Their Flock of Light was an instant favourite of interior design-lovers all over the world. We spoke with Studio Toer about how they created Flock of Light, how they met, what drives them to create, and what other Design Dreams they have.
How did you two met?
We know each other from high school and we used to play in a band. After finishing high school, we both did different design studies. Because we continued to play music, we found each other again after our studies and teamed up forming a design studio. We already knew how to play music together so designing together wasn’t too difficult.
You designed your Flock of Light. Was it always the goal to make a suspended lighting fixture?
One way or the other, Flock of Light had to become a lighting object, but is started out as an art installation. It derived from a lot of different things. We wanted to portray swarms of fireflies and experimented with small lights. For the art installation, we used a small light stick with on both sides a small tail we could attach onto each other. For the art installation, we made the attachments invisible. This way you could really see the lights flow into the air, but for the Flock of Light we made the connections of the lights visible.
So, fireflies were the inspiration?
Yes fireflies, but also the outdoors, nature, and movement. We wanted to portray something with movement you can find in nature. Fireflies have fast and random movements. We were really drawn to create something that could have that random effect. A swarm of fireflies doesn’t fly in a symmetrical movement, rather their flight is very organic. Flock of Light is about showing that movement, but captured and stilled as if frozen in time.
What prompted the choice of colour in Flock of Light?
We started with the design by using copper and messing out of a practical standpoint. Copper conducts and that is what you need in a lighting fixture. We usually design from a technical aspect of the materials we use. What was really important to us, and something of a central standpoint, was to create a light installation with complex lighting points, to create a choreography of sorts.
Movement, like wind and light, are recurring themes in your work. Is that deliberate?
We are not really medium focused, but we like to work with light and wind because it is easy and fun to work with for us. We like to experiment. Like when you were younger, you used to play with different toys. We now like to play with different materials and mediums. Everything that comes onto our path, that we think is interesting, we try to work with.
Like the elements?
If you look outside, you see a lot of things move; you see the grass move into the wind; you see the leaves on the trees move, etc. If you look at nature, you see it moves constantly, you can read nature in that way. It’s something that you can really work with. We really like to take those movements found in nature inside and design products that can be used inside. Working with movement was something that came natural to us, not just because it’s so much fun, but also because we found it was not heavily represented in our field of work.
Your field of work, would you describe it as art or product design?
It is hard to choose or describe one field of work for what we do. Our work is very autonomous. Usually, our projects start in our own studio and we run into something we find fascinating. Then we wonder ‘how can we share this with our audience’. It could become a product, but it could also become an installation.
Do you feel you can reach a larger audience with an installation or product?
We think with an installation you can reach about a million people, and you can really surprise audiences. You would have to sell a lot of your products to reach the same audience. Then again, people are very selective with what they purchase, but when they do, you know they really bond with that design. A product is more personal. It is nice to design both and both reach people differently.
Flock of Light was introduced over a year ago. How did you experience the launch and the time after that?
Because of the pandemic, it felt like Flock of Light had a false start. Normally, introducing a design is a huge offline event, but the measures during that time prevented that. But, we’ve seen how well it does, despite having only an online launch. We enjoyed seeing that introducing a new design online can work. We also love seeing it in photos online of people having one hanging in their home, because it shows how diverse the lamp really is.
Did you have any preferred locations for Flock of Light?
During our studies, we wondered where products will end up. Because when you design it, and eventually it is produced, you don’t know how people will interpret the design and how they are to use it. So, it is always a surprise how and where our products end up. If it is above a dining table or perhaps outside in somebody’s garden. We would love to see Flock of Light become suitable for outdoors, back to its roots. It would be cool to see the lights in between trees or plants or under a porch.
Do you have any other wishes or design dreams?
We have a real urge to create at the moment and like to deep-dive into exploring new ways of designing. But we really hope to keep the freedom to explore and having that ongoing process in our projects. We get a kick out of reaching our goals or when something works out exactly as we hoped. But we can’t help but wonder what’s next. We’re always hungry for new things, the next step. We’re currently working on a project featuring bouncing balls and another exciting project together with Moooi.
Studio Toer’s Flock of Light is available in three sizes, 11, 21, and 31, referring to the number of light sources.