WE TEND TO THINK OF TEXTURE AS SOMETHING TO BE EXPERIENCED TACTILELY —
THROUGH OUR SENSE OF TOUCH — BUT LIGHTING DESIGNERS AND ARCHITECTS LEARN
TO APPRECIATE HOW LIGHT CAN BE SHAPED AND MOLDED, CRAFTED AND ARRANGED.
Avner Ben Natan developed this understanding while working on films and television shows as a lighting designer. One of his partners at their design firm, Lightexture—which creates custom lighting fixtures and sconces—is Yael Erel, a Cooper Union-trained architect. Oh yeah, she also happens to be married to Avner, and they have a young son.
I loved talking with them, watching and listening as the creative forces bounced back and forth between them.
The third member of Lightexture's team is Sharan Elran, whose background in physics and software engineering is the foundation for the high-tech ceramic structures that give physical form to Lightexture’s product line.
Their work could be considered artisanal industrial design. The creative flights of fancy of these three collaborators take precedence over production efficiency or chasing a
mass-produced vibe. All their creations are small-batch handiworks that are made in their home-based workshop.
And yet, their catalog is full of sleek, modern design. Their lights recall the futurism
of the 1950s — there’s an echo of The Jetsons when perusing their portfolio — while embracing the possibilities of LED lighting and 3D printers.
As an architect—currently lecturing at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute—Yael appreciates Avner’s ability to shape light within a specific physical space, projecting
light in a way that adds texture and drama to a room. With a focused use of light,
space can almost be redesigned on the fly.
Both Yael and Avner depend on Sharan to create elegant lighting fixtures that also live up to their utilitarian responsibilities — physical pieces that not only shape the light, which is ultimately Lighttexture’s main ingredient, but are also safe and sturdy architectural elements when installed.
Yael explains that her inspirations for Lightexture’s designs are almost abstract, found-art flashes—for example, the moment when you notice that ray of sunlight reflecting off a car onto a nearby wall—moments that happen all the time, but generally go unnoticed in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. She wants Lightexture’s products to cause people to take a closer look at the things that are all around them.
With meditation and the “random inspiration” that often happens when focused on problem-solving, Avner often finds a similar kind of sudden clarity. (This would be the place to insert a “light bulb moment” joke!).
The target market for Lightexture is made up of interior designers, homeowners who are renovating, and any individuals, or businesses, that are looking to upgrade their lighting in a provocative, and innovative, way. Their work can be found in private homes as well as public places, including hotels, restaurants, and retail spaces.
As small business owners, they share some of the struggles of any manufacturer. Consistent access to electrical parts — their raw material — is one particular challenge. Small parts that are vital to their pieces might be discontinued by their manufacturers
or suffer from quality issues.
Although there is an artisanal element to Lightexture's work, they are, at the end of the day, manufacturers of a product line — one that is bold, innovative, and a joy to look at, both in and of itself, and in the area where it is utilized. Lightexture's art is designed
to quietly insinuate itself into your everyday moments.
I hope to get my hands on a few pieces soon - perhaps for our new home.