From small, sculptural pieces to larger-than-life chandeliers, Adam Hoets is well versed in the art of lighting design. His company Willowlamp has numerous awards to its name, with lamps and chandeliers seen in some of the finest homes and hotels around the world – including a 12t creation that hangs in the lobby of the Crown Perth Hotel in Australia. Hoets graduated from the University of Cape Town as an architect and now lives and works in Cape Town. We sat down with him to chat about his lighting designs, process and inspiration.
Your designs straddle the line between lighting and art. Is it sometimes tricky to find a balance, where you don’t compromise one for the other?
That’s an interesting question and, strangely, not one I’ve ever been asked before. In my mind, art and design should always be considered as part of a larger whole. I like to imagine a world where even something as simple as a light switch is thought of as both art and design. Practical constraints do make this impossible, as-large scale manufacture is the only way to allow for an ‘economy of scale’ if the needs of the people are to be affordably met, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for beauty.
Lately, we’re seeing a move away from traditional industrial design towards smaller-scale, bespoke, hand-crafted designs because fewer people are able to identify with something that’s mass-produced. To me, it’s never a question of compromise: it is the duty of an artist and designer to live up to their vision. That is the purpose and value of beauty in society today – to inspire! To lift us out of the shackles of mundanity, mediocrity and sameness in favour of something bigger, of something so beautiful that it moves us.
You’ve said that you’re inspired by nature. How is this influence reflected in your works?
It depends… inspiration is everywhere. Sometimes a design can be literal translation of a form found in nature, such as the Faraway Tree series. Other times it’s an intellectual or abstract understanding of nature that generates a form, as seen in the Sacred Geometry range. But even if I am working on a design that’s quite literal, it’s never about emulating the form of something exactly but rather interpreting it as an artist would and then reflecting that back into the world. This process reveals something about the object that I find far more poetic and which cannot be achieved simply by copying. Evoking is a better word for what I’m trying to do.
Tell us a little bit about your creative process. After your initial sketches, how do you bring your creations to life?
Usually it starts with an idea or concept. I deliberately try not to look at other people’s work because this distorts my own vision. The idea or concept is then developed and played with using whatever tools are available to me. Sometimes sketching, sometimes using bits and pieces of found materials like wire and other industrial components, sometimes 3D wireframe computer drawings, and so on. This process can be extremely quick and the pieces just fall into place, or I can sit on an idea for years until the spark needed to make it work is revealed to me. Each design is unique and can take on a life of its own, leading the creative process down very different paths.
The chandeliers for the Crown Perth Hotel are an incredible accomplishment. What other projects are a personal highlight?
The Crown Perth Hotel was certainly the biggest and most challenging, but a recent installation project called the Enchanted Forest, which has just been completed for a house in London, was another major accomplishment. And now the 2018 collection! After completing these two massive installation projects, my mind has been freed up to focus entirely on new designs and this has led to somewhat of a creative renaissance for me: literally, 10 new designs and some of my best and most exciting, provocative and interesting work to date. The Link, the Halo and the Lotus Mandala are three that really stand out, but there are many others that are truly beautiful, and I am very proud to be launching them this month.
Visit willowlamp.com for more details.