Building with Light
Founded in 2012 by two architects, RUX Design principal Russell Greenberg and Christopher Beardsley, Long Island City-based Stickbulb takes a Lincoln Log approach to lighting, building all of its extraordinary designs of out combinations of a single unit, known as the Stickbulb, a linear LED light encased in reclaimed or recycled wood.
We discussed the company’s origins with the two co-founders.
LightForm: Origin stories are a big part of Stickbulb. What’s yours?
Greenberg: We had a workshop that we did a lot of our prototyping [in], and we had this opportunity to design a light fixture for a foyer in a proposed building in Miami. There was a pile of scrap wood in the corner of the workshop. We looked at the scrap wood and we looked at our plans. And we looked at the scrap wood and we looked at our plans [again], and we thought, “hey, we could do something with the scrap wood!” The building never got built, but we ended up with this idea for a modular system of lights, which became Stickbulb.
LightForm: What turned playing with that into something you wanted to stick with?
Greenberg: It appealed to our architectural sensibility. We like modular systems, we like structural systems, we like playing with scale models. It also played into our desire to work with sustainable materials and reclaimed wood. It just checked all the boxes and made us happy.
Stickbulb designs create a unique aesthetic that combines sustainable materials with modern flair.
LightForm: Had you paid much attention to lighting before?
Beardsley: Not as an industry, although as people trained in architecture and [as] designers, we were aware of some of the classic designs, like the Artichoke lamp and the Sputnik lamp, really old tried-and-true classics.
LightForm: When you started getting serious about lighting, what discoveries did you make?
Greenberg: Because we’re not continually innovating new form factors, we have the benefit of being able to really dig in and optimize the Stickbulb itself, which is the universal component of all our designs. While it always looks the same, it’s always getting better. It’s all about simple tool paths, where we’re getting crisper, cleaner details, which the average person might not notice, but we obsess over; getting better efficiency out of our diodes; working to improve our connectors and metal hardware. We’re basically never satisfied.
Beardsley: We approach the process of assembly as a design problem in and of itself. We’re constantly refining the process by which they get assembled.
LightForm: What makes Stickbulb different?
Greenberg: We spend a lot of time sourcing wood from interesting locations that will inspire people to care about where things come from. Coming up with visual ways to elevate that story to the same level of importance as the geometry of our product, the efficiency of our product, how beautiful our product is, is a continual challenge. We’re really trying to make these very slender pieces of wood into a conversation piece. And for people who have these pieces in their house, they can say this comes from a water tower in New York City and it’s over 200 years old.
Reclaimed and recycled wood are essential components of Stickbulb’s innovative fixtures.
LightForm: What’s next for Stickbulb?
Greenberg: We’re getting to the point of making almost habitable architectural spaces. From table top lights that are just simple table lamps all the way up to these giant, room-filling installations. That excites us, and the scalability of it that is really a part of Stickbulb.
LightForm: It sounds like you’re working your way back to architecture through lighting.
Greenberg: Architects mess around with scale models all the time. It’s only at the end of the process you get the one-to-one. It feels like an architecture studio in a way. It scratches that itch I think.
Over a span of six years, Stickbulb has risen to prominence in the lighting industry. The brand is responsible for the creation of some of the more intriguing designs in recent memory – including the Metropolis Likes NYCx Design award-winning Bough collection, as well as the Boom suspension light, which took home the Red Dot Design award this past May.
To learn more about the creative collections from Stickbulb, connect with us, browse our website, or visit LightForm’s Vancouver or Toronto lighting showrooms to examine the inventive wood-crafted pieces in person!