Vancouver-based designer Calen Knauf was given the following constraints in a class during design school: create something using aircraft ply, that incorporates tension into its construction, and flat-packs into an envelope. Using the old-time-y balsa-wood airplane kits as muse, he created the Flight lamp, a nifty fixture that is easily assembled from a simple series of component parts.
However, the prototype’s quarter-inch timber-dowel legs left it slightly top-heavy and off-balanced by the weight of the cable. “I saw the lamp having a far more refined aesthetic language and the bare wood gave it a tinker-toy, kitschy feel,” Knauf says. “When I made the first prototype I had a small window to refine it, which meant I didn’t get a lot of time to sit back and think about the finishes and details.” Since freed from looming deadlines, he revisited the concept and set out to upgrade the component parts.
Metal legs solved the equilibrium issue. Another important element was the color scheme. Knauf saw his chosen combo of black stain and brass as a bit “serious,” and wanted an additional hue duo to complement the darker model. Inspiration came to him on a bike ride through Gastown, in the form of a fashionable young gal sporting an outfit of copper, tan, and mint. “I stopped right there and decided that those were the other colors I had to do,” he says.
Though a spot of polish will maintain the legs’ mirror finish, the brass will begin to oxidize in about a year, adding a nice depth and new dimension to the exterior; the copper, however, won’t go fully green for almost 15 years. Too impatient to wait for the chromatic evolution? “If you wash it with horse urine—yes, horse urine—it will turn a lot faster,” Knauf says. “Any urine will work, but I’ve heard that horse urine is the most effective.” Noted.