Brooklyn's Stickbulb offers some serious creative freedom for designers.
You'll find plenty of beautiful lights when you step into Lightform in Gastown... but there's really only one product you can treat like an Erector Set. Grab one of the illuminated wooden rods jutting out of a Stickbulb light and pop it right out of its dock—or add another hub to the end to make the plug-and-play light reach and grow even further. The inventive design is the work of Stickbulb founders Christopher Beardsley and Russell Greenberg, whom Beardsley identifies, laughing, as "frustrated architects." Why frustrated? They've gotten (happily) sidetracked from structural projects and immersed in an illuminating field of lighting design instead. Not that product manufacturing doesn't have its upsides: "It's actually kind of nice to have an idea and actually make it," says Beardsley. "It's hard to design a building and hope someone hires you to build it." Five years ago, a client asked for a lighting design to be included as part of a housing proposal, so using offcuts from another prototype, they came up with the idea of a modular LED light system crafted from slim wood bars. Though the client ultimately didn't wind up moving forward with the proposal, the duo brought the lights to a furniture fair and wound up walking away with several orders. Architecture went on the back-burner in favour of this new opportunity: lighting design. The wood Stickbulb uses is either from sustainably farmed trees or reclaimed materials, like the redwood from old New York water towers. And though Stickbulb offers specific design configurations (from the Big Bang to the Double Bough) much of the product's appeal is the customization option. Starburst and diamond configurations are popular, as are long branch-like setups. Each rod connects wirelessly into a hub that sprouts a varied number of connectors: designers can play with connecting an endless number of spokes and hubs. "It's basically plug-and-play design," says Beardsley. "Sometimes I’ll run into designs I never even knew existed when I'm out in the city. It’s fun to run into something in the wild that you’ve made."