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Be Inspired: Gorgeous Ethical Lighting Designs

With overflowing landfills and oceans clogged with plastic, we need to start thinking differently about what we consider ‘waste’. Over the last ten years, we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century.

UK household recycling rates also dropped last year for the first time in five years, still some way off the 2020 goal of recycling 50% of all household waste. The need for more consciousness is clear. With some creative thinking and design, what traditionally has been consigned to the scrap heap can be reinvented.

Here at Grace & Green we love to celebrate businesses which have practices that are good for the planet, as well as society. We recently sat down with South African lighting designer Stephen Pikus, whose raison d’être is to be part of the solution, rather than the problem

Based in Johannesburg, Stephen Pikus Design re-purposes discarded materials by harnessing the most environmentally and socially friendly processes possible. Working closely with recycling agencies and established NGOs, they are a socially motivated enterprise that also create gorgeous pieces of ‘functional art.’

south african lighting designer

                                  South African lighting designer Stephen Pikus

Stephen first saw the value of repurposing while working for a not-for-profit organisation and orphanage in the mountains. He met several artists and began working with them on transforming derelict farm houses at minimal cost. Stephen had grown up using his hands - his father was a building contractor - and from a young age he had loved the thrill of watching something take shape.

Working within very limited budgets meant that Stephen would trawl the rubbish yards and be inspired to re-purpose surprising objects. One ‘lightbulb’ moment was when he was at a service station in the middle of the Karoo desert and saw an air filter sticking out of a garbage bin. Inspiration struck that it would make the perfect lamp shade and the TRuK Lighting range was born.

These lights have an edgy, industrial feel and can be used as pendants or as table lamps. The air filters are from diesel trucks and extremely hard to recycle - being tainted with oil and diesel - so these clever designs are a brilliant way of re-purposing.

The evocative FIRE + ICE range is lighting made from recycled glass and fashioned into extraordinary chandeliers that emit delicate shafts of light. There are four standard designs but these can be customised into bespoke pieces upon request.

                   FIRE + ICE Linear Chandelier. Image: Stephen Pikus Design

fire and ice in the bathtub

                           FIRE + ICE Chandelier. Image: Stephen Pikus Design

What makes these pieces even more special is that they are made in workshops populated by the local community in Johannesburg. Stephen brings new meaning to ‘creative human resourcing’; his latest employee was hitch-hiking down the highway last week with his wife and small children when Stephen stopped to pick them up. On finding out the man was unemployed, he offered him a job in his workshop. Lucas is now being trained in making the chandeliers. With almost 30 people now working on assembly and production, as well as sourcing materials, it’s a wonderful social enterprise.

Worker in the scrapyards at Stephen Pikus designs

One of Stephen Pikus' team sourcing materials. Image: Stephen Pikus Design

AS Stephen comments, “for me, the social uplifting aspect is just as important as the environmental impact. There is so much that is overlooked in both design and society. Our design ethos is about harnessing everything we can and giving back.”

Stephen Pikus Design presently undertakes hospitality and commercial projects across South Africa, as well as bespoke installations in private residences. Entrenched in the South African market, Stephen is now taking his beautifully unique pieces global. 

“People are more aware. They don’t want to buy something that’s made without the consideration of the environment and people.”

The design studio’s conscientious approach extends to the packaging and shipping. For example, many of the components of the fixtures nest within one another, thus taking up minimal space and reducing the overall carbon footprint. The small crate used for packing also converts into a coffee table, fitting in with Stephen’s overall ethos of ‘waste not, want not’.

It’s an ethos that designers, retailers and consumers are awakening to across sectors. Grace & Green is a socially responsible lifestyle brand connecting women with exceptional period products that are kind to your body as well as the planet. The products have no harmful chemicals and toxins and no garish and plastic packaging.

Be conscious about the way you live. Join the movement today.

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