Double Kabuto Light in Indigo by Lola Lely is part of the ‘Plant Explorations’ collection, facilitated by The New Craftsmen. Earlier this year, The New Craftsmen invited a select group of craftspeople to the Economic Botany Collection at Kew Gardens to examine and creatively respond to a myriad of objects and their narratives. Lola was inspired by the bold shapes of the various palm species and how their leaves have been transformed by humans over centuries into practical items. She also took inspiration from a lightweight Japanese war helmet called ‘Kabuto’, made from layers of washi paper using a paper mache technique. The statement light combines the simplicity and natural materiality of the palm leaf with the precise craftsmanship and refinement of the Kabuto helmet. It also showcases Lola’s broad knowledge of dye plants and plant wax. The cord of the light has a flexible copper core which can be gently bent into shapes to achieve a plant-like feel. This light consists of one downlight and one uplight, each with 3m flex and a speciality bulb as standard. Due to the natural dyes and hand-painted method, tones may vary slightly.
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The Kabuto Light is made entirely from washi paper, which comes from the mulberry tree that originates in Japan. Lola begins by layering the washi paper into a large mould which she leaves for 24 hours to harden. When released from the mould, the paper holds its permanent shape which cleverly resembles the segments found in palm leaves. Lola then applies various coats of a natural indigo dye plant until its rich blue colour is achieved. The shades are then waxed to a semi gloss finish using carnauba wax derived from palm leaves with the undersides finished with a coat of orange shellac to give it a light-catching glossy sheen. The slim fabric cord flex has been colour matched to the light shades and has been specially made by textile artist, Aimee Betts.
Lola Lely Studio is a multi-disciplinary studio founded by designer and RCA graduate Lola Lely. Lola was born in Hanoi but grew up in the UK, curious from an early age on how objects are made. Drawing, making and the connections between, material, process and maker are all central to her practice.
Specialising in narrative driven installations and furniture, Lola brings an open spirit to her projects, collaborating with anthropologists, storytellers, chefs and silversmiths to produce her work.