For those of you looking for our e-commerce site, as of July 2nd, 2012, we are no longer an online retailer of eco-friendly lighting and accessories. We are shifting our focus to be an editorial voice for consumers and designers alike who are interested in emerging lighting technology in the areas of energy efficiency and recycled fixtures.
Please consider following us here, or continuing to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. In the meantime, thanks for all of your support as we move into this next phase!
All orders that have been placed with us will still be fulfilled as promised. If you have questions about a past order, feel free to contact us, at: info[at]alcovebrands.com.
May has always been one of our favorite months, for many reasons. It ushers in the start of summer, with hopes of warmth and sunny days ahead. For homeowners, it’s also a month in which many projects are taken on, including sprucing up that outdoor entertaining area, or the interior after a little spring cleaning. Here at Luxalo, we have a number of things going on that also make us very happy.
One, we’re thrilled to be featured in the Early Summer issue of Standard Magazine as part of their Win The Room giveaway. We’re giving away two beautiful matching bath lights from Varaluz, and a unique mirror and candle accessory from Reclaimed Cleveland as part of a larger bathroom decor makeover package. Other items include beautifully soft bamboo bath towels from Nandina Future Fibers, and a design consultation with James Saavedra. Enter to win now through May 17th!
Two, we’re honored to have been chosen by Lynn Hoffman Design as their social partner of the month. Join us on Lynn’s own Facebook page all month long as we discuss the benefits of eco-friendly lighting.
Here’s to a sunny lead-in to summer for everyone!
We are grateful to Lynn Hoffman for taking the time to share her expertise with us around LEED credits and more. After communicating with her for months solely through email and phone, we had the chance to meet her in person in NYC this past March. She has a passion for sustainable living, coupled with terrific experience in interior design. There is certainly a dearth of information surrounding incentives homeowners have to pursue energy-efficient and eco-friendly options in their homes, and it’s often a question we are asked ourselves. Lynn offers some great tips on how to get started.
In celebration of Earth Month, we are recognizing eco-friendly lighting and design innovators who are leading the way towards a more sustainable home of the future. Today we feature Lynn Hoffman, a LEED-AP ID+C accredited interior designer who has been involved with creating sustainable and healthy home and office environments for years.
We’ve already talked to several pioneers from the sustainable lighting ranks in our Eco-Luminaries series. Today, Luxalo steps outside for a bit broader perspective from an interior designer who understands the sustainable home.
Based in Stamford, Connecticut, Lynn Hoffman Design is a full-service green and sustainable interior and universal design firm dedicated to elevating eco-conscious design to new levels of luxury and sophistication. Lynn is a LEED Accredited Professional, certified by the National Council for Interior Design, and a Connecticut State Registered Interior Designer. She is a professional member of International Interior Designers Association and the U.S. and CT Green Building Council. Lynn’s green interior and universal design work can be found throughout New York, Connecticut, California, the nation and the globe. Her green interior design blog is also a 2012 nominee for “Best Green Blog”.
[LUXALO] What inspired you to get into “green” interior design, and to pursue LEED ID+C accreditation?
[LYNN] I was interested in “green” interior design for many years before it became of any real interest to the architecture, interiors, and engineering professions. I’ve designed numerous corporate, civic, financial, hospitality and residential projects nationally, and I would smell offgasing from finishes, carpets and furniture which would give me headaches, burning eyes and sore throats before leaving the project sites. As a result, I began to do research and asked the manufacturers various questions about their products I had specified, particularly what was in the content of those products. After more involved research, I learned that the offgasing from these products was not healthy for you and could cause health problems for the daily inhabitants of these spaces. I tried as much as I could from then on to specify the less toxic finishes and furniture for my projects, which was quite a challenge. When LEED evolved in 1998 with its rating systems for the design, construction, and operations of high-performance green buildings, I knew I had to get involved and help make a difference.
[LUXALO]What does LEED mean for a U.S. homeowner? How can they go about pursuing certification?
[LYNN] LEED for the U.S. homeowner means you will save energy, water, and money. Your home has been built to provide a healthy environment for you and your family. The U.S.G.B.C. has inspected and given the green stamp of approval to your home. LEED homes frequently sell for more, and in less time than non-green homes.
There are two LEED programs, LEED for Homes which is the rigorous certification program for the design and new construction of high-performance green homes, and REGREEN which is for improving the efficiency and sustainability of existing homes.
To obtain a LEED certified home, you should first talk to your builder, real estate professional or an architect about LEED. Next, contact a LEED for Homes Provider in your area by going to the USGBC LEED for Homes website. Providers are responsible for working with eligible LEED for Homes projects and administering a team of Green Raters who together with the Provider organization will verify that your home is built to meet the rigorous requirements of the LEED for Homes Rating System.
[LUXALO]Aside from environmental benefits, what financial incentives/credits can homeowners gain from certification?
[LYNN] The financial incentives a homeowner can gain from certified homes are in the form of tax credits, fee reduction/waiver, grants, and revolving loan funds. The incentives for homeowners vary according to each state and municipality. DSIRE is great place to start gathering this information. It is a comprehensive database of state, local, utility, and federal incentives and policies that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency (http://www.dsireusa.org/). Also, the Federal Stimulus Money for Green Building is another good resource (http://energystar.gov/taxcredits).
[LUXALO] When your clients consider sustainable lighting, do they typically associate that label with fixtures powered by an energy-efficient source (e.g. LED, CFL), those made from sustainable/recycled materials, or both?
[LYNN] My clients always request LEDs for their homes. LEDs interest them much more than CFLs and other light sources which are sometimes necessary for certain applications. They are much more interested in purchasing the combination of LEDs with recycled/sustainable materials for their lighting fixtures. They feel that combination is the way to go.
[LUXALO] How have you seen consumer perceptions evolve around sustainability in the home, and what do you see in the near future for green home design?
[LYNN] Consumers are much more knowledgeable today about sustainability than even three years ago. The economy has helped them to think more about what they are doing with their money. They want their homes to be more efficient, healthier, and useful for a full life. Consumers are concerned about the future and how it will be for their children.
Green home design and building construction is rapidly advancing in the U.S. Architects, builders, engineers, and interior designers realize we must improve our design and construction knowledge in order to create super-performance homes that our environment can support, and everyone can afford.
To find out more about Lynn Hoffman Design LLC, visit her web site, or follow her on Facebook.
It can be said that there are still some residential lighting manufacturers out there that are hesitant to move into the world of sustainable lighting. When customers have demanded something else for decades, even slow change can be difficult. Not so for designer Joel Tomlinson and his colleagues at 90 year-old Hinkley Lighting, which has broken new ground in this arena with not one, but two new collections as part of its luxury Fredrick Ramond line. Loft and Zen both debuted in 2011, with new pieces still being added. Both feature LED light sources, with Zen taking sustainability a step further through the use of bamboo in the fixture construction itself. Tomlinson was the creative force behind both, joining forces with local woodworker Freddy Hill, based conveniently just a few miles east of the company’s Cleveland (OH) area headquarters.
Many other lighting brands are incorporating LEDs into new lines, and a handful of others are incorporating eco-friendly materials into fixture manufacturing (we profiled one such company doing the latter, Varaluz, in our first Earth Month interview). However, few companies are trying to do those things together as Hinkley has with the Fredrick Ramond Zen collection. We hope it can be inspiring for others who may not yet be inclined to follow suit.
As far as our favorites in either line, we’d have to go with the linear pendant from the Zen collection, and the walnut-finished mini-pendant from Loft. While both collections are very clean in their design across the board (a favorite attribute of ours), we like the balance of the linear pendant, and the wonderfully deep color finish of the mini-pendant. Kudos to Joel, Freddy, and the rest of the team for creating further proof that today’s sustainable lighting knows no design ceiling.
In celebration of Earth Month, we are recognizing eco-friendly lighting and design innovators who are leading the way towards a more sustainable home of the future. Today we complete our interview with Joel Tomlinson, a designer from Hinkley Lighting who recently developed two eco-friendly product lines for Hinkley’s Fredrick Ramond brand.
[LUXALO] How important was it to find a local woodworking partner for this project?
[JOEL] Primarily, a local woodworking partner can speed up the development of items and keep costs lower in terms of timely quality control and shipping. On the artistic end, a local wood worker building your fixture provides for an interesting story which appeals to consumers today. There has been a strong demand for Made in the USA items, and being able to make a fixture locally is rewarding. Not to forget, the inspiration for the Loft collection was derived at the woodworking shop!
[LUXALO]Do you see bamboo as a material that offers great potential for expanded use in the lighting industry, or only for niche/boutique lines?
[JOEL] I think it could expand; there are many interesting new types being developed, but it will probably always be in niche lines primarily. It has great potential and you will see it being used more in furniture, and in other interior areas that are non-lighting. I think in time bamboo plywood will begin to replace wood plywood and prices should come down. Then, the perception will change and it will be viewed as veneered plywood is today; nice, and a common inexpensive alternative. You already see bamboo replacing wood in certain areas; handles for paint brushes, utensil drawer organizers, etc. They have a lower price than their wooden counterparts. Further, the strength (the Chinese use it for scaffolding) and durability of bamboo and the speed in which it grows - 60ft in 3 months, makes it an ideal material for today’s consumer demands.
[LUXALO]Do you think energy-efficient lighting has finally moved past a ‘utilitarian’ perception with homeowners?
[JOEL] If you were to include CFLs in energy-efficient lighting I think you could agree, but there is still a large segment of the population that is reticent to change. Many of the arguments seem related to past perceptions; some remain current and are warranted. For the most part, energy-efficient fixtures are not visually appealing and the CRIs are not that good (although much better than they were in the past). There is also no really good candelabra solution. It is more difficult to create an atmosphere with fluorescent lighting, not to mention the visual nostalgia of the bulb itself. This is apparent in the popularity of replica vintage bulbs.
With regard to LEDs, the perception is becoming more favorable. The products coming to market are getting better with increasing functionality. Unfortunately, the nature in which LEDs produce light, along with their cost, continues to make task and utility lighting more viable applications. Some of the LED retro-fit lamps that are coming to market are very nice, but they are too expensive and do not universally work with wall controls. They may be attractive as an individual item, but they are going to be difficult to incorporate into decorative lighting if they can be seen. I recently read about exciting developments going on in Japan with a candelabra bulb that uses an arced circuit board - it actually performs like its incandescent counterpart and looks good too! Although I have not seen it in use, the company developing it is highly reputable and known for quality bulbs. The current downside is that it is extremely expensive, and the electronics are very specific. I think in the next 3 - 5 years we will be there in the decorative market with LEDs.
[LUXALO] What’s next for Hinkley Lighting / Fredrick Ramond in the realm of sustainable lighting design?
[JOEL] We have items developed in our mix of products. They will perform similar to the current collections, but will be designed to appeal to new and differing audiences. In real business terms, these current collections do “OK”, but they are not hugely profitable. They do require substantially more internal time and resources to develop and get to market (sourcing, procurement and management of the parts and assembly), so I do not see a huge push into this realm. It will be small incremental steps, unless external factors change dramatically.
Our primary focus will probably remain on our exterior and landscape products for the near future, for which we already offer thousands of environmentally-friendly conversions. We have a number of dedicated LED exterior fixtures in our product mix. We are currently in the process of being certified to offer LED Turtle / Wildlife Safe lighting for specific areas that desire it. Though a small niche area, we are always looking for ways to offer greater eco-friendly options to our consumers. Are these considered to be sustainable lighting? Depends on how strict your definition is; they are more eco than a large percentage of their counterparts.
To find out more about Hinkley Lighting, follow them on Facebook.
In celebration of Earth Month, we are recognizing eco-friendly lighting and design innovators who are leading the way towards a more sustainable home of the future. Today we feature Joel Tomlinson, a designer from Hinkley Lighting who recently developed two eco-friendly, LED-powered product lines for Hinkley’s luxury Fredrick Ramond brand.
An LED pendant constructed of sustainably harvested bamboo? Fredrick Ramond combines sustainable materials, beauty, and efficiency all into one package.
For 90 years, Hinkley Lighting has been a leader in residential lighting. Whether you realized it or not, you’ve very likely seen many of their timeless interior lighting fixtures, or one of their award-winning exterior or landscape collections in the wild. Through their luxury Fredrick Ramond line, the company has chosen to break new ground in sustainable lighting, pushing the envelope with two exciting new collections. Loft & Zen are handmade in the U.S.A., and both utilize an energy-efficient LED source (or “engine”, as Joel puts it below); Zen takes that commitment a step further by using sustainably-harvested bamboo in the fixtures themselves. We caught up with the man behind the collections, designer Joel Tomlinson, to find out how it all came together.
[LUXALO] For the benefit of our audience, can you walk us through the creative process of developing the Zen & Loft product lines, starting with the concept?
[JOEL] Once we had an LED engine whose performance we were happy with, I began thinking of the cost of the LED and what it represents. Having a light source that was designed and engineered to truly last 25 years or longer, I had to ask myself; what attributes should a pendant have and what should it look like, having a light source that would last decades and is 10X the cost of a light bulb? How do you avoid the fixture feeling dated one third (8-9 years) of the way through the life of the LED? Does it make sense and is it really green if you are tired with the look in 2 - 5 years and replace it? Should it be sleek and “techy”? Traditional? Modern? At the current cost of the engine, who is the audience that will be in the market for these types of fixtures? The typical questions.
[LUXALO] Once you set those parameters, what type of market were you going after?
[JOEL] After going through the exercise of questioning the conventions of pendant lighting and the current marketplace, I determined the designs needed to appeal to a mid-high market, and the aesthetics of the fixtures should mimic what the LED represents. For the Zen and the Loft collections that meant a timeless finish that would meld with current, past and future finish trends. It should be environmentally conscious and modern. It needs to be sophisticated, taking advantage of the most current technology, but remain understated and simple. Most of all, it needs to be beautiful.
I wanted them to have a boutique, loft feel because it was appropriate for the price points, and would appeal to an audience that would appreciate the quality of the design and technology, while not being prohibited by the cost. The look I was going for also worked with the design concept and our forecasted volumes. Further, the engines were being made in the U.S., so it made sense to look for local/domestic sources for the fixture bodies and market them as being Made in the USA, allowing for a lower carbon footprint.
[LUXALO] What was it about using wood that was attractive?
[JOEL] I began exploring different veneer shades and other organic finishes. During a consult with a local furniture maker/designer (Freddy Hill – Bomb Factory Furniture) on an unrelated project, he had made large, round wooden pedestals for a glass blower to display his pieces, and that was the moment of inspiration for the Loft. What is more timeless than wood? It is ideal to warm up some of the new trends in kitchens (cement, stainless, “Euro” style cabinets), and it works well in existing interiors. It could fulfill all of my design criteria if executed properly. Most importantly, we had an LED element that generated a low amount of heat.
[LUXALO] How did you come up with the various shapes and forms that now make up the Zen & Loft collections?
[JOEL] Because the combination of the light source and material was very unique and modern to the application, I wanted the shapes to feel comfortable and safe; familiar to the end user. I decided to explore classic shapes for pendants with an incandescent light bulb and a glass shade. I also liked the idea of juxtaposing the modern wood finish on a classic pendant shape. These ideas and images were translated into quick form study sketches, followed by a relatively quick and smooth design review and selection meeting.
For the Zen collection, the shape came first; minimal, simple, clean and modern, yet, timeless. I decided to use a new material that I had recently used as a surface to display eco-fixtures in Hinkley’s Dallas showroom, Bamboo plywood, which was ideal for Zen. It is new, eco-friendly, soft and warming; much like the qualities of wood. It fulfilled our design criteria. I then worked out proportions in CAD and made samples in various woods for Loft, and a bamboo finish on the Zen. The samples were finished in differing lusters of eco-top-coat options. This was followed by the typical process of product selection and costing, final packaging, bills of materials, and associated manufacturing decisions.
[LUXALO] You talk about the low heat of the LED being a factor in these collections coming together with wood. How did that all come about?
[JOEL] Thanks to the quality of the engineering with the thermal management of the LED engine, it was possible to keep the heat generated by the LEDs low enough to house them in wood and bamboo safely. This was difficult to do in the past; to generate enough lumens of light needed to perform a task, especially with incandescent / CFL bulbs in a small compartment.
We had been developing LEDs for our landscape line in conjunction with a U.S. firm specializing in engineering and populating (assembling) circuit boards. Removing the heat created by the diode is critical for life and performance of an LED. Working with an outside specialist, we developed a custom heat sync for a 15V (ideal voltage to maximize the performance and life span), constant voltage 4.8W LED engine (35W MR16 equivalent), with 2700K light at a reasonable cost. The color and output was finally at a point that was equal to current bulbs. This was very exciting, and I thought I had to use it for something other than a spot light. Unfortunately, it was not dimmable.
In 2010, constant current LED became available and, significantly, they were now dimmable with the correct driver. With the advent of the constant current LED engine, the technology had advanced to a point that cost and functionality were no longer prohibitive to placing LEDs to specific areas inside the home, in particular areas that require task lighting. Once the functional elements of the design had been defined, it made sense to begin thinking about the aesthetics.
To find out more about Hinkley Lighting, follow them on Facebook.
We were excited to get Ron Henderson of Varaluz to share his thoughts as part of our Earth Month series for many reasons. Chief among them is Varaluz’s role in the movement towards sustainable lighting. They’ve done a terrific job of changing the way consumers view the category by focusing on recycled and natural materials within the fixture itself in a beautiful, unique way. Whenever we have the chance to show off Luxalo to an interior designer, seeing Varaluz pieces for the first time often delivers that ‘wow’ factor. They’re also an anchor in our ‘eco-friendly materials’ category, reserved for fixtures made either in a sustainable manner, or from recycled materials. Varaluz fixtures are generally both.
We’re personal fans of many of their collections, but a few stick out. Fascination is certainly one of their most popular - we particularly enjoy the bath-specific pieces. The relatively new Area 51 is also very interesting, and is so authentically connected to what it’s named for that you can practically feel yourself being watched by aliens as you think about putting it in your home. Our favorite, however, has to be Shaken, if only because you can look at one of the chandeliers and easily imagine the recycled steel being forged to put it all together.
One last note about Ron Henderson and his team at Varaluz. To just about anyone in the lighting industry, they are known as a fun, passionate group that doesn’t take themselves or what they do too seriously (if you don’t believe me, go ‘like’ them on Facebook and see for yourself). During the two major annual lighting shows in Dallas, you can always count on finding plenty of energy radiating from their showroom to draw you in (it could also be the margaritas, but we’re pretty sure it’s the energy too). In any type of business, that’s a formula that usually delivers success.
In celebration of Earth Month, we are recognizing eco-friendly lighting and design innovators who are leading the way towards a more sustainable home of the future. Today we feature Ron Henderson, president and founder of Varaluz, a trend-setter in creating unique fixtures made responsibly from reclaimed and recycled materials.
Sustainable inspiration from a Las Vegas casino? Varaluz is proof that beautiful lighting and eco-friendly materials can be interchangeably combined.
To kick off our Earth Month series on sustainability innovators, we could think of no better subject than Ron Henderson, president and founder of Las Vegas-based Varaluz. Nestled in a city that may know a thing or two about awe-inspiring lights, Ron’s now six year-old company has been pushing the envelope of both sustainability and lighting design since the beginning. With collection names such as ‘Fascination’, ‘Pinwheel’, and the aptly-named ‘Area 51’ (yep, it’s exactly what you think), Varaluz sets itself apart by using nearly all recycled materials in its fixtures; 70% or greater reycled steel, and 100% recycled glass, to be exact. We caught up with Ron to get his thoughts on a few burning questions we had on our minds.
[LUXALO] When many people think of sustainable lighting, they think of LEDs or fluorescents (i.e. an energy efficient light source). Varaluz has chosen instead to focus its sustainability efforts on the composition and manufacture of the fixtures themselves. What prompted that focus, and what do you see as the relationship between the two?
[RON] While energy efficiency has its place, I believe that we can make a larger impact by using responsible materials and designing out waste in the manufacturing and distribution processes. We are constantly looking for new ways to eliminate waste and be more eco-friendly. You may not realize it, but even our packaging is carefully engineered to not only protect our fixtures on their way to you but also to be as efficient and green as possible.
[LUXALO] Do you think there will come a point in which all lighting fixtures are manufactured using eco-friendly practices (e.g. low VOC, recycled materials)?
[RON] I’d like to think that we will come to that point in the near future. Eco-friendliness doesn’t mean a lack of style; responsible materials lend amazing texture, color, and personality to light fixtures.
[LUXALO] Would you say Varaluz manufactures beautiful fixtures that also happen to be made in a sustainable way, or does Varaluz manufacture fixtures made sustainably that are also beautiful?
[RON] Is this a chicken before the egg sort of question? [LUXALO] Yes. [RON] We design with both beauty and sustainability in mind at all times. There is no sense designing a beautiful fixture that has a terrible environmental impact when responsible materials are naturally beautiful to work with.
[LUXALO] Your company recently announced it is supporting American Forests with every purchase in April. What was it about their cause that made you pick them?
[RON] The bottom line is that trees are pretty darn important. Healthy forests have a tremendously positive impact on our lives in so many ways by providing everything from habitats to recreational space. American Forests focuses on protecting and restoring forests both in the United States and around the world and have done so for decades.
[LUXALO] Legend has it one of Varaluz’s early fixture designs was originally sketched on a cocktail napkin. Where is inspiration likely to strike the artisans of Varaluz these days?
[RON] That legend happens to be true, and has repeated itself time and time again. Inspiration these days comes from everywhere: cool textures in Las Vegas casinos; childhood toys; and my good old crazy imagination.
To find out more about Varaluz, follow them on Facebook.