"I think that being a designer you have to be open, very empathetic. You want your designs to be welcome for everyone"
Since 2015, Anony, a play on anonymous, has been designing
technology forward lighting with a products-first approach.
We spoke with designer and partner Christian Lo about their unique ideals that form the backbone of their extraordinary designs.
What do you love about designing lighting?
I started out in home decor, so when I started to learn there was this whole school of lighting design - I got excited. Furniture presents itself as it is. Lighting can totally change a space, there are so many aspects to it. How it transitions, how it can dim, how it looks when it’s not on. Obviously it’s about function, but the sculptural side is really interesting.
How does Anony build different? What makes your fixtures special?
In the industry there is too often planned obsolescence. Especially when you’re working with LEDs. They are known to last 50,000 years, so people design thinking “Well, that’s the lifetime. When the bulb goes, time to get a new lamp.” And that’s heartbreaking. We design everything faceted, that means no glue. Which is why our products takes so long to develop the. Everything is mechanical fabrication, thus replaceable. The look of the product is seamless, so the consumer might not know that. But, you can change the bulb by unscrewing the light, you can replace a part, disassemble it to recycle it. That sustainability is really important to us.
"Since we stared it has been about the designs, not about the designer.. Our fixtures can take one-to-two years to design."
You’ve described Anony as having guiding ideals - how do those affect the design process?
We work with the guiding principles of sustainability and functionality. Since we started, it has been about the designs, not about the designer. We want to focus entirely on the product. So, that slows us down. Our fixtures can take one-to-two years to design. We release only about one light a year. Compare that with other lighting companies who may design eight a year. We commit to the process.
Next, we manufacture in Canada, locally, whenever possible. But that comes with some limitations and we have to really understand what those limitations are first before we start designing. This often means reverse engineering, from capacity.
How does that change your process?
We visit factories on a weekly basis and we see what the machines can do, what materials are available. You’ll notice that we source a lot of aluminium and steel, and that’s because those are recyclable and available from Canada.
"We design everything faceted, no glue, everything is mechanical fabrication... The look is seamless"
You were some of the first high-end lighting designers to integrate LED. How does technological innovation inform your work?
The longevity of LEDs is a big thing for us, the life cycle of a product was ideal for us when we started this company. We always have to be updating ourselves on the quality of LED. When it came out it was green, bright, it would flicker. But now, LEDs can do warm, lasting, comforting lights that match an incandescent, or even candle light. So, there can still be a bias against LED, but you can get really lovely light, the electronic components can be smaller, there is more flexibility in design.
How do you fight against that bias?
We select and send lightbulbs with our products. With LEDs you can buy the same temperature, say 3000k, and you could buy it from five different companies and they will all look quite different depending on the brand. So, we buy from 10-20 companies and test to make sure the bulb we send is true to the temperature, the best quality.
What’s exciting about an Anony fixture?
It’s really the interactive aspects. Because LEDs are low voltage, we are able to integrate touch in the products safely. So how can we play with the light? With Wisp we are playing with reflection - how to change it depending on the need, and by physically moving it. It’s using modern technology not in a low tech way, but so they can be used in an intuitive way. You don't need a remote, or an app, you just need to tap it. That's really exciting to me.
"With Wisp we are playing with reflection - how to change it depending on the need, and by physically moving it."
Have you found that your approach to designing has evolved?
Yeah, when I first started designing I thought about how lighting looks on, and how it looks off. Now, there are sensors, interactions, so much more to consider. You can think about colour changing, dimming. The technology has changed to allow so much more.
For example, variable light. For a custom project with Milky’s, a café, the light is on a cycle. In the morning it's very cool, it refreshes you. It matches the bright light from outside. And as the day goes on it warms up. It’s a comfortable transition. And it’s designed for zero glare.
Where do you go when you’re looking for inspiration?
I hang out at a cafe a lot. I like talking to the regulars, people who are outside my design bubble. I think that being a designer you have to be open, very empathetic. You aren’t designing for yourself, you always have to think of who you are designing for. You want your designs to be welcome for everyone.
What do you like about working with CASSON
They were one of the first distributors in Canada to carry us. When they first approached us, I just loved what they were doing. In our industry, it’s very rare to see other women, especially in industrial or architectural spaces. I’m so happy CASSON took a chance on us.
More about some of our favourites from Anony
We asked Christian about the story and details from some of our favourite Anony designs. From secret matte powder coats, to seamless construction, read on for the details that make Anony so special.
Wisp Suspension Light
"We wanted the light to be interactive, not just in a way where it can be touched - all three surfaces can be tapped to change the dim level - but also, the shade can move up and down the cable which changes the way the light reflects, and the levels of diffusion.
You can use it as a table lamp, or a floor lamp, it refuses to fall in one category. We designed this light with residential spaces in mind - to avoid any glare, so there is a soft comfortable light from any angle.
By projecting light from the base it causes a warm, almost a glow, that illuminates the shade. It’s a very magical light."
"Highwire is our most flexible light. We designed it for pure need. For condos, with junction boxes that aren’t designed to be over your dining table. The Highwire is one of the flexible lights, it doesn’t matter where your junction box is. You can place it wherever you want.
The body is designed to be smooth, there are no screws, so people think it’s glued, but the whole lid is a twisted lock which comes apart and the layers of diffusion just come out. You can recycle every part of acrylic in there."