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Structo Table Lamp by Curio Design

Structo Table Lamp by Curio Design. Photo courtesy of Rotem Gamliel.

Behind the Design:
A Q&A with Curio Design

Minimal materials meet maximal engineering─this California design studio innovates
lighting designs for everyday living.

Written by Nissa Hallquist

When a lighting company’s products are inspired by things like copy machines and scaffolding, you know their overall story has to be good. That is certainly the case for Curio Design, a lighting design firm in Oakland, California. We chatted with them recently to find out where they came from, where they’re going and the technological wonder that is the "light pipe."

In a nutshell, who is Curio Design?

Curio Design is at the cutting edge of lighting innovation and design, creating contemporary lighting products with a superior light distribution.

How’d you get started?

Co-founders Walter, Angelica and Naty shared a love for elegant design and innovation. Through their involvement with illumination for copier machines and panel backlighting, it dawned upon them that the same technology could be utilized for general lighting. The light pipe is the result of their vision, producing extremely uniform light and eliminating hot spots and multiple shadows, while also reducing glare. Curio Design aims to bring better illumination of homes and offices by introducing sophisticated and delightfully designed light fixtures incorporating light pipes.

“Form and function are complementary and together create the objects we want to interact with daily.”

Do you seek out designers, or do they come to you?

Both! There are a lot of talented designers and it is an inspiring process to find common ground with them.

How do you decide which projects to pursue?

The product pipeline is an organic process. Sometimes the spark is as simple as a thought: “How can this space benefit from better lighting?” Form and function are complementary and together create the objects we want to interact with daily. Inspiration comes in different forms and can strike anytime; we strive to keep our eyes open and imagine even greater possibilities for aesthetics and innovation.

Structo LED Table Lamp

The structure of Curio Design’s Structo Table Lamp was inspired by Hong Kong’s mix of low-tech and high-tech, meant to be deceptively simple but robust technology. Photos courtesy of Peter Kunz.

What was the design inspiration behind the Structo collection?

The concept for the Structo lamp was born when designer Naty Moskovich visited Hong Kong.

The liveliness of the city made an impression on him—not its fabled sky scrapers or futuristic scenery, but by the humblest of objects: temporary constructions, particularly “low-tech” scaffolding surrounding high-tech buildings. A sprawling metropolis such as Hong Kong is an embodiment of the modern pace of change, evolving space, constantly shifting scenarios and the fluid nature of our times. Hanging in the balance between the permanent and the temporary, a fascinating story is being told, if one only cares to listen.

Inspired by that backdrop, Structo is that narrative: a mix of the permanent and temporary, easy to construct and easy to take apart, deceptively simple in appearance achievable only through extensive creative effort and technology, an object both fleeting and enduring.

Tell us a bit about the Structo design process.

Three main principles were central to the Structo design:

  • Innovative Light: The use of light-guide optics results in a “light stick” that elicits childlike wonder and improves on the quality of light transmitted by LEDs.
  • Simplicity: The easiest, yet most elegant and sophisticated way of elevating the “light stick” to task-light height.
  • Equilibrium: Conjoining wood with the latest in LED and technology, the Structo embodies the balance of nature with humankind’s advancements.

The Structo lamp incorporates state-of-the-art light-guide optical technology adapted from the image scanner industry. The optics generate an extremely uniform light that eliminates hot spots and multiple shadows, while also reducing glare and providing dual illumination: 90% of the light is directed downward and 10% is emitted upward as diffused ambient light tinted with the lamp cover color.

It took a little over a year to take the Structo from concept to production.

Structo LED Floor Lamp

Just 4 components make up the Structo LED Floor Lamp: a Beech wood stem, two metal base arms and an adjustable "light pipe."

Your Hype collection has been very...well, hyped over the past year. When can we expect to see it?

The original vision for the Hype was a line of sleek minimalist lamps with a high degree of articulation and range of motion. The objectives were more challenging than expected, and we have had to go back to the drawing board several times. The Table and Clamp versions are expected to be available in the first part of 2017.

The flexible Hype pipe; floor and table lamp and pendant versions coming in 2017. Photo courtesy of Max Scholl.

The flexible Hype pipe; floor and table lamp and pendant versions coming in 2017. Photo courtesy of Max Scholl.

So you seem really keen on spindly forms with your LED lighting. Can we expect more variations on that in the future? Something completely different?

For the immediate future our new products will be using the light pipe as seen on the Structo lamps. The superior illumination from these light pipes lends itself well to a host of different applications. Stay tuned for the new product announcements!

Are there any plans to go beyond lighting?

Not at the moment! There are plenty of other interesting objects that we would love to pursue at Curio Design, however we see ample lighting projects that will keep us occupied in the near future.