What does working primarily with forged metals do for you that other, perhaps more conventional, lamping materials do not?

Working with forged materials offers a surprise with each piece we craft. The thickness of the steel, the placement of the piece in the forge and of course, the impact of the nearly 2000º temperature of the fires of the forge that create the texturing. No two forged pieces are ever totally identical, each has a unique beauty, its own personality.

No two forged pieces are ever totally identical, each has a unique beauty, its own personality.

Artistry is all about drawing inspiration from a variety of places - where do you draw your inspiration from? What are some of the happy accidents you’ve stumbled upon along the way?

Our design team brings a diverse set of artistic backgrounds to their roles at Hubbardton Forge. Among the team’s backgrounds are architecture, stone-carving, jewelry-making, furniture design and, for one, a lighting career that began over 20 years ago in a family business.

Inspiration comes from everywhere. From encounters in their day-to-day lives, our designers are able to find something intriguing, some small aspect of something most people might overlook. Instead, it becomes the catalyst for an amazing piece. Works of art, nature, or even just experimenting with different materials to see what happens - it all has its place.

Every piece you craft has that unique, handcrafted quality that you may not get from a machine assembly line -- how do you balance your artistry with customer demand?

It’s definitely a challenge, but with a history spanning more than 40 years, we’ve had time to explore best-practices. With design, engineering and crafting all working together here in Vermont, there’s open communication between the teams. Each individual involved in the process has the opportunity to introduce new ideas that can improve process even further. Our engineering team also plays a critical role by developing in-house tooling that helps to make sure we can recreate a design within close tolerances, so that while each piece is unique, they look great if you pair one or more together.

Some have called blacksmithing a lost art. Is this true? Do you think Hubbardton Forge has played a role in bringing that art back to the forefront?

They’re half right. Blacksmithing can certainly be an art and anyone who’s seen the work our metalsmiths do would probably agree with that. But we continue to see a high demand for the work we do and the products we produce, we’re confident that appreciation for the art of the forge will keep our hammers ringing for decades to come.

Hubbardton Forge prides itself on being eco-friendly - what are some of the ways you remain sustainable?

We actively seek ways to save energy and prevent waste. We also look at processes to see if we can make them more environmentally responsible. Our efforts have resulted in our company being presented with the Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence three times. We were the first company in the world to beta-test a phosphate-free bioremediation cleaner for our wash solutions. Microbes are used to eat the oils out of the solutions, meaning we use much less water than standard wash solutions. In fact, we’re able to filter our solutions and it’s used for our drinking water at our water stations in the office. We also utilize powder coats for our finishes. It creates no VOCs and excess can be reclaimed and reused rather than washed away like you see with a wet finish coat. Our commitment extends to educating the design community as well. Late last year, we introduced a CEU course on sustainable design.

What Hubbardton Forge piece do you feel best represents the brand and why?

Our Cirque and our Corona chandeliers are iconic. These classic pieces continue to be very popular among our customers and incorporate traditional design and forged elements with the high-quality craftsmanship for which we’re so well-known. For 2017, we’ve introduced the new Zephyr Pendant. Like the Cirque, the heat-textured forge elements are on display, but it’s coupled with innovative use of LED light guides that are shaped like flowing ribbons. It’s perfect illustration of tradition and technology working together.

What do you do to get your creativity flowing?

Our design team have methods as varied as their backgrounds. Some sketch ideas, others work with foam or metal shapes to uncover intriguing configurations. The team works closely together, so an idea brought by one member will be shared and revisions and suggestions will often come about. There are also a lot of snacks involved.

So much of Hubbardton Forge’s branding and identity (and certainly its sister company Vermont Modern) is tied into being from Vermont: In what way do your surroundings play a role in your designs?

Our surroundings come into play in a variety of ways. We have more than 230 people standing behind each piece we produce. Each of those people have a scenic commute to work and seeing that, it’s easy to understand why we’d want to produce our lighting in environmentally responsible ways. The shapes of nature also show up in a number of our designs, including our iconic forged leaf designs. It’s partly due to that respect for nature that our design director says we “make heirlooms, not landfill.” There’s an honesty, a truth to the sculptural pieces…We’re makers.

We make heirlooms, not landfill.

What advancements that you see in the lighting industry most excite you?

LED technology has opened the floodgates of creativity. With advancements in LED, the lighting element can be incorporated into the design, it can be part of the sculpture.

What’s next for Hubbardton Forge? What’s on the horizon?

With the introduction of our two new lines, Vermont Modern by Hubbardton Forge and Synchronicity by Hubbardton Forge, our team has three distinct lines to keep the creativity flowing. Designs that might have been a touch too urban for Hubbardton Forge now find a home in Vermont Modern. Synchronicity meanwhile, adds another design element to their repertoire. Everyone was excited to incorporate crystal into designs, but only wanted to go that direction if the designs were unique, and the finest crystal treated with intent.

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