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Behind The Design: A Q&A with Hubbardton Forge

Dahlia Chandelier by Hubbardton Forge

Behind The Design:
A Q&A with Hubbardton Forge

By merging inspired design with traditional techniques and the latest technology, Hubbardton Forge continues to create lighting that highlights artistry. Every piece is designed, engineered and crafted in Vermont by modern blacksmiths.

The tools of Hubbardton Forge’s trade are those of a bygone era—think anvils and blacksmithing hammers—but the brand’s lighting collection is designed very much for today. Hubbardton Forge’s signature is bridging contemporary style with traditional craft into a unique and elegant collection that feels at home in myriad spaces and styles.

One of Hubbardton Forge’s latest designs (available exclusively at Lumens) is the Dahlia Chandelier. Designer Paul Marr-Hilliard was inspired by an old image of a piece of forged jewelry created by iconic furniture designer Harry Bertoia.

The Dahlia, from inspiration to conception to final design. Designer Paul Marr-Hilliard was inspired by a piece of forged jewelry created by Harry Bertoia.

The Dahlia, from inspiration to conception to final design. Designer Paul Marr-Hilliard was inspired by a piece of forged jewelry created by Harry Bertoia. Top left: Photo courtesy of the Cranbrook Art Museum.

“The organic form of a leaf was repeated throughout the piece, and it really appealed to me,” Paul says. He began to experiment with that silhouette: curved metal coming from a central access, with the “petals” reflected from a central light source. The final result felt like a tribute to its namesake botanical beauty. “It is a simple repetition of form that becomes quite beautiful and sculptural.”

We caught up with Hubbardton Forge’s director of design David Kitts to hear more about how he creates modern elegance from careful craft.

What are the tenets of Hubbardton Forge design?

Our design team is made up of an eclectic mix of backgrounds from engineering, graphic design and architecture to sculpture, jewelry and metalsmithing. Although we may have very different backgrounds and design styles, we follow a simple guiding principle that has been in place at Hubbardton Forge for more than 40 years: design evolution without forgetting our heritage.

Why is it important that Hubbardton Forge products are handmade?

Our goal is to deliver heirloom quality, unique, timeless designs. We do not build to inventory. Each piece is handmade for you. From design, through engineering, production and customer service, there is someone at every step of the process who truly cares about the customer.

What does it mean to be a “modern blacksmith”?

Being a “modern blacksmith” means finding a balance between traditional and contemporary designs while utilizing both old-world blacksmithing techniques and modern technology. It means being innovative. Innovation does not stop past the design and engineering process. For us to be successful, innovation needs to be present at every corner of the company.

A craftsman for forges “petals” for the Dahlia Chandelier.

A craftsman for forges “petals” for the Dahlia Chandelier.

What does a Hubbardton Forge fixture go through, from design to production?

Having design, engineering, production, sales and a highly trained prototype team, all under one roof in Vermont, makes the design process here very special. The designer can come up with an idea and have a “metal sketch” within the day. By the next morning he or she can have feedback from production, engineering and sales and then it can be back for revisions by that afternoon. It is not uncommon to have five or more metal sketches/prototypes for any given design. This process allows us to make sure that the fixture is just right. It would not be the same if our factory was overseas.