The history of LZF Lamps began in 1995 in Valencia almost by chance. The idea of producing lighting from sheets of wood came into being when the company’s founders Mariví Calvo (born in Valencia in 1960) and Sandro Tothill (Brisbane, 1966) were using this material to make some collages.
Soon after, there was an exhibition at the Trapazi theatre in Valencia which showcased 247 lamps – which Mariví calls artefacts – created by the most talented Spanish graphic designers of the time. So successful was the event that, in its wake, a montage was created in the city centre to sale the lamps.
After this, the business – which was initially called Luzifer and which had its own premises and a group of regular collaborators – was established.
The company’s first important international client, KE-ZU, an Australian importer of design, still in existence today, made it possible for LZF to take part in design fairs. LZF currently has a staff of 20 and a presence in practically every country in the world.
In 2001, the business began to investigate the use of a new material Polywood®, which it later patented. After that, the company focused on using this type of wooden sheet to make its diffusers, while always using environmentally friendly manufacturing processes.
In 2003, graphic designer and illustrator Isidro Ferrer designed the company’s current logo. In 2008, in order to give the brand greater cohesion, the company changed its name to the snappier monicker LZF, and relocated to new premises in Chiva, on the outskirts of Valencia. Another milestone was the launch, in the same year, of its collection Light and Nature, at the city’s Cuidad de las Artes y las Ciencias (City of Arts and Sciences), which garnered heaps of international press.
As for the designs, the ones which stood out the most involved the collaboration of two of the company’s most high-profile designers: Spain’s Miguel Herranz, starting in 1997, and Irish-born Ray Power, beginning in 1998. Herranz created such iconic pieces as the Hola pendant light (designed in 1997), Margarita (also 1997), Mikado (which won the Design Plus Prize in Frankfurt in 2008) and Ánfora (2008), while Power designed the lights Alhambra (2000), Link (which scooped the Design Plus Prize in Frankfurt in 2006) and Air (Good Design Prize in Chicago in 2009).
And other designers, including Burkhard Dämmer (who’s German), Oscar Cerezo (Spain), Bang Design (Australia) and Luis Eslava (Spain), have since collaborated with the firm. Their involvement is key to keeping LZF’s ideas renowned fresh and varied – something it’s renowned for.
LZF’s raison d’etre has always been its products. One of its hallmarks is not only lighting as an object but as something which creates a wonderful atmosphere, thanks to the texture, warmth and colour Polywood gives it – as well as the way Polywood itself is used. The products are without a doubt primarily targeted at architects. In the company’s own words: ‘Apart from providing an important guarantee of, with these architects we can demonstrate the broad spectrum of uses our lighting can be put to. Consequently it can reach a wider public, thereby stirring up greater interest in it and enticing more people to buy it –to know if they prefer this or that product. Moreover, our image perennially communicates the following qualities: nature, sensitivity, calm, rationality and warmth.’
In the future, LZF proposes to continue investigating new materials and new ways of assembling its designs – an approach which has been crucial to the company since its inception. It also wants to achieve an even higher quality, wherever possible, in terms of its finishes as well as to perfect its techniques, the innovation of its design and improve ways to relay information about its products to the wider world.
Among LZF’s latest, most notable, completed projects are the restaurant Edificio Veles i Vents (Building of Sails and Winds) for the America’s Cup in Valencia, the Sheraton hotel in Waikiki, Honolulu, and lighting in the office of Singapore’s prime minister.
LZF, ICFF 2010 New York