Ceramicist Frances Palmer has teamed up with lighting desginer, fabricator and longtime friend Chad Jacobs of Bone Simple Design to roll out a series of artisan lamps, titled Collaboration.
Developed out of their longstanding friendship and shared admiration for design and craft, each lamp in this new line is one-of-a-kind and completely handcrafted with ceramic bases made by Palmer and accompanying shades created by Jacobs.
Lamps from the Collaboration collection
Editor at Large interviewed with the duo about the new venture.
Editor at Large: How did this collaboration come about, whose idea was it?
Palmer: About three years ago I asked [Jacobs] to help me wire a lamp base that I had made for a client. We realized simultaneously that we were a perfect combination to design lamps together.
Jacobs: I've been a huge fan of Frances' work for many years and have been collecting her vases all that time. I really love the sculptural quality of her work, so when she asked me to wire the bases for her and make some simple shades I thought how wonderful it would be to push it a little further and make shades that really became an extension of the bases. I wanted them to be a complete work of art that just happens to be a lamp.
EAL: Why did you choose to do lamps?
CJ: I've been designing and making lighting fixtures for 20 years. I'm always looking for new materials to work with and new ideas and forms. At Bone Simple Design, we primarily make built in fixtures. We have made table lamps in the past, but this is not typically our focus. When Frances came to me about helping her with those first two lamps for her client it was like a light bulb going on, no pun intended. It just seemed so natural and obvious for us to do this collection. I was also extremely honored and excited to work with Frances.
EAL: What was your inspiration and vision for the collection?
FP: Chad and I initially discussed some lamp base shapes based on pots that I had already made. Then I began to do research and I was especially drawn to the designs that Alberto Giacometti made for Jean Michel Frank in the 1930's. I also looked at Cycladic and Korean ceramics, as well as Song Dynasty celadons. As Chad and I designed the lamps one at a time, we discussed them in terms of their own shape and material, as well as how they fit in with the other designs we had in the collection.
CJ: After our initial conversations about shapes, it just seemed obvious to start with the bases and have the rest of the fixture grow from there. I'm very familiar with Frances' work and trusted her completely, so the process sort of grew very organically. Frances would call and say I've got several more new bases for you! I would then set them out in my studio so I could live with them and start to formulate ideas about form, material, color, texture—all the things that make lighting so exciting for me.
This process really gave each of us the freedom to experiment and stretch ourselves creatively. I started keeping my eyes out for any new material and technique that I thought would add something special to the design. I also brought techniques that we've been developing over the years here at the studio, such as fringing, banding, striping, etc. I found some elastic banding at a trim shop one day and found that it was magic when stretched over a shade frame that I had designed for a particular base. I also started playing with different types of ropes and developed several ways to use them—wrapping, weaving, etc.
EAL: How long did it take from start to finish?
FP: It has taken us over two years to put together the collection. It has evolved slowly and with consideration. I have really enjoyed having the time to think about each piece and discuss with Chad his ideas for the shades with the base.
CJ: We just let the process evolve naturally. In looking back now, I think this was extremely important. It allowed each piece to have the time it needed to really be considered and developed.
EAL: Were you pleased with the final product?
FP: Yes, I am thrilled with our collaboration. I think that we will continue to design lamps and do new forms.
CJ: I couldn't be happier with what we've created. This collaboration has allowed me to stretch myself creatively in so many ways, and has also really enhanced the rest of my work in the process. I also think that because of how we allowed the process to develop so naturally it makes it possible for us to keep designing and growing the collection.
EAL: How was the process of working together?
FP: I have thoroughly enjoyed our collaboration. It is quite a different experience for me to make a pot that is a part of a whole piece and which is then given to another artist to complete. I appreciate how respectful Chad has been of the process and I look forward to our continued explorations.
CJ: Working with another artist has also been a new experience for me. Frances has been a joy to work with. I am so pleased with our collaboration and look forward to see what lies ahead. We've been discussing how to make a floor lamp. Exciting!