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How an old-fashioned brown café inspired the 'PHOENIX' lighting collection

It is a question any designer will frequently be asked: where do you get your inspiration from? Sometimes the source of inspiration is hard to pinpoint. But for our ‘Phoenix’ lighting collection, the answer to that question is quite easy, designers Vera Meijwaard and Steven Visser explain.

'As designers, we regularly travel the country visiting suppliers and manufacturers, often finding ourselves in cities and villages we have never been to before. Around noon, feeling peckish, we will start looking for a bite to eat. And inevitably, we will end up in a café, ‘grand’ or otherwise. Some of them still have the archetypal Dutch ‘brown café’ interior—dark, cozy and atmospheric, with Thonet-style chairs and striking, marbled glass pendant lighting. We would be sitting there, looking up at those beautiful old lamps—a true ‘light-bulb moment’ (yes, pun intended).

'The calcedonio glass-making technique—adding oxides to glass for a marbled effect, resembling semiprecious chalcedony—was first used in Egypt during Roman times, and was re-discovered in Murano in the fifteenth century, by Angelo Barovier, arguably Murano’s greatest glassmaker. With changing fashions, this intricate technique almost got lost again, until it was revived in de mid-1800s by another Murano master, Lorenzo Radi. We took our inspiration to Italy and together with a family of Italian artisans, embarked on a process of trial and error in order to achieve the subtle, ton-sur-ton veining we were looking for. Through the ages, this glassblowing family had never discarded any of their wooden and metal moulds. We delved into their storeroom and started stacking different shapes into totem-like structures. The individually blown glass elements are interconnected with steel rings, which were given a bronze powder-coating. The resulting collection has the elegant, clean lines that bring this ancient technique bang up to date.'


More about Phoenix                       More about Studio Visser & Meijwaard

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Visser & Meijwaard

Visser & Meijwaard is the design studio of Steven Visser (1985) and Vera Meijwaard (1988) in Arnhem, The Netherlands, both of whom graduated from ArtEZ in product design.

They are ambitious, talented and have an interesting way of seeing the beauty in sometimes utterly mundane objects. An immense Berlage-esque cabinet was inspired by the unassuming lines of a simple grey plastic crate. And their strikingly beautiful Bombé screen for Linteloo harks back to none-too-interesting garden chair cushions. They are able to see aesthetics where none were intended, retrieve them, enlarge them and turn them into something quite extraordinary.

Visser & Meijwaard’s work ranges from interior to conceptual design, and from presentation to set design. Their versatility and unique outlook is quickly gaining them international acclaim.

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