These days, Manhattan’s outer boroughs—and especially Brooklyn—are ground zero for innovative modern lighting design. It started percolating about a decade ago, with the opening of concept stores like The Future Perfect and Matter in Brooklyn; in the intervening time, designers have swarmed to the borough, drawn by more-affordable rents, larger studio spaces, a sense of creative community, and, for many, the ability to manufacture one’s products in-house. Other companies have found their homes in other less-discovered corners of New York City, such as Long Island City, Queens. As the buying local/American-made movement has taken off, so too have many New York designers’ careers. Here’s your guide to the design scene’s movers and shakers.
Founded by Jason Miller in 2001, the Brooklyn-based lighting company Roll & Hill is renowned for its cadre of top-tier independent designers, as well as its large decorative hanging lights, eye-catchers that make a room. Witness its now-iconic series of Superordinate Antler Chandeliers and newer releases like the sculptural Stella Triangle —functional artwork for your wall.
The three founders of Rich Brilliant Willing —Theo Richardson, Charles Brill, and Alexander Williams—design and handcraft every one of their lights, which are notable for their simple-but-striking forms; minimal use of materials; and their seamless integration of the latest LED technology (warm, dimmable bulbs that mimic incandescent, for example). The company’s range is remarkable—but we’re especially smitten with the cocoon-like Mori pendants, made from a liquid polymer that’s spray-coated over a metal frame.
Rachel Simon, founder of Brooklyn-based Lights Up, started out as a lampshade maker before deciding to add her own bases and fittings. The company has since gained a following for its simple, streamlined forms and high-quality, wide-ranging shades. You can outfit your entire house here; they offer everything from flush-mounted ceiling lights to floor lamps to pendants and much, much more.
Stickbulb, the creation of interdisciplinary New York City architectural and product design firm RUX, is a modular light system. At the heart of every Stickbulb fixture is a sleek, LED-illuminated wooden “stick,” measuring one to six feet in length, which can plug into various steel hardware connectors to form different shapes and lighting typologies. Starting with these basic ingredients, the options are vast.
In 2011, Jean and Oliver Pelle, both trained as architects, founded Pelle in an early 20th-century building in Red Hook. Today the husband-and-wife duo turns out handsome, cutting-edge light fixtures that have earned the young company acclaim, such as the vastly customizable metal-and-glass-globe Bubble Chandeliers. Their waterfront neighborhood teems with other craftspeople, an ongoing source of inspiration and motivation for the Pelles: “It is a vibrant community of makers and entrepreneurs that is truly inspiring. Brooklyn right now is a breeding ground of new talent. It’s very exciting.”
Carolyn is a Merchandiser for YLighting. Having grown up around the construction industry, and being a huge design enthusiast, it was only natural that Carolyn found herself in the home design field. When she’s not hard at work, you can often find Carolyn outdoors enjoying a long hike with her boys, soaking up the sun on the beach, or perfecting her newest move in a yoga sesh.