FROM LIGHTING / CESARE BIZZOTTO / TOBIAS NITSCHE
FROM LIGHTING is an independent lighting brand founded by Cesare Bizzotto and Tobias Nitsche. Working with a local network of industrial workshops in northern Italy, they produce their lamps with a keen eye for form and detail, a thoughtful integration of cutting-edge technology, and an ethical commitment to local manufacture and collaborative teamwork. As designers and entrepreneurs, they take an innovative and flexible approach towards business development, using their full range of acquired technical knowledge and creative insight to adapt to a quickly changing market for design goods and services.
What were your ambitions in starting your own brand?
We began to collaborate as a design studio after studying together, and we quickly became interested in managing our own production as we were equally interested in design and making. We had a specific aesthetic in terms of design, materials, even graphic design, but equally an ethic of production that we wanted to achieve—and we were able to do so by taking advantage of the network of industrial workshops in the region around Cesare’s hometown of Padova, northern Italy. This accessibility to smaller-scale producers allowed us to build our company with lightness and flexibility. If you have to buy your own machine as a new company, for instance, a simple metal pipe bender, you will feel obligated to design objects with bent pipes, to use the machine at maximum capacity in order to recoup the investment. We outsource all of our production to local manufacturers who we know personally, so we can feel free in our designs while still ensuring a high standard of precision and care.
What was the experience of the lockdown from the perspective of your company?
We had an early warning of what was to come when we were ramping up production in late January. The circuit board for one of the lamps, TIMES, is produced here in Italy but requires a small component that comes from China. Our local supplier informed us that the Chinese suppliers, who are normally incredibly responsive to messages, were suddenly not answering; flights to China were cancelled, and their factories were closed. The electronics supply chain was one of the first to break down, and the local industry was seriously worried while the public was still underestimating the scale of the crisis.
For the most part, we were very lucky not to be negatively impacted by the lockdown. Tobias lives in southern Germany, so we were already accustomed to collaborating through virtual channels. In the Veneto region, there were a few weeks where producers were among the few essential workers able to continue: it was quite a surreal experience to see the streets or highways completely empty. Later, when the sales venues and manufacturing sites were completely closed, we had time to take on several business opportunities focused less on our products and more on our services—customisations, special orders, and product development for third parties. In fact, the results were so encouraging that, alongside our brand FROM LIGHTING, we are now creating a parallel structure fully dedicated to product development and production, which will increasingly be outsourced as a specialised task by larger corporations.
How will the dynamic of global versus local change for industrial production due to the pandemic?
We have always seen great advantages in producing locally: our priority has never been to increase profits by allocating production according to the lowest international price, but instead to shorten supply chains as much as possible and work with our neighbours. This strategy had unexpected benefits in the past few months. We feel quite validated now that many societies have become painfully aware of certain material and logistical conditions of the industrialised world, and perhaps now have time to rethink them. In general, we think people will start caring more about their immediate surroundings, in terms of the design of their home interior as much as the socioeconomic life of their local community.
Do you predict any changes in user needs or design functions in the near future?
For many people, the shift to working from home seems likely to endure past the quarantine. Some people found they were even more productive in a private, relaxed setting, and this change could definitely create demands for new kinds of objects. Lighting has always been a crucial part of office design; lamps had to be functional and fulfil certain requirements in the shared workspace. But in a home office, the functional and aesthetic needs of lighting would be completely different; it would define an entirely new brief. In all of our lamps, the interaction between the user and the object is a key element: TIMES is a cable less lamp that can be carried around with the simplicity of a candle and dimmed by turning the head, while PIAZZA is a magnetic wall lamp that can be moved freely across its base panel and rotated 360º to direct the light. Our lamps combine intuitive gestures with the most up-to-date technology in order to have a positive presence in people’s everyday environments, and contemporary life will always be one of our main sources of inspiration.