Bec Brittain is a New York based lighting and product designer. Her simply geometric lighting is driven by a love of luxurious materials, intuitive forms and forward-thinking technology. She loves the moment of “ta-da” when she turn on the light and the point where technology combined with lighting.
She feels she needs to focus more on making something pretty but every screw secures a precise angle, conflating all the pieces to a perfect scientific shape.
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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What are you currently working on?
I started putting together a model for a new piece using parachute fabric. Watching parachute tests in a Mars Rover documentary seriously inspired me. So I thought why not do something with these silky shapes that are mathematical and precise at the same time. You know, sometimes I feel I am “too architectural” and there is this girly part inside me that wants to get a bit “softer”.
Something you would like to do but are scared of?
Whiskey or wine?
Pyjamas or nightgown?
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
What’s your favorite planet?
I am feeling pretty bad for Pluto these days, since he’s not a planet anymore but just a spinning rock.
Today Bec continues to explore and experiment with new techniques and materials, pushing the boundaries of American-made, centerpiece lighting design. She has been featured in numerous publications such as The New York Times, Elle DÉCOR, Case Da Abitare, and Wallpaper magazine and having clients all over the world.