far from his original vision.

 

Words

Debika Ray

 

Above: Extra Large Pendant by Claesson Koivisto Rune 

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They are tools for efficiency as well as for ambience

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The Swedish lighting brand’s founder Magnus Wästberg

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