VDF x Alcova From Lighting
From Lighting's Piazza lamp, a magnetic wall lamp that can be moved freely across its base panel

From Lighting combines cutting-edge technology with local production

Independent design brand From Lighting's founders Cesare Bizzotto and Tobias Nitsche discuss how the coronavirus pandemic could change lighting design in this interview as part of VDF's collaboration with Alcova.

From Lighting, a lighting design brand based in Germany and Italy, had an early warning of the impact the coronavirus would have on its business.

"Our local supplier informed us that the Chinese suppliers, who are normally incredibly responsive to messages, were suddenly not answering; flights to China were cancelled, and their factories were closed," the founders said.

VDF x Alcova From Lighting
From Lighting's steel Aspect lamp echoes the shape of a tripod

The studio, which works with a local network of industrial workshops in northern Italy, produces lamps that integrate cutting-edge technology and an ethical commitment to local manufacturing and collaborative teamwork.

The founders met when studying together and realised they were as interested in the production of their pieces as the design.

"We had a specific aesthetic in terms of design, materials, even graphic design, but equally an ethic of production that we wanted to achieve – and we were able to do so by taking advantage of the network of industrial workshops in the region around Cesare's hometown of Padova, northern Italy," From Lighting explained.

VDF x Alcova From Lighting
From Lighting works with local industrial workshops to create its products

While the lockdown in Italy affected the studio's business, it also created new opportunities, the founders said. "We had time to take on several business opportunities focused less on our products and more on our services – customisations, special orders, and product development for third parties."

"In fact, the results were so encouraging that, alongside our brand From Lighting, we are now creating a parallel structure fully dedicated to product development and production," the studio added.

Bizzotto and Nitsche believe that the shift to working from home will continue after the quarantine, and said this would have an impact on the lighting industry.

VDF x Alcova From Lighting
The portable Times lamp is recharged via USB cable and stays lit for up to seven hours

"Lighting has always been a crucial part of office design; lamps had to be functional and fulfil certain requirements in the shared workspace," the duo said. "But in a home office, the functional and aesthetic needs of lighting would be completely different; it would define an entirely new brief."

Fron Lighting was to have shown its pieces as part of Milan-based design platform Alcova's exhibition during this year's Salone del Mobile, which was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, Bizzotto and Nitsche are showing with Alcova at VDF and spoke about their work and the advantages of producing locally.

VDF x Alcova
Exhibitor:
From Lighting
Website: from.lighting
Email: info@from.lighting


Alcova:​ What were your ambitions in starting your own brand?

From Lighting: We began to collaborate as a design studio after studying together, and we quickly became interested in managing our own production as we were equally interested in design and making. We had a specific aesthetic in terms of design, materials, even graphic design, but equally an ethic of production that we wanted to achieve—and we were able to do so by taking advantage of the network of industrial workshops in the region around Cesare's hometown of Padova, northern Italy.

This accessibility to smaller-scale producers allowed us to build our company with lightness and flexibility. If you have to buy your own machine as a new company, for instance, a simple metal pipe bender, you will feel obligated to design objects with bent pipes, to use the machine at maximum capacity in order to recoup the investment. We outsource all of our production to local manufacturers who we know personally, so we can feel free in our designs while still ensuring a high standard of precision and care.

Alcova: What was the experience of the lockdown from the perspective of your company?

From Lighting: ​We had an early warning of what was to come when we were ramping up production in late January. The circuit board for one of the lamps, Times, is produced here in Italy but requires a small component that comes from China. Our local supplier informed us that the Chinese suppliers, who are normally incredibly responsive to messages, were suddenly not answering; flights to China were cancelled, and their factories were closed. The electronics supply chain was one of the first to break down, and the local industry was seriously worried while the public was still underestimating the scale of the crisis.

VDF x Alcova From Lighting
A raw version of the Aspect lamp in the workshop where it's made. Photo is by Daniel Delang

From Lighting: For the most part, we were very lucky not to be negatively impacted by the lockdown. Tobias lives in southern Germany, so we were already accustomed to collaborating through virtual channels. In the Veneto region, there were a few weeks where producers were among the few essential workers able to continue: it was quite a surreal experience to see the streets or highways completely empty. Later, when the sales venues and manufacturing sites were completely closed, we had time to take on several business opportunities focused less on our products and more on our services—customisations, special orders, and product development for third parties.

In fact, the results were so encouraging that, alongside our brand From Lighting, we are now creating a parallel structure fully dedicated to product development and production, which will increasingly be outsourced as a specialised task by larger corporations.

Alcova: ​How will the dynamic of global versus local change for industrial production due to the pandemic?

From Lighting: We have always seen great advantages in producing locally: our priority has never been to increase profits by allocating production according to the lowest international price, but instead to shorten supply chains as much as possible and work with our neighbours. This strategy had unexpected benefits in the past few months. We feel quite validated now that many societies have become painfully aware of certain material and logistical conditions of the industrialised world, and perhaps now have time to rethink them. In general, we think people will start caring more about their immediate surroundings, in terms of the design of their home interior as much as the socioeconomic life of their local community.

VDF x Alcova From Lighting
The studio's Abyss table lamp has a simple, graphic design

A​lcova: Do you predict any changes in user needs or design functions in the near future?

From Lighting​: For many people, the shift to working from home seems likely to endure past the quarantine. Some people found they were even more productive in a private, relaxed setting, and this change could definitely create demands for new kinds of objects. Lighting has always been a crucial part of office design; lamps had to be functional and fulfil certain requirements in the shared workspace. But in a home office, the functional and aesthetic needs of lighting would be completely different; it would define an entirely new brief.

In all of our lamps, the interaction between the user and the object is a key element: Times is a cable less lamp that can be carried around with the simplicity of a candle and dimmed by turning the head, while Piazza is a magnetic wall lamp that can be moved freely across its base panel and rotated 360º to direct the light. Our lamps combine intuitive gestures with the most up-to-date technology in order to have a positive presence in people's everyday environments, and contemporary life will always be one of our main sources of inspiration.


Virtual Design Festival is the world's first online design festival, taking place on Dezeen from 15 April to 10 July 2020.

Alcova is a Milan-based platform established by Italian practices Space Caviar and Studio Vedèt, which champions independent design through a programme of exhibitions. The team consists of
Valentina Ciuffi, Joseph Grima, Martina Muzi, Tamar Shafrir and Marco De Amicis.

The VDF x Alcova collaboration presents interviews with eight studios that were set to be featured at the platform's presentation during Salone del Mobile this year.