Andrew Neyer was near the end of a 12-hour drive from his home and studio in Cincinnati to the Javits Center for the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) when we reached him to talk about Stuff, his work, where it comes from, and hints at where it’s going.
LightForm: Do you remember the first time you really noticed a light?
Andrew Neyer: My grandparents had a lake house where they had a lamp that hung low over a side table. It was made from concentric circles of laminated cardboard, and the light barely shone through the corrugation. It was the first time that I really felt something that was unconventional. It had a pull chain, and I remember the sensation of touching the shade. We still have that light, in our kid’s bedroom.
The Yoyo Light Suspension has two spun aluminum shades come together to create a modern and playful fixture.
LightForm: Tell us about your breakout design, the Crane light.
Andrew Neyer: My wife and I were newly married and our house in Cincinatti was a 1930s Tudor, so there were no j-boxes in the ceiling and I wanted to have a pendant over the couch. I was too cheap to get in an electrician, so I thought about an articulated arm that could swing out. For that first light I used a cut-up extension cord as the tension member to complete the design. Designing it felt very much like the way you would draw an idea, a contour line drawing where your pen never leaves the paper. I liked the way the cord worked as a power supply, the tension member, and a visual way of breaking up the thing.
Simple yet functional, the Crane Light is able to swing left to right on a 180 degree plane. Designed with a cord tension cantilevered system, the fixture is unmatched in balance and function.
LightForm: Technically, do certain lighting components allow you greater freedom, or provide more inspiring limitations than others?
Andrew Neyer: The aesthetic part of the Crane light was actually driven by the lightbulb. I was at the hardware store getting something else, and there was this G40 bulb. I liked that it’s usually enclosed in something else, but I also loved how simple it was. And I didn’t want it to roll off the table, so I wrapped the base of the bulb in steel, and that little piece of steel became the basis for the entire Mobile collection. We try to manipulate most of the materials as little as possible, to make really simple pairings.
LightForm: How would you say the technical demands of lighting design compare to the other sorts of design you do?
Andrew Neyer: With lighting, the big obstacle is how do you hide the components that make it a fixture, whether it’s the wires or the lighting source. It’s really similar to how I design everything: How do I hide the piece that makes this work? You’ll often see some type of metal or plastic cap above a shade, but on our Dune light we wanted only the cord coming out the top, so we put the shade release on the bottom. If you’re seeing something, it should be part of the concept, not part of the magic that makes the fixture work.
Dune Light Suspension: the nesting mounds are available in three sizes to create sculptural landscapes when installed in groups.
Visit our Vancouver lighting showroom to see Andrew Neyer’s lighting on display.