A burst of creativity

New York 2015: in the first of a series of interviews with prominent New York designers, Lindsey Adelman tells Dezeen about how she became a pioneer of the city's burgeoning lighting scene.

Adelman, 45, has become a key figure in New York design since setting up her eponymous studio in 2006. Her lighting designs are sold by internationally renowned galleries including Nilufur in Milan and BDDW in New York, and have been exhibited at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum and the Design Miami fair.

Her DIY approach to design and production influenced a number of emerging New York designers, resulting in a "makers" scene that Adelman said began after the financial crash in 2008.

"I think a lot of people wanted to stay as creators and really started looking into options of doing it themselves," she told Dezeen at this year's International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York. "Cutting down an overhead, finding other spaces, not taking a salary, setting up a shared woodshop or a collective ceramic studio etc."

"Just making it happen rather than relying on other companies, because that wasn't an option," she continued. "I think for those reasons, there's a huge burst of creativity that came after that time."

Adelman's fascination with lighting began during her studies at the Rhode Island School of Design. She then worked with David Weeks – another pioneer of New York's lighting scene – before setting up her own studio and continuing to work with the field she describes as "fun" and "spontaneous".

"I find [lighting] interesting because it's an immaterial substance," Adelman said. "This idea of working with something that's about effect; it's intangible, you're really shaping form to maximise a lighting effect."

In their Manhattan loft space, Adelman's team of 28 works on full-scale models of the predominantly glass and metal lighting pieces before producing and shipping limited runs of each design in-house.

A large portion of New York designers also focus on lighting because it is relatively easy and cheap to produce, according to Adelman.

"A kid could make a light," she said. "It's positive wires and negative wires that get spliced together with a bulb and a socket. There's so much freedom in it, it's not like you need a specific type of training. It's not very expensive as well."

Adelman also designs collections for Brooklyn lighting brand Roll & Hill, which produces the Agnes lamp – perhaps her most recognisable design.

At this year's ICFF she debuted work by Mary Wallis, who has worked with the studio for over five years. Another of her protégés, Bec Brittain, presented work under her own name at the event earlier this week.

The spirit of collaboration between New York's designers and brands is aided by an unusual shared interest in archery, initiated by the founders of design gallery BDDW.

"They're into archery and they started a club, then invited a number of companies and studios and individuals to be part of it," she explained. "When you go up to shoot arrows, you end up talking in a different way that's more relaxed." Adelman's other projects include creating the set and furnishings for an upcoming music video, in which she also features as a backing dancer.

Photography is by Lauren Coleman, unless otherwise stated.