A Q&A with Levi Wilson,
Co-Founder and Head of Design, Hammerton Studio
What do you think makes Hammerton designs different from others?
It’s a combination of bold design, beautiful scale & proportion and meticulous detail. The guiding fabrication principle at Hammerton is my "10-inch rule,” meaning that each fixture that leaves our Salt Lake City facility must be able to withstand a discerning eye from less than a foot away. We take enormous pride in crafting lights that look beautiful from any distance.
Where do you find inspiration?
Art, architecture, fashion, culture, and the natural world. We're unmistakably an American brand, but our sphere of inspirational influence is global. I travel a lot!
Hammerton Studio’s Bamboo Collection pairs impeccable metal work with sparkling-smooth columns of glass, each of which is hand-formed and crafted by artisans in the USA.
What’s important to you in lighting design?
1) Perfect scale and proportion. It’s an inherently critical, yet often overlooked element of design. Not only does it apply to fixture design, but also to how a fixture fits in its intended space. 2) Balancing aesthetics and function—why sacrifice one for the other? This was a key motivator behind our Hammerton Studio brand—promoting functional solutions that can extend beautiful design throughout the home without breaking the budget. And, 3) having an element of surprise or delight, however bold or subtle it may be.
Do you have a particular style/aesthetic yourself? How does that play into your work?
The Hammerton brand got its initial foothold in the early 1990s by serving the booming second home market in Park City, Utah, and other mountain resort communities in the west. At that time, our "style" was driven by the enormous demand for boldly designed, beefy steel fixtures that leaned toward a rustic or organic mountain look. Today, the majority of our business leans towards transitional and contemporary styles and incorporates an extensive palette of materials, including lots of glass and textiles. We were the first lighting manufacturer to incorporate woven steel mesh into our designs nearly a decade ago and we've seen that business explode. Mesh, particularly finely woven mesh, is a very tough material to fabricate in and few do it well.
Smooth steel bands encircle the Tempest Collection, whose signature is smooth, steel bands encircling the light source inside.
How do you design alongside changes in the lighting industry?
We keep our ear to the ground and our eyes wide open. Our problem has always leaned in the direction of too many—rather than too few—design ideas. That's one reason we do a lot of custom work.
What design "mistakes" make you cringe? Getting scale and proportion wrong, which is a pretty common mistake we see on both ends of the industry.
What does your own studio or home look like? Somewhat eclectic; more of a reflection of the evolution of my design sensibility over 2+ decades rather than a snapshot of any particular era or style.
Do you have a favorite Hammerton Studio fixture? Any of the Uptown and Downtown Mesh fixtures. They're simply styled and incredibly versatile, yet fascinating to look at. Mesh has both a strength and a softness that's wonderfully appealing.