Today we are shining the spotlight on Melbourne based lighting company Satelight. Lead designer Duncan Ward formed the business in 1998. Since then it has grown as a successful local business designing and fitting out commercial and residential interiors both in Australia and overseas. Advocates of keeping Australian design local and respecting the art of handcrafted items, 80% of their work is made in Melbourne with the remainder being outsourced.
Satelight’s architectural lighting range spans various design genres, however a common theme running throughout their creations is the use of natural and / or recyclable materials. Sustainably grown mountain ash, plantation plywood, recycled PET, Echo Panel and if you wish even a hanging garden all channel references to nature and minimising their impact upon the environment. Satelight are so passionate about their lighting range, they go to the endth degree to ensure their designs are accessible to customers around the globe. Faced with the expense of sending six boxes overseas, they had a lightbulb moment. Instead they sent one box of disassembled lighting components, knocked up an instructional video for assembly, and voila – happy customer!.
Our philosophy is think small to make it big. Many of our clients want massive feature fittings, we do this by making smaller fittings that connect together to form a bigger design.
I spoke to Duncan Ward who shared further insight into Satelight’s design philosophy and he shares some tips on what to look for in smart sustainable lighting designs.
Who designs the Satelight range? Are all designs made in Australia or elsewhere? Satelight has always been a designer/makers studio, we love experimenting with new materials and developing our designs. Satelight has industrial designers and artists as part of our team and we also collaborate with other Australian designers. Our lead designer is Duncan Ward, who founded the company in 1998 and came from a fine arts background and has always had a hand in developing new designs for the collection. While about 80% of the fittings are still manufactured in Melbourne, we also import products and materials, largely due to the issues of local industry disappearing. Where we can, we source local and make local as it keeps valuable skills and industry here.
At State of Green we love sharing smart sustainable design. Which of your lighting range falls into this category? Satelight has the new Decibel pendant light, which was designed by our own Patrick Ford. The fitting joins our sound seed collection – Sinewave pendant. The fitting uses plantation plywood, Echo Panel and screws. The fitting requires no tooling, can be shipped flat packed where required and uses a 34 watt LED light disk. The design of the fitting enables the parts to be disassembled at the end of life and all of the panels can be recycled as they are made out of 100% PET (60% recycled).
Satelight has been working on reducing the waste from packaging as well, many of our fittings are packed in cardboard boxes without foam or wrapped in Brown craft paper. We recently did a project in Ottawa, Canada. The client wanted to use our Sinewave pendant, but could not justify the shipping costs. We compiled a a quick instructional video on the assembly method so they could be flat packed. This simple change meant that instead of sending 6 boxes which were 850 x 850 x 500mm in height, we sent one box 550 x 550 x 550mm. Our philosophy is think small to make it big. Many of our clients want massive feature fittings, we do this by making smaller fittings that connect together to form a bigger design.
What is your latest light design? What are its features? Our most recent fittings is the Hadron-w, which is a continuation of our Hadron Collection. This new wall fixture utilises Mountain ash a sustainably grown plantation timber armature which we mill in-house; the rolled ring is produced locally, here in Melbourne and houses a low voltage LED strip for the light source. The sleek, slim line design of the Hadron range makes it a cost effective solution for large projects as it can be packaged efficiently and used as a clustered fitting once again to make a larger feature design.
For customers looking for a sustainable and low energy lighting solution, what features do you recommend they look for? Most places are severely over lit, so a dimmable solution is always a great start. It allows you to tune the space in accordance with its’ use at a particular time. I lean towards LED as the light source of choice, as long as they are good quality and have longevity. Particularly with down lights, the best solution is to find ones which hold an MR16 LED lamp. These are usually retrofit into pre existing holders, which means they have to follow a standard. As they adhere to a standard they can connect into a usual lamp house, which means that you do not have to pull out all of your old fittings. Lamps which are COB, may have better longevity, but if they fail, you are looking to replace the complete unit, housing, glass, heat sink, just because a small $10 chip failed.
What has been your favourite lighting commission? We did a great project recently for Geelong Epworth hospital, which utilised our beautiful Crown and Monarch pendants. We customised a series of 7 large pendants up to 4 meters long x 2.7 meters in width. All of the fittings sat on the back of a ute and myself and Ben Merrilees the designer worked on the installation. The great thing about the design was that all of the blades used were Australian timber. We cut them all on our CNC and they could be easily transported to site. The blades all drop into place individually, which means that should one be damaged you don’t have to replace the whole fitting.
Where can potential customers view and buy your range? Our website is so full of information, that we always suggest that this is the first port of call. You can get the specs, CAD blocks and images of fittings installed. We also have a great team of experienced project managers who have intimate knowledge of the product to assist in choosing the right fitting for the project. We also have a small studio showroom in Spotswood, Melbourne which is open by appointment.
Lighting Design, Melbourne, Australia.