mb! Magazine met Bec Brittain, a newcomer in New York’s design scene to talk about her work, her challanges and obsessions. When you see Bec’s geometric lighting fixtures suspended in her lofty Red Hook studio in Brooklyn, you may think simplicity is easy, but every screw secures a precise angle, conflating all the pieces to a perfect scientific shape. It is the chaos that fascinates her and that she is trying to make order of, in an attempt to crystalize her visions. As in life, she maintains that design is about deciding what matters and what doesn’t. The best advice Bec ever received from a friend and fellow designer Piet Houtenbos was to ‘pick one thing and stick with it’.
Bec took off a sunny Friday afternoon go for a walk through the neighborhood, showing her favorite places of inspiration.
What do you enjoy about working with light?
When you turn on a light there is a magical transition. You don’t get this reaction in the same way with a chair. I like this moment of ‘ta-da’.
Your biggest challenge?
To do things that are unexpected. If we look at a chandelier for example, there are certain things we expect, like a wire coming down. The point where technology combined with lighting is getting really exciting is how the electricity is being transmitted. I am not talking about crazy light shows because I don’t think that’s what we want to live with at the end of the day. I’d much rather use these new technologies to create something that is beautiful and makes you wonder about little things, like how the light is getting power for example, because you cannot see a chord.
Are you someone who could spend hours obsessing over one thing?
I can fixate on a screw head in a way that I don’t think is helpful to me or the appreciation of the design. So I just let it go. Having spent my twenties being very serious, thinking that everything needed to have a purpose and a function, I feel I need to focus more on making something pretty.
This might sound a bit contrived but I figured that even if I make something beautiful there will always be thought behind it. The reason why I love working with lighting is because it is sculpture with a whole field of tech behind it that I can geek out about and soothe both sides of my brain.
How do you go about figuring out what project you want to do next?
Well, a couple of years ago I wrote down all the projects I wanted to do because I was worried there wasn’t enough time to do them all. One thing on my list was “crystals”. When a friend of mine, Piet Houtenbos, looked at it, he said, “just pick one, like crystals. You could do that for ten years”. And all of a sudden I realized that he was absolutely right.
In what way are crystals related to your lighting design?
Their shapes are beautiful and you can strip them down to bare geometry. Looking at groupings of them they appear to be very complex but when you study the crystal formation there is a very clear lattice as to how they are put together which is very simple. Where they get complicated is in their proliferation. I get excited about them because they are inorganic yet they are growing. For me crystals provide an endless subject matter to pull inspiration from.
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