Fed up with old-fashioned, expensive luminaires, two young Toronto designers decide to make their own bright lights
As lighting designers, Christian Lo and David Ryan of Anony were up to their elbows in bedazzled chandeliers and custom lighting systems – some with steep price tags – when reality hit them hard. “The objects were out of touch with what we prefer aesthetically, and what we could afford ourselves,” says Lo, realizing that she still had a bare lightbulb hanging from a junction box in her own apartment kitchen.
Instead, the OCAD University and Humber College grads wanted local manufacturing, high-end LED technology and slow, thoughtful design. Add an interest in modular components and a push for affordability, and the two had found their shared vision. Armed with the mentorship (and office space) of Eurolite president Charles Lyall, Lo and Ryan formed Anony in 2015. They spent more than a year developing their five-piece collection, chasing down every fabricator and manufacturer in the city. Debuting at the top of 2017, the studio quickly earned international buzz, named Studio North’s Best Collection at the year’s Interior Design Show.
Defined by a streamlined aesthetic, the pieces shine in their adaptiveness. The Horizon wall sconce can push light in any direction with a 360-degree rotating plate. When flat, it creates a perfectly distributed, unbroken ring of light, but as Ryan explains, “A simple gesture changes the whole experience of the room.”
For the suspended hanging light Form, they ditched a wire, opting instead for a plug-in headphone jack. This feature enables the light to be rotated up and down, and allows it to connect to others in a grid pattern. Meanwhile, Form’s dynamic sibling Dawn invites conversation with sculptural elements inspired by the sunrise: shades of grey Plexiglas drooping Dalí-style over the horizontal light source.
Not that the pair has departed entirely from custom work. On the contrary, they’ve earned a reputation for being technical miracle workers, often integrating their own lighting technologies into designs. They’ve twice paired up with interiors firm Studio Munge to create unique and thought-provoking lighting installations, at Rebel Nightclub and Bisha Hotel’s rooftop restaurant, Kost.
Still, it’s their original designs that remain the focus, with a modular chandelier system out just in time for IDS 2018. Like Dawn, it’s full of visual cues encouraging interpretation – a yo-yo, a pulley system, even a constellation. “We like to ask: Why isn’t this possible? Why doesn’t this exist?” The studio is a hub for that curiosity – bringing the seemingly impossible to life.