decor, lighting

Switch on Concrete

Ryno De Wet, Elsa Young


Photo credit: Ryno De Wet

'The presence of light is what defines a space more than anything else,' begins August De Wet, winner in the Industrial Design category at the 2015/16 PPC Imaginarium Awards, which challenged creatives to craft incredible things from concrete. His winning work, dubbed BEAM, is a simple cylinder of concrete that makes use of carefully angled cavities to arrange the light that is set into the item’s hollow centre.

dewetworkshop August De Wet is pictured in his workshop where moulds of BEAM sit on the work bench. 'The big plastic cylinders are PVC pipes that I used to test the scale and proportions, and also what I used to cast test pieces in. ...I prefer building a model to check the scale rather than drawing it. It's all very handmade which I really enjoy.' Photo credit: Elsa Young

'I didn't want to simply stick a light onto a concrete thing, but rather wanted to illuminate the concrete and accentuate its qualities,' August explains.

'It is ultimately the interplay or tension between solid and void, positive and negative space, that makes the object compelling.'

'The hidden light source invites you to look into this negative space and feel the material with your eyes. It's kind of hypnotic (for me anyway). The result is an object that is strangely familiar (in its cylindrical form) yet new as a result of the void cut out of it.'

dewet_4 'I cast this prototype early on to test the idea and it's become a permanent fixture on my kitchen counter. It's 80mm x 220mm and I've taken the final form and proportions from this one. There's a real charm to the smaller scale.' Photo credit: Elsa Young

As a lighting designer, August is fascinated by light's influence on space.

'Very often you don't notice good lighting but you just seem to feel good in the space. It operates and affects us on a subliminal level,' he explains.

He believes that the best lighting is 'human-centric', meaning that it helps to improve your experience of a space, even influencing your mood.

'I get really excited when I see the little village pizza shop creating this amazing mood. Sometimes a candle-lit space just works. Satori in Linden, Joburg has two bare bulbs and a lot of candles and the mood is perfect. The smell of pizza and some acoustic guitar in the background add to the charm. But the new Tashas on Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton is quite incredible as well...,' he adds, giving examples of places that do lighting well.


Read about August's amazing small home in the HL March issue, on shelves 22 February 2016.