It Starts with a Sketch: Bec Brittain Does Light

Brooklyn based designer Bec Brittain asks important questions of her lighting designs, like “what does this want to be?” and then expertly brings them to life.

Everyone loves a self-starter, and KNSTRCT loved getting a little insight light into this New Yorker’s entrepreneurial mind. With a strong background in philosophy, hardware and architecture, Brittain’s lighting designs are much more than sketches. There is a certain level of artistic intelligence in these intricate pieces that elevates them beyond the status of a regular household lamp. They are installations, innovations and inspirations as flicking a switch suddenly quickens you to double take. How did she create this?

Bec’s studio is based in Brooklyn where she works with a small, talented team. Everything is handmade from the studio and a team of trusted fabricators based in the city. Her debut piece, which was the first to come out of her new studio, was the SHY lamp which went on to receive widespread critical acclaim. Using brass and LED’s, this complex structure can be remodeled and reshaped, incorporating her engineering and architectural skills into the design.

Bec’s entire collection retains a certain element of consistency, where pieces could be presented alongside each other and offer complement and contrast. Each new wave of inventions are distinctly “Bec”, and her upcoming design series, “Seed”, has echoes of “Shy” and flirtations with her original design direction. Similar in the dynamic angle, elongation and obscure shapes, yet entirely different in its use of large bulbs that create a branch-like effect, where bulbs of artificial light somehow resemble sapling bulbs on a willowy tree.

Never failing to amaze in her constant self-revival and recreation, each addition to her repertoire builds on her existing brilliance. KNSTRCT catches up with Bec and her bright ideas.

K: Can you describe the path that led you to being a designer, specifically a lighting designer?

BB: My introduction to lighting design came through architecture and hardware. I worked in architecture, and then moved to high end hardware. I used my experience with structure and metalwork as Design Director at Lindsey Adelman studio. After three years there, and realizing how much I liked lighting, I started my own studio.

K: What are your favorite materials to design with? Why?

BB: Brass, glass, and stone are some of the materials we work with the most. I'm attracted to these materials because they have represented both luxury and elegance for decades. Working within these bounds is interesting to me; taking materials dense with history and connotations, and working them in new contexts.

K: Can you describe your creative process?

BB: I start with a sketch. Sometimes the idea comes from research I've been doing on a particular subject, or it comes from something current -- the genesis is always hard to place. From there it's about formal development and engineering. How can we make this work? What does it want to be?

K: What is next for Bec Brittain?

BB: We're working very hard at the moment on some new fixtures which we'll be premiering in the next year, continuing to play with light as a material, and specifically thinking about optics.