One look at the new Tetra light from POD Design (now available from ahaLife), and you know there's something afoot. The design might be simple, deceptively so, but there's something about its form that invites contemplation and further inspection. We talked to the brains behind it—Brooks Atwood, Assistant Professor of Industrial Design at NJIT and principal of POD Design—to get the inside scoop on what makes it so singular.
What was the inspiration for the light?
I think the balance between ‘craft’ and machined parts is very beautiful. It creates intrigue and mystery. I want to elevate the mundane into something magical. Traditional neon signs are everywhere. They seem to procreate like rabbits. Neon signs seem to have lost their own beauty because they are used for mundane announcements like “open” or “beer.” I love re-seeing what you take for granted all around you. Neon is so exciting because it’s mysterious and mundane at the same time. I want to take the ordinary desk light and transcend that function into one that has impact not through excess but through subtraction. It’s the ultimate minimum, the reduction to zero.
The form really challenges the idea of neon. The design takes the typical neon letters and reduces any excess until you get basic purity. The reduction becomes its essence. The reduction becomes the pure geometry. From every angle you view the lamp you’ll see a different geometrical form, glowing in white, natural light.
What were the technical challenges in creating this light?
Technically, the form was the biggest challenge. We went through hundreds of designs until we ended up with nothing; the absolute removal of all excess while also created unique geometries from every angle. We made so many wire prototypes our office looked like some sort of wild west tumbleweed cemetery. It was beyond difficult and we did a lot of hair pulling and throwing things, but we also did a lot of jumping and dancing when we discovered a potential solution. Reducing all the elements that you need and adding all the elements you want is extremely complicated. No pain, no design!
What are some of the applications for this light?
The light can be used in all kinds of places and spaces. It’s dimmable so you can really create a unique interior with a subtle white glow. I love the combination of vintage pieces with something like the Tetra light. It creates a really unique balance between the past and present that really brings a space alive.
Some applications are: desk lamp, dining room table centerpiece, atop an armoire, or on a bookcase. We even have some mounted on a wall at different angles. For those boundary pushers out there, you could decorate an entire space using the Tetra light in every possible way (almost like a Kama Sutra of neon).