British design brand Astro Lighting designs and produces contemporary lighting for high-end hospitality, residential and commercial markets. In this interview, Founders John Fearon and James Bassant talk about the brand’s first-ever capsule collection of limited edition pieces launched this spring.
Twenty years ago, John Fearon and James Bassant founded the company Astro Lighting with the creative ethos that good design demands simplicity. This spring they’ve launched the Capsule Collection Volume 01 to highlight once again that ideology.
Created by James Bassant, co-founder and design director, and Riley Sanders, senior designer, the collection includes three products: the Orb, io Pendant and Halftone.
Inspired by the mechanical perfection of an orrery, the Orb light presents an illuminated spherical ball, with a fully adjustable and magnifying mirror that ‘orbits’ around the luminaire at its center. Primarily designed to be positioned alongside a bathroom mirror, the Orb provides useful task lighting with an appreciable sense of design and can be partnered with the single Orb light.
The io Pendant light takes inspiration from the fluted detailing of the ancient Greek ionic pillars. Using the unique production process of gravity-fed glass extrusion, the io Pendant takes a circular 2D design and extrudes the glass downwards to create a perfectly ribbed cylindrical form. According to Riley Sanders, the glass is the hero of the product and it allows light to subtly reflect and refract.
A fusion between art, technology and science, the Halftone wall light focuses on the simple form of a circle with an engaging etched pattern on a translucent, clear acrylic. Its subtle, gradient etched pattern begins from the edge of the disc and increases with intensity, creating a vivid ring of light. The transparency of the acrylic allows the wall to still be visible, both when the light is switched on or off.
ArchiExpo e-Magazine: Can you tell us the story behind the founding of Astro?
James Bassant: In 1997, John Fearon and I created Astro from my basement in Kent, England. We had a shared commitment to British lighting design and a passion for quality and precision that is still present 20 years on. Building a network of partners and following initial growth in the bathroom sector, Astro became the go-to brand for bathroom lighting with the largest range available anywhere for this most personal space. Our expansion into new design territories quickly followed, supplying timeless luminaires for high-end hospitality projects globally. Today, we have established teams in Italy, China, Singapore and the USA, with an 86,000 ft² HQ here in the UK. It’s our passion for design and an extensive network of international partners that ensures our business continues to flourish.
ArchiExpo e-Magazine: Can you talk about why you and your team chose certain materials for the three products and what benefits the materials bring to interiors?
James Bassant: Integrity and honesty of material choices are at the heart of this collection. The Orb is a glowing pure white glass sphere around which a mirror planet orbits, whilst Halftone is all about taking a single material of etched acrylic and elevating it to beauty by its surface treatment. The io Pendant is a length of molten glass extruded and cooled into an exquisite liner profile, so the clarity of the glass and refraction of light are the magic of the piece.
ArchiExpo e-Magazine: What complex engineering solutions were used to produce them? Any innovations involved you could talk about?
James Bassant: For Astro, the engineering of each product must be of the highest standard. The products need to operate effortlessly so one does not even consider the engineering solution that lies at the heart of it. However, often the simplest of designs require complex engineering. This is true with the Orb, where we refined each part of the design process to ensure the delicate moving parts were robust, but with a sense of lightness, masking a complex engineering solution behind its simplicity.
Riley Sanders: For the io Pendant, we removed all the unnecessary components, to keep it as minimal as possible and let the glass be the hero. Using the unique production process of gravity-fed glass extrusion, the io Pendant takes a circular 2D design and extrudes the glass downwards to create a perfectly ribbed cylindrical form. Halftone was inspired by a similar simple idea, utilising its material to create the effect of a glowing disk of light.