Head Hi Lamp Show in New York prioritises "creation over commercialization"

Collection of lamps during Head Hi show in Soho Loft

Brooklyn design bookstore Head Hi has showcased lamps made by 54 different designers for its annual group show during NYCxDesign.

The fifth annual Head Hi Lamp Show happened in a long Soho loft with white-painted walls and wood flooring, having moved from its previous Brooklyn location. At the entrance was a bar area with two lamps in the shape of martini glasses by Brooklyn fashion designer Jesse Lee.

Collection of lamps during Head Hi show
The Head Hi show included lamps by (left to right): Sheerly Touch-Ya, Shisanwu (hanging); Matthew Neporent; Studio Armando Aguirre; Andrew Laska; Brandon Plumert, Object Fixation; Gabriella and Thomas Feuillet; Jake Coan Design; Jesse Lee (behind)

Designs featured ranged from high-tech to extremely playful. Computer scientist Connor Rowland’s Daisy lamp had a pyramid of thin spaced slabs of metal with light emanating from below, while a figurative lamp named Glowster by the multidisciplinary team of Usman Jamil, Adnan Aga, and Pujarini Ghosh is in the shape of a toaster with an illuminated piece of toast.

Other pieces walked the line between the two, such as Brooklyn design duo Gregory Beson and Liza Curtiss’s Bug Lamp, a low-lying circular lamp with thin metal “legs” and slightly worn metal parts.

Lamps arranged around Soho loft
It featured lamps by 54 designers in a New York loft space

The range of designs was as diverse as the designers, who must submit applications to take part in the show. Many of them live in Brooklyn, but other American cities and international designers were also represented.

Head Hi co-founder Alexandra Hodkowski said that designers – or “Lampers” – often submit multiple years in a row, with the show drawing a lot of interest because of its ability to track a diversity of aesthetics and general changes in technology and design.

Collection of lamps during Head Hi show
A wide range of aesthetics were present with lamps by (left to right): Dexter Callender III; Studio Atomic; Jasmine Gutbrod (below); Usman Jamil, Adnan Aga, & Pujarini Ghosh; Arian Franz

“Each year there’s a lot of changes in materials or technology,” she told Dezeen. “And it’s really interesting to follow them long term.”

“The importance of the lamb show is that the main objective is the creation of this object rather than the commercialization,” added co-founder Alvaro Alcocer.

Collection of lamps during Head Hi show in Soho Loft
It also included lamps by (left to right): Nathan Omans; Jude Di Leo; Jason Connell

The pair emphasised that the “participatory” and “experimental” aspects of the show kept it fresh and helped to build community, as each participant brought their own networks to the table.

Another standout design was Composition L by New York-based industrial designer Lynn Lin. The lamp presented an architectural arrangement of colourful “upcycled” resin blocks and rested on a pedestal at the end of the gallery, near the large loft windows.

Collection of lamps during Head Hi show in Soho Loft
Other lamps were designed by (left to right, front table only): Hawa Al-Najjar; Alain Grossenbacher, AFG Objects; Gabriel Jewell-Vitale; Joelle McKenna, McKenna Studio; Pat Kim

Among the international designers was Etienne Vernier from Montreal, who created a lamp made from “on hand” parts fastened together by rubber bands.

Ho Chi Min City-based designer Dương Gia Hiếu created a lamp meant to “bypass all the barriers of shipping”. It arrive to the show as flat pieces of polarized film and a lighting element shipped in flat pack that was then assembled on site.

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Many of the lights presented mobility as a key aspect, such as Pat Kim’s Clouded Mountain, a lamp with a wooden base and a mobile-like shade that could be moved to change the modulation of the illumination.

Other participants included Shawn Lucas, who presented a small stained-glass lamp, and Studio Armando Aguirre with its sculptural light made of Lego bricks.

Collection of lamps during Head Hi show in Soho Loft
Niles Fromm, Fromm Design; Tanda Francis; Antoine Jeraj, Jeraj Design; Jackie Frole, Jackieland; Shawn Lucas also had lamps in the show

Head Hi noted that after this year, the show will transition to a biannual format, with the next taking place in 2026.

Other shows during New York’s design week included a collection of metal furniture by queer designers at Lyle Gallery.

The photography is by Curtis Wallen.

The Head Hi Lamp Show was on from 17 to 19 May in Manhattan. See the NYCxDesign 2024  guide on Dezeen Events Guide for information about the many other exhibitions, installations and talks taking place throughout the week.

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