A Q&A with Ron Henderson

That age-old idea of trash-to-treasure takes on a life of its own with Varaluz's lighting designs. Founder and designer Ron Henderson has a committed to creating "super fun fixtures for you that are kind to good old Mother Earth." His latest, The Capsule collection (available only at Lumens!) sticks to that ethos, and is made using 70% recycled steel and 100% recycled glass. It’s also a pretty groovy design, inspired by the space-age memories of Henderson's youth. Here, he tells us a bit more behind the new collection and keeps him excited in design.

For the Capsule collection, what was the design process like from start to finish?
It started with the idea or a more-Atomic-era take on our Pinwheel cluster pendants. And it got a little carried away from there. Cocktails and requisite discussions of a highly personal and inappropriate nature may also have contributed.

What was the inspiration for the collection?
Space-age memories. I was lucky to be just old enough to remember watching the takeoff and subsequent lunar landing. I think I was 3 but it has stayed with me.

Capsule Chandelier by Ron Henderson

Capsule Chandelier by Ron Henderson for Varaluz

Did the vision for Capsule start with a single fixture or was it a complete collection from the start?
It was really the cluster of rocket shapes that I started with.

Capsule has a distinct nod to mid-century. Any mid-century designers you're particularly smitten with?
It’s hard to find fault with some of the more famous names like George Nelson, Eero Saainen, Ray and Charles Eames. I was also influenced heavily by Paul Rudolph, more of an Internationalism architect, who shared my alma mater. My Kappa Sigma fraternity house at Auburn was one of his earlier works which was very clearly mid-century (with a dose of post-modern). I was lucky enough to be a child at the tail end of the mid-centry-modern era so it was really prevalent (even though during most of my adult life our culture has tried to eradicate most of it sadly) in my formative years.

Outside of the obvious, any hidden messaging in the name Capsule?
It’s a clever play on drugs, vitamins, space exploration and time. And really, aren’t those captivating themes to work into a light fixture?

Which finish do you personally prefer and why? Chrome is expected (although the smoke glass may not be, but as a fan of the 60’s and 70’s it’s hard not to love it). But the Champagne (a mix of copper, gold and champagne tones) is gorgeous and bright and fun and warm. Chrome is reflective, implies modernity and overall techiness but it goes a bit cold. But I will probably find uses for both in my living spaces.

What is the overall inspiration behind your designs? Probably at our core, we celebrate the early 1900s American Craftsman movement (not to be confused with Craftsman or Bungalow style) in a modern way. That movement was sort of a retreat from stamped out machine-made consistency that was becoming the norm as the industrial revolution took over every industry. It represented a focus on the craft, handcrafting, using hand-made glass and hand-applied artistic, rich, layered finishes and, of course, hand-worked metals. It was less a certain design style (designs had Deco, Early American, Nouveau, Streamline and even Rococo influences) than more of an ethos. And then I warp it all with a little '60s-'70s mod sensibility (or as my therapist likes to call it, my childhood trauma).

What is the style of your own home and office space? The office ends up cluttered no matter what I do about it. On any given day there are 20-30 sketches or inspirational photos on the walls. And I have some giant Mike Wardle acrylics on one wall (Google him if you have a chance, he's an amazing Las Vegas artist). And spreadsheets galore..which may as well be art.

At home, it's very modern, clean and minimalist. There are a couple more Mike Wardle paintings throughout, although they are more intimate in scale. There are a couple of Fascination fixtures, a couple of vintage thrift-store/garage-sale finds updated with a modern glossy pearl finish and our Pinwheel pendant and semi-flushmount in the entry area. And our Shaken floor lamp in pearl has a position of honor in the bedroom. The guestroom is sort of a museum to extinct Varaluz fixtures with my most-favorite-ever-no-longer-available-sadly design, Envy. The furniture (all though there isn't enough of it yet) is all modern and low.

Any advice for lighting up a space? The design of your living or work space needs to be about you. Find what you love and make it work. If you fall in love with a pendant light that doesn't give a lot of useful light don't worry about it. Get it anyway. You can always affordably add other layers of light in a room to make up for it: table or floor lamps, cable/track lighting, can lighting, LED spots, etc.

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