LZF is shining its light across the globe. By Stephen Lacey.
March 3rd, 2014
Above: LZF installation, New York
If you ever get to Valencia and are invited to a ‘high-fidelity’ dinner with Sandro Tothill, his wife and partner Marivi Calvo and their team from LZF, don’t pass it up. You’ll be wined and dined around a gargantuan table, enjoy flame cooked paella, guzzle local rioja, while listening to the groovy jazz chill-out music that LZF commissioned for their 2013 lighting collection.
You’ll also be sitting beneath the incredibly glamorous candelabro that Calvo designed as a centrepiece for such an occasion. Like many of LZF’s products it started out as a work of art, comprising 15 individual lamps and 10 ceramic humming birds.
It’s been a long journey for the duo who kicked off the company (originally as Luzifer) back in 1994. The first lamps were simple upright hand-painted wood tubes that Calvo, an artist, designed. The couple hired a stand at the Madrid Gift Fair to sell their wares and enjoyed their first big break when a buyer for a hotel project in Mallorca saw the lamps and ordered 700 units.
Nowadays LZF lamps appear in private homes and major buildings throughout the world, from the Sony Centre in Berlin, to the Metropol in Barcelona. Recently the company has been doing a lot of interesting projects in the USA, including Google Headquarters, Harvard University Library and Microsoft California.
The secret of LZF’s success is undoubtedly the use of quality veneers made from tulipwood (a type of poplar sourced from FSC forests in the Eastern USA). “I still believe that veneer is the best light diffusion material available,” says Tothill.
Every LZF lamp is designed in-house and assembled by hand at LZFs factory (an old winery) in the little village of Chiva on the outskirts of Valencia.
One of the company’s highlights last year was the Red Dot Award-Winning High-Fidelity campaign, drawing on Tothill’s background as a musician and Calvo’s background in fine arts. Inspired by 50s jazz and album graphics, the campaign saw the release of a CD with tracks composed by Rithma (Etienne Stehelin) and named after each of the lamps in the collection. Winning the award was a major coup, considering the competition included the likes of Audi, Coca Cola and Mercedes Benz.
A recent development is the option of remote control on/off/dimming, to do away with the complicated process of installing convoluted switches and wiring. This they call democratizing domotics.
As for the lights themselves, Tothill says he has favourites for different situations.
“I love the Poppy for the retro mid-century feel,” he says. “I love the Spiro for the beautiful speckled texture that’s created by the light coming through the wood. And the Cuad is an expression in aesthetic simplicity, pure elegance. But it’s hard to go past the Candelabro when it comes to sheer extravagance.”
As for the future, LZF will be launching their Funny Farm campaign at Milan in 2015 (you heard it here first). The collection will comprise 60s-style timber lamp bases produced from the stylised form of cute animals. Accompanying the lamps will be a range of 15 wooden animals that you can collect and display.
“We like to have some fun,” says Tothill. “Design can be so damn serious.”
LZF is available in Australia from Ke-Zu.
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