A Sculptural Portal of Otherworldly Light Made from Three-Centuries-Old Redwood
For the fifth edition of Collective Design – held May 3-7, 2017 at Skylight Clarkson Square in New York – Stickbulb created an immersive, site-specific lighting installation that transported audiences to another place and time during NYCxDESIGN. Designed in collaboration with RUX, the founding creative team behind Stickbulb, Ambassador is a nod to John Steinbeck’s 1960s travelogue ‘Travels with Charley.’ Both a large-scale sculpture and optical illusion, it re-adapts 300-year-old redwood reclaimed from New York City water towers into a giant half-moon of ethereal light. The form and scale are intended to reflect the majesty and mystery of the world’s largest and most ancient trees. Moreover, the concept reveals the ecology-first design ethos and cerebral-artistic balance that are cornerstones of the Stickbulb brand.
Situated near the entrance of the fair, Ambassador beckoned visitors into the main gallery spaces. An 8-foot tall, self-supporting arc of light radiated from over 120 richly textured redwood beams salvaged from a demolished water tower at 200 Vesey Street in Manhattan – carbon dated to be three centuries old. Reflected by a mirrored base, the arc appeared as a 16-foot diameter circle hovering through the floor of the gallery. The size and circular shape of the sculpture was meant to evoke the grand scale of the redwood tree itself (the trunks of which sometimes grow to 30 feet in diameter) and echo the iconic circular drums of water towers from which the wood came. The work is part of an ongoing effort by RUX and Stickbulb to trace the “origin story” of each material used in their pieces, assigning it as much significance as form and function in the process of creation.
“A material does not exist in a vacuum. Provenance matters,” says RUX Founder and Stickbulb Co-Founder Russell Greenberg. “We want to make things of meaning from parts that themselves have meaning. Out of this genuine respect for material origin will come a softer, more sustainable, more poetic built environment.”
Once described by John Steinbeck as “ambassadors from another time,” only a small fraction of the noble redwoods still exist today. Though they originated from the Pacific coastal forests of Northern California and Oregon, some of these trees, also known as Sequoia Sempervirens, made their way to the East Coast, where they were considered an ideal material for water tower fabrication because of their ability to hold water and resist rot. After years of exposure to sun, wind, rain, and snow on one side and contact with water on the other, the material features unique colour banding that is full of character and strikingly beautiful. After considerable research and testing, Stickbulb has acquired a large supply of this stunning, old growth wood and now uses Water Tower Redwood in its collection of sleek, modern lighting fixtures and room-filling custom installations.
Stickbulb was co-founded in 2012 by Yale School of Architecture graduates Russell Greenberg and Christopher Beardsley as a way to combine their mutual love of architecture, modular systems, and sustainable manufacturing. Born from a pile of scrap wood, the original objective of Stickbulb was to “build with light,” which has since been fulfilled in collaborations with brands like Google, Facebook and Wholefoods as well as private commissions for hotels, offices and residences across the globe. Designed by RUX, Stickbulb LED fixtures are handcrafted in New York City from sleek wooden beams using reclaimed materials sourced from locally demolished buildings and sustainably managed forests. Stickbulb products range from small desk lamps to room-filling custom installations and can be found in a growing list of international showrooms.
Visit LightForm’s lighting showrooms in Vancouver, Toronto, Edmonton, and Calgary to see Stickbulb lighting collections in person.