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A Q&A with Bover

Born from a simple napkin sketch, Bover is now celebrating 20 years in lighting design.
Founder Joana Bover tells us more about what’s new and how it all came to be.

Written by Sarah Schaale

Celebrating 20 years of lighting design this year, Bover has become one of the most well-known European design brands, renowned for designs that bridge a timeless simplicity with avant garde modernism. Founder Joana Bover launched the brand two decades ago with a napkin sketch of a light fixture that she quickly drew up for an architect friend she was dining with. Today, Bover boasts a full collection of lighting designs, all made and produced by hand in Spain and bringing surprise and delight to indoor and outdoor spaces all over the globe.

Bover’s latest, the Dome LED Pendant designed by Benedetta Tagliabue, was designed to commemorate the 20-year milestone. The shape and shadow effects were inspired by the domes of a cathedral, with hundreds [of] intricate pieces of beechwood that create shadow play on the surface below. The light source is placed at the top, making the design reminiscent of the sun shining through a cathedral ceiling.

We caught up with founder Joana Bover to learn more about how they are celebrating two decades of design and where it all started.

The Dome Pendant is a signature piece to mark Bover’s 20th anniversary. Tell us more about it.

Sometimes life presents you with a gift. The Domes for [designer Benedetta Tagliabue] and for me were just that: a gift that has helped us realize that people can sometimes work in a different way. Enjoying what we do and laughing at our mistakes to start all over again without laziness or frustration. Dressing up our imagination with fantasy, sharing thoughts, talking and laughing, drawing. Letting ourselves go until we find the way; that ever-so-fine thread that gradually guides us and turns our project into a product.

I like the Domes because for me they're a different way of understanding my day-to-day work at Bover. Making beautiful things, different things, and being happy in the creative process is a true gift of life.

Dome LED Pendant by Bover

Unlit, the Dome LED Pendant is a stunning, sculptural piece. When lit, the LED light shines through the beechwood fragments to create intricate shadow play on the surface below.

In 20 years of Bover, what has changed? What has stayed the same?

I think everything has changed around us.

The markets we work in every day and the technologies that affect our products have totally and utterly changed. We're no longer the same, without giving up anything of what we were and what brought us here, though, but we need to pay special attention to the Bover brand without losing our identity.

In general, Bover products have a common denominator that characterizes them; they are products made by hand, individually and in a traditional way. Prime examples are our Outdoor or Dome collections, products that industry professionals identify with the Bover brand.

You’re based in Barcelona. What are some of your favorite places there? Any design destinations you'd recommend?

I'm lucky to have been born in a city that oozes design in its streets and plazas. The natural light in Barcelona is very important; we like bright colors and we need to see the blue of the sea on a regular basis.

My favorite place in Barcelona is the Eixample, the so-called Quadrat d'Or. I never get tired of strolling along the streets of this central neighborhood; I love looking at the beautiful houses there, the shops, the simple bars with their quaint terraces that take advantage of any corner to put out four chairs and a parasol. Barcelona is a city of small details that always surprise us and make life more beautiful for all of us. You only have to look at a sign or a doorway.

Bover founder Joana Bover

Bover founder Joana Bover.

Do you have a favorite Bover design? We won’t tell the others!

My favorite design probably is an old paper light with a lovely phrase from Lluís Porqueras: "Those of us who live near the Mediterranean know all the nuances of light. For this reason, when night comes, we transform it into little spacelets of day.”

What does your own home look like?

My home is my favorite spot and is also base camp for my daughters, so we've all left a bit of ourselves there. It's very airy and very cheerful, full of plants and flowers.

I love pinning photos to the walls and I frequently change the duvet covers and tablecloths. I like to have glasses and dishes for different occasions, as I really enjoy having friends, family or workmates over for dinner. My house is open to my life and is always available. It has no particular style; it's simply a reflection of our lives. Not all the lamps are Bover; I've got the odd one from Vibia and Metalarte.