I’m excited to welcome back writer Emerald Atkins for another of her excellent Artisan Profiles!
There are many lights in New York City, but perhaps the most unusual are created by Allison Patrick of Zipper 8 Lighting.
Although the core idea behind her designs is simple – the covering of plain lampshades or paper lanterns with repurposed materials – there is a playful wit at work there: quirky, modern, fun… and green.
Allison has always been a creative person and early on was influenced by a craft-loving family friend with whom she was “constantly creating things.” Over time she realized that what she truly loved was creativity within the physical world, which led to a degree in Architecture. Place, too, influences her work, as the “already built” nature of NYC limits the scope of creativity while focusing the latter into the elaboration of interior space, such as the transformation of “a simple white box of a room” into something personable and unique.
Part of that transformation rests in how a space is lit, and thus Zipper 8 Lighting was born. It is her current obsession. As she says: “Pretty much whenever I get a new idea or see a cool material or project my thoughts are immediately, could that be a light? I don’t know what it is about lights, but there’s just something so magical about turning on that light and seeing what you’ve created come to life.”
From a plain paper lantern or a plastic drum shade she takes the mundane and, by using repurposed materials, transforms it into a thing of unique beauty. Coffee filters, old books, maps, plastic bags, phonebooks, and the New York Times are only some of the items which would normally be headed for a landfill or recycling plant but have found new purpose and life in Allison’s hands.
“I love using materials in a new way,” she said, “a way they have never been used before. Sure the coffee filters that I use to create lights haven’t been used before, so they might not be traditionally considered as ‘recycled’ but I like to think that the traditional cycle of those coffee filters was to be used, and thrown away. Instead I stepped in and gave then a new and much longer function.”
She’s always been interested in the environment and has long believed that every small action towards preserving it counts. Replacing one light bulb with a CFL does make a difference, and she suspects that many people underestimate the potential impact of their seemingly insignificant daily choices. Any choice can be a positive one. Environmentally-friendly design can be as stylish and fun as any New Yorker (or anyone) could desire, and such is her goal: to make lights that are “green” without sacrificing design.
“I think its all about a general awareness of our surroundings,” she said. “Putting a little thought into our daily lives and the materials we so often consume and discard.”
Ms. Patrick’s work can be found online on Etsy under the name Zipper 8 Lighting.