What’s the story behind RBW?
Our purpose is to use light to positively transform environments, communities, and lives. The brand was founded in 2009 by three Rhode Island School of Design graduates—Theo Richardson, Charles Brill, and Alexander Williams—and there’s now about 60 team members across innovation, engineering, operations, marketing, sales, and finance. It’s grown quite a bit since the early days.
The new RBW headquarters in Hudson Valley, New York, looks amazing. What’s it like to work there?
I’m actually here today, and it’s wonderful! It’s a 100,000-square-foot facility for our innovation and product operations, and it will also act as a hub for team togetherness and collaboration. We’ve just completed phase one and phase two is in progress, so it’s ever-changing. It’s really fun to come in on a weekly basis and see it take on new forms. There’s a lot of excitement and forward momentum here now.
We also have the RBW showroom in the Soho Design District, which is where people can experience our collection of luminaires in person and gain access to exhibitions and contemporary programming. It’s a really vibrant area of New York City and you can really feel the energy when you’re there.
RBW is a B Corp, meaning you consider the social and environmental impacts of the business. What kinds of initiatives have been put in place to achieve this?
We were awarded B Corp status in 2019, which was super exciting. As a certified B Corp, we’re held to rigorous standards of ecological and social accountability—and that informs the integrity of our business, the empowerment of our team and local communities, and our ongoing sustainability initiatives. Some of our best-selling collections, for example, are packaged in Ecovative foam, a biodegradable material grown from the root structure of mushrooms. We’re constantly improving and getting ourselves in a place where we can start monitoring our carbon footprint.
What would you say characterizes an RBW product?
We believe in the power of light to create atmosphere. Good lighting helps to shape our sense of well-being and plays a role in productivity and improving everyday life—it can fill a room with optimism and energize us, or help us unwind and relax. I think what sets RBW apart is our forward-thinking, technology-driven approach to design, which invents lighting solutions that are out of the ordinary—unprecedented shapes, or subtle upgrades to familiar forms. Our DNA is all about intuitive ease and simplicity, integrity of craft and material, and high-quality lighting with a playful point of view.
Can you tell me more about the Mori Pendant and how it’s been used in the Dwell House?
I’m just generally obsessed with the work of Norm Architects, so to hear they were considering the Mori Pendant was quite flattering. The unique design point of view of the Dwell House is the perfect environment for one of our most iconic designs to really flourish.
Ten years ago, when the collection was designed, we set out to achieve warmth and luminosity through the use of LED technology. These things didn’t really go hand in hand at that time. It’s a simple crosswire frame that’s fully cocooned in woven polymer threads then sprayed with a matte lacquer finish. The unique form of the Mori Pendant casts a lantern-like, ambient glow in a space, and the texture of the shade creates a sense of calm that allows you to settle into the space.
The Dwell House is an efficiently planned space and it was important to make the most of the footprint and marry visual impact with function. The Mori Pendant is placed in the living area, in front of the bi-fold glass wall that leads to the deck. When you enter the space, you get a nice moment of impact from seeing that pendant in the main area. It also acts as a functional beacon of light.
If you had a Dwell House, how would you use it?
I’m based in upstate New York and have been hoping to build a Scandinavian-style house on some land—as someone who is very design-minded, however, I’m concerned that it would be really tough to achieve this with local fabricators and materials. I would love the possibility to just crane in this beautiful structure and use it as a wonderful, efficiently sized living space with high design, beautiful finishes, and quality construction.
Tour Dwell’s new prefab ADU.
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