Having worked on graphic, interior and product design for 12 years, self-taught designer Lo Yat-ming, founder of product design company NAP and co-founder of online shop Light With Shade, is making his mark with a vintage-inspired lighting range that puts a hi-tech twist to one of the interior design world’s hottest trends.
What got you started in lighting design? “I’ve always loved handmaking furniture and learnt basic crafting skills at a local industrial school, CMA Secondary School, in Shek Kip Mei. At first, I wanted to build tables and chairs, as well as design lighting. That required a warehouse to keep stock in and, as rents are prohibitive in Hong Kong, I gave up on the idea.”
Then what? “My (now) business partner, Stephanie To Wan-yi, who was a work colleague at the time, shared my idea of starting our own business. After doing some market research, we realised there is a worldwide demand for vintage-style lighting. We started sourcing high-quality lamp parts and light bulbs, designed the Edison lamp, and for the first year outsourced its manufacture to our supplier. After launching Light with Shade, we began assembling the lamps ourselves, piece by piece in our Hong Kong workshop.”
Tell us about the Edison lamp. “It’s an industrial-looking bulb teamed with a vintage-style cloth cord and elegant brass socket, which suits any raw, vintage and loft-home decoration. Our Edison lamp has been installed in restaurants worldwide, including Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen (Hong Kong).
“Design and architecture firms in the UK, France, the Netherlands and the United States have also used our Edison lamps in various residential projects.”
And now? “This year, after eight months of development, we crowd-funded production of our newly designed, etched-acrylic URI LED bulbs on Kickstarter. We’d set a target of HK$70,000, but over 30 days during August and September, raised HK$380,000. They’re made using hi-tech laser-cut machining and traditional mortise and tenon skills. The light source is reflected from the bottom to the transparent acrylic casing to form a remarkable lighting effect.
“URI bulbs come in five styles inspired by the solar system –Venus, Mars, Earth, Sun, Jupiter – and one by the ocean, Wave.”
What’s next from you?“For 2017, we have several plans. One is to develop an app that can dim the lamp and control the on/off function. Feedback from Kickstarter tells us that the backers want this option. We’re also working on a magnetic levitation feature – where the light bulb ‘floats’ above the surface of its casing, like a high-speed Maglev train does above the track. Let’s see how that goes ...
“We also hope to exhibit at Paris and Milan design fairs, and will enter international design competitions. We look forward to bringing our ‘made in Hong Kong’ lighting products to the world.”