willowlamp is an innovative, award-winning South African lighting company whose products are anchored in one simple yet very ingenious idea: a patented method of attaching ball-chain to laser-cut steel frames. A tiny notch in the metal frame is the key to creating a fastener-free chain curtain system, which unleashes endless design possibilities. These range from very simple sleek lampshades that are relatively affordable to massive, highly complex sculptural art forms and custom chandeliers that are appropriate for huge projects at even the most extreme highend of the market.
Through creativity, we aspire to enrich people’s lives: those who live with our products and those who create them. Our designs fuse organic forms with high tech materials and processes to create a dramatic new genre of lighting. Our work is a symbolic merging of nature and technology. Though each component is industrially manufactured, every lamp is hand-assembled. Each fixture is the result of collaboration between the needs of the user, the creativity of the designer and the skills of the fabricator. Our responsibility is to harness creativity and transform it into high-quality, beautiful objects for everyday use.
Since our inception in 2005, we have won several prestigious awards and have been showcased on numerous design fairs and shows locally and abroad. willowlamp is distributed globally via our international trading partners and also directly to the consumer and the trade. Everything we make is painstakingly hand assembled in-house at our factory in Cape Town. All of our components are made from the highest quality materials available and we have scoured the earth to find the best lighting systems and technologies to integrate into our designs. To keep apace with global trends we are also currently in the process of adapting all our designs to more energy efficient alternatives and can already offer LED solutions to many of our lamp designs on request.
THE FACTORY AND OUR TEAM
willowlamp would be nowhere if it wasn’t for the hard work of its devoted skilled makers and support team. The business is housed in a beautiful high volume studio space in the up-and-coming design district of Salt River near the centre of Cape Town. Since most of our ‘messy’ industrial processes are outsourced, the factory itself is an immaculate, highly organised assembly and creative space. The entire team moved with the company from Johannesburg to Cape Town and have happily settling into their new home at the foot of the majestic and inspiring Table Mountain.
ABOUT ADAM HOETS Owner & Designer
Adam Hoets graduated as an architect from the University of Cape Town in 2000. After graduating he travelled throughout Africa with his partner of the time, an experience that was to shape his life as he came to appreciate that beauty is everywhere and developed a deep passion for Africa’s wild places. Returning to South Africa in 2001 he began his career as a registered architect with his own small practice. He specialized in eco-architecture and his buildings were characterized by their organic sculptural forms and harmonious integration into their surroundings. His architectural projects have shown a flair for progressive design inspired by nature – a focus that is continued in his work under the umbrella of willowlamp. Adam has an obsessive awareness of the intricacies of the willowlamp’s construction and an acute sense and intuitive understanding of sacred geometry and the structural forms found in nature. This manifests in a tightly conceptualized and resolved final product that couples aesthetics and technical design in a harmonious timeless way.
AGENTS AND TRADING PARTNERS
Would you like to be a willowlamp Agent or Partner?
We sell our Products and Illuminated Art Forms all over the world. We are constantly expanding and finding new willowlamp customers. Partnership is a vital part of the willowlamp business growth strategy. Our joint success relies on your skills and expertise in knowing and understanding your unique market and our ability to deliver high quality, exquisite and unique illuminated sculptures.
To become a part of the willowlamp global team is a fairly simple process. Talk to us and we will jointly build a plan to bring willowlamp to your territory. We have a fairly straightforward on-boarding process and a prospectus pack we could send you on request if you are interested and believe you are a suitable candidate.
We will provide you and your team with all the tools and training at our disposal to create and enhance the willowlamp market in your territory. These include catalogues, brochures, lamp samples, chain samples and also a listing on our website with direct access to enquirers in your region.
WHAT PRODUCTS AND SERVICES DOES WILLOWLAMP OFFER?
Collections: Our tried and tested, award winning designs which we have refined over the years are either kept in stock or made to order on a short lead-time (3-6 weeks average) depending on the complexity of the design and size of the order. The best way to familiarize yourself with these is to study the website www.willowlamp.com or this catalogue. The Collections are divided into four main groupings Basic Lampforms, Classic Pendants, Classic Chandeliers and Illuminated Sculptural Art-Forms, within which are numerous ‘families’ of designs. Each of these is available in various standard sizes and finishes and are further customizable if required.
Custom Design: The design and manufacture of custom lighting projects is a more complex process with a longer lead-time (6-10 weeks average) which usually only commences once the final design drawings have been signed off by the client. We are a small business and therefore only take on a limited number of custom design projects, as this is an exclusive service that enables us to create large installations, ‘one-offs’ and limited editions. We have created installations worldwide in very prestigious locations from private homes to hotel lobbies. We welcome our clients and resellers to explore the endless possibilities that the willowlamp system offers and collaborate with us to create completely new designs for specific requirements.
Tailoring and Finish Options: All willowlamp products are available in ‘different finishes’. And as part of our service we adjust heights and drop of our pendants and chandeliers within reason to customer requirements to suit the space. This we call ‘tailoring’.
Metallic Finishes: silver (chrome), brass (raw or polished), copper (lacquered), smoke (black nickel) and rusted steel (lacquered). We have also introduced verdigris (green oxidized copper) on special request.
Colour Finishes: white gloss, red gloss and black gloss. These are the only colours that we keep in stock but any pantone colour is possible upon special request. This will add on additional costs and time to produce the order
ailoring, Chain Length and Drop: All willowlamps can be adjusted and ‘tailored’ to suit specific site conditions and requirements such as the overall drop or height of a fitting. Upon special request any of the standard designs may be altered even further to suit individual requirements. For example we can make mix and blend different chain colours or we can to use LEDs instead of incandescent lamps. Tailoring may have some impact on the final price if the adjustments are substantial. Please note that we can make enlarged versions of any of our designs, however we regard these as part of ‘Custom Design’ discussed further on.
‘Flat-Pack’ Benefits: A major benefit of all of these is that although the end result may be a massive sculptural feature chandelier, they are completely ‘flatpack’ which simplifies the delivery and keeps freight costs affordable.
Support, Service and Logistics: In addition to producing these designs we also offer a high level of customer service and can handle shipping and logistics as well as obtain ratings and certificates where needed. You will find that our high level of customer service and ability to suit customers’ needs is what sets willowlamp apart from nearly every other lighting company.
In order to spark your imagination here are some of the typical ways in which we do custom design work and a few examples of what you can expect. The willowlamp notch system means that you can create your own willowlamp in any shape or form you can imagine. We love to see what other creative people can come up with using our deceptively simple idea. We challenge you to let you imagination run wild and we will fulfil it for you or we can work with you to develop the perfect willowlamp that works for your space.
THE WILLOWLAMP STORY
willowlamp’s story began in 2005 when Adam Hoets (an architect) and Sian Eliot (an industrial designer) were running a small design studio called TeamTwo design in Richmond/Melville in Johannesburg.
Adam was practicing as a full time architect and experimenting with ball chain to create woven spheres and chain curtains and was struggling to find a simple, elegant way to attach many pieces of chain to a structure. Sian was an up-and-coming jewellery designer experimenting with laser-cutting and the two were collaborating on various projects.
The breakthrough came in one of those blinding flashes of pure inspiration and genius between us: a “notch” in laser-cut steel frames to which the ball-chain could be attached. With this deceptively simple idea, willowlamp was born. The notch is now a registered patent of willowlamp™. The ingenuity of a fastener-free system, facilitated by the notch and combined with the power of digital cutting unleashed infinite possibilities in terms of design and scale.
In August 2005, following six months of research and development the first willowlamps were completed. The name and branding of ‘willowlamp’ was also created during the course of 2005 with the help of ‘Rex’ a Johannesburg based graphic design company (www.rexjhb.com). The owners, Olivier Schmidt and Rudo Botha were as fired up about the idea as we were and helped to capture the brand identity and forge our first website and set of brochures literally on a shoestring. We were still creating prototypes in our spare time while continuing with our respective careers.
After that a series of events that can only be described as ‘lucky breaks’ ensured that willowlamp was on the road to success. Upon submitting some images of our very first rather basic designs we were given a small feature in Visi in 2005, this was followed by our first order came from Suburban Films, a production company owned by Linda Notelowitz – a keen supporter of South African artists. This gave us the boost and momentum to launch the product at the Design Indaba Expo February 2006. The public response was overwhelming – people from all classes and cultures (including children and our cats) respond to this simple idea!
Through the Design Indaba we forged ties with our first international agents, the Amaridian gallery based in New York Soho and backed by Mary Slack would become our USA agent. Cameron Peters Fine Lighting based near Oxford would become our UK agent. These strategic partnerships have proved fundamental in building the company and the brand.
Securing our intellectual property from the beginning was essential because the core idea was ingenious yet it was also very simple (and easily copied). We began this process in April 2005 when we registered the ‘notch’ idea for patenting at CIPRO in Pretoria. In March 2006 we registered the idea internationally with the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) in Geneva with the help of Bowman Gilfillan attorneys. That gave us 36 months to test the product’s viability, before we needed to register in individual countries. Since 2006 we have had the help of Von Seidels (and Erik van der Vyfer) an intellectual property law firm in Cape Town.
We now have a full patent in South Africa and the USA.
Design, marketing, distribution and manufacture are each major undertakings in and of themselves and are a lot to take on for a small company just getting started. The first willowlamps were produced in our tiny Richmond studio then in a cottage at the back of our Melville house. It began to dawn on us that the task was too much to take on all at once so we found Greencraft, a specialist bespoke lighting manufacturer in Jeppestown, Johannesburg owned by Alexi Bizos. We in turn decided to open a design studio with a showroom in the then up and coming district of Braamfontein, which has since undergone a complete revival. We operated in this way from 2007 until 2010, which allowed us to slowly grow the company, the design collections and expand our client base and market.
During the course of 2010 however things took a dramatic turn. We decided that willowlamp that to provide better customer service and to be more sustainable as an entity it needed to do its own manufacturing. The company was to be split into two domains, design and manufacture. Sian set up and ran a factory in Johannesburg in Jeppestown while Adam relocated to Cape Town to set up a willowlamp design studio and to expand into the Cape Town market.
In the early part of 2011, Adam decided to purchase Sian’s half share of the business and took over the reins as the sole owner of willowlamp in April 2011, returning to Johannesburg to run the factory. By the end of 2011, Adam decided to relocate the business and staff to new premises in the up and coming design district of Salt River, Cape Town.