Leading ladies of lighting design
Anna Lindgren and Sofia Lagerquist of Front Design.
When Spanish designer Inma Bermudez was asked to create a lamp for Marset, she made it her mission to bring a feminine touch to a lighting company that previously only employed male designers. The result was FollowMe, a portable, rechargeable table lamp with a warm glow designed to replace candlelight. Bermudez was not the first to shake up the boy’s club with an award-winning product, and she certainly won’t be the last. While many are familiar with the talented men of lighting design like the Castiglioni brothers, there are several female designers who are increasingly stepping into the spotlight. While some, like Nika Zupanc, incorporate traditionally feminine motifs like flowers, dolls and feather-dusters into their politically-charged designs, others take a more gender neutral approach to their work. In any case, we can credit the world’s forward-thinking designers for spearheading equality in the industry. We’ve highlighted a few of the leading ladies of lighting design who continue to inspire innovation.
Manhattan-based Lindsey Adelman’s pathway into the world of lighting design was quite spontaneous. While working at the Smithsonian, she met a woman carving french fries out of form for an exhibition. Deciding it looked more fun than her editorial job, she enrolled in the Rhode Island School of Design. Fast forward 20 years and you’ll find Adelman exhibiting her works at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, Design Miami and Nilufar Gallery. Her iconic Agnes chandelier (above and below) perfectly reflects up her nature-inspired aesthetic and boundless imagination. She’s even started designing other products like jewellery and blankets, though her lights remain her signature.
The Knotty Bubbles chandelier designed by Lindsey Adelman
The world of wallpaper has forever changed thanks to the artistic touch of British designer Deborah Bowness. During her graduate studies in constructed textiles at the Royal College of Art in 1999, Bowness began to eschew the notion of the repetitive patterns of decades past. Instead, opting for playful and imaginative designs created from montages of her own photographs. Today Bowness’ silkscreen printed designs, including her lampshades for Innermost, have made history, leading her to collaborate with Reebok, Paul Smith and Selfridges. Her work is also featured in the print collections at the V&A, Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum and Musee des Arts Decoratifs.
Moscow Graffiti floor lamp, Laurie Grove small pendant, and the Bric-a-Brac large pendant by Deborah Bowness
Best known for her critically acclaimed Seed light which she designed for Roll & Hill (below), Bec Brittain brings her background in product design philosophy, and architecture to everything she creates. Her linear sense of form is evident in her airy yet geometric lights, which often showcase artistry using glass and metal. After all, Brittain launched her career designing door hardware, allowing her to explore her love of metalworking early on. Since opening her Brooklyn studio in 2011, she’s counted some of the world’s top designers and architects as her clients.
Bec Brittain’s Seed chandelier in brass
When Ionna Vautrin first fell in love with design at age six (while experimenting in a ceramics workshop), she probably didn’t foresee that she would end up working for some of Europe’s leading design firms. The Paris-based powerhouse worked with Camper in Spain, George J. Sowden in Italy, and Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec in France, before opening her own studio. Her ability to infuse elementary shapes with charming modernity has earned her countless accolades including the Grand Prize for Creation from the City of Paris for her Binic light, pictured above.Ionna explains the inspiration behind her Binic light
There was a notable applause from the international lighting design community when Corinna Warm launched her own brand, Warm, in 2007. After years of working with renowned contemporary designers including Shin and Tomoko Azumi, Isao Hosoe in Milan, Tom Dixon and LINLEY, Berlin-born Warm had decisively spread her wings. The Central Saint Martin’s graduate is often celebrated for her forward-thinking approach to designing versatile furniture and products – take one look at her classically spun aluminium Circus lights for Innermost, and you’ll see why.
Corinna Warm’s Circus pendants at the Muntpunt library in Brussels.
Telling stories through industrial design, Berlin-based Jette Scheib finds inspiration everywhere: in music, art, people and their fascinating habits. While fairly new to the lighting design scene, her thought-provoking pieces have already garnered worldwide attention for their sculptural appeal. After designing the Membrane light, featuring a smokey hand-blown glass body created by Czech Glass craftsmen, Scheib has been pegged as one to watch.A closer look at Scheib’s Membrane LED pendant for Innermost
Blending her interests in the arts, science and mathematics, Rosie Li has challenged the status quo of traditional lamp systems. Her success is not surprising, considering she was practically a child prodigy. After emigrating from China to the United States at age three, Li displayed an above-average aptitude for rendering animals through drawing and painting. Her natural talent, cultivated at the Rhode Island School of Design, led her to found Rosi Li Studio in Brooklyn and produce several noteworthy lighting fixtures, including one of our favourite wall sconces, Stella (above and below).
Rosie Li’s Stella Hexagon wall sconce
It’s hard to put a finger on the exact genius of Inma Bermudez, simply because the Valencia-based designer has done so much since she began her career working for German design studios like IDEA, BUSSE DESIGN and PRODESIGN. Over the years, she’s collaborated with IKEA, Spanish Porcelain Manufacture Lladró and the Vitra Design Museum, taking on the roles of programme coordinator, public relations, as well as assistant to designers Sigga Heimis and Jaime Hayón. Today, her studio focuses mainly on furniture, lighting design, and accessories, where Bermudez consistently brings a clever touch to her functional products. Case in point, FollowMe, the portable LED lantern she designed for Marset.Inma Bermudez reflects on FollowMe, a portable LED lamp she designed for Marset.
Creating an elegant lamp composed of a horse-shaped sculpture is no easy feat. Just ask the ladies of Front Design, a Swedish studio in demand for its experimental creations. With Anna Lindgren and Sofia Lagerquist at the helm, Front has brought a provocative edge to commissions for customers including Moroso, Porro, Moooi, FontanaArte, Established & Sons, Kvadrat, Stelton, and IKEA. The duo is celebrated for its experimental processes. For one project, they put a roll of wallpaper into a rat cage, letting the rodents gnaw to create a new design – talk about unconventional innovation.
The Rabbit Lamp, designed by Front for Moooi.
Tripod floor lamp, designed by Front for FontanaArte, was unveiled in 2017 at Euroluce in Milan.
One of Nika Zupanc’s favourite photographs is said to be an image from Playboy that depicts an all-male group of leading lighting designers from the 1960s. “This is the party Zupanc wants to crash,” wrote William Wiles in Icon magazine. With collaborations with Moooi (above and below), Sé, Moroso and Nodus under her belt, it’s safe to say Zupanc has accomplished her mission. Yet, the Slovenian designer continues to push the boundaries with her poetic products and installations. She, among many other contemporary female lighting designers, didn’t just crash the party – they became the life of it.
The Lolita table lamp designed by Nika Zupanc for Moooi.
Visit our lighting showrooms across the country to see more lighting design by talented women like the ones above, and more.