Furnishings: Hover Crafts

  • William Kissel

Brock Barrett’s lighting designs, which resemble origami figures, reveal the influence of eight years of living in Japan, where the former University of Southern California architecture student designed fashion and accessories before returning to Los Angeles to establish Satori Light Sculptures. His company’s name is Japanese for spiritual enlightenment, suggesting that this period in his life, part of which he spent living in a temple, did more than just influence his art. It may have altered his outlook on the world; at the very least, it provided him with a good name for his business.

Among Barrett’s partners at Satori, which he cofounded four years ago, is a former aircraft manufacturer. Drawing on that associate’s aircraft expertise, Barrett uses aerospace cables and hydraulic technologies in many of his works, all of which are free-form geometric shapes composed of Japanese washi papers, woven silks, and wood veneers that the designer fits over stainless steel frames. The designs convey the sense that the fixtures are hovering in space. “There is certainly an aerodynamics to our line, but also an Asian influence in terms of its Zen quality,” says Barrett. If a Zen quality is not immediately apparent, his first collection certainly bears a Zen-influenced name: Enlightenment. Barrett describes it as comprising “more ethereal shapes and forms without a lot of exposed metal.”

Barrett’s newest line, Kenchiku (architecture of the earth), represents a departure of sorts from his earliest collection. “My idea with Kenchiku was to do it the other way, from the East looking west, but with a bit more refinement,” explains Barrett. He classifies the line as “a kind of reverse Arts and Crafts/Mission style,” Mission being a Western concept influenced by Asian design. “It possesses a lot of the same characteristics as Arts and Crafts lighting,” he adds. “You see more exposed bar work, for instance, but it’s a lot lighter so it can fit into a modern or a traditional environment.” Pieces start at $500.

A custom installation, or “collaborative journey” with a homeowner, as Barrett likes to call it, can cost as much as $500,000. “Using different materials and shapes, the idea is for the lighting to relate and tell a story but not all be the same throughout the inside and outside of a home,” says Barrett. “Some people understand the impact of light in regard to architecture; you can shape and influence a space so much with light. It just happens to be light instead of concrete that we are working with.”

Asian design figures prominently in Brock Barrett’s light sculptures, including this piece from his Kenchiku collection.

Satori Light Sculptures
323.850.0790

Photo by Scott Williamson/ www.photodesignstudios.com; Automobile courtesy Boulevard Motorcar Company
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