Why Brendan Ravenhill’s ADA Sconce Comes Standard in the Dwell House

The Los Angeles lighting designer customized the adjustable fixture for the prefab home’s cedar facade.

What’s the story behind Ravenhill Studio?

Ravenhill Studio has been around since 2010 and it grew out of a desire for me to bring my ideas to life. I graduated with a master’s degree in Industrial Design from Rhode Island School of Design in 2009 and found myself in a horrible economy. So, I moved out from Providence to L.A. on a whim to skip winter. A restaurateur saw a bottle opener I designed and I soon had an amazing opportunity to design the interiors of a new restaurant. This introduced me to the rich network of makers and fabricators in L.A.—it’s such a special place to be as a designer. The studio evolved and we started focusing on lighting collections that explore material and craft.  

How do you approach the design process?

We think of ourselves as problem-solvers. We try to have a conversation with the material and the vendors—then we work with local fabricators who make the various components. Through talking with them, we learn more about the material or process. We also do a lot of prototyping ourselves, which helps to edit the design. We’re always refining, tweaking, and adjusting. All our lighting collections are trying to achieve different goals but they can all be used to help architects and designers solve specific problems. Our process involves engaging with our clients and asking them what they’re missing—that’s influenced a lot of our designs. 

The outdoor sconces designed by Ravenhill Studio for the Dwell House provide adjustable exterior lighting.

Before getting into product design, I did an undergrad in sculpture at Oberlin and I spent a few years as a boat builder. The thread that runs through all those disciplines is the idea of economy and simplicity of form. You can be much more delicate with lighting than you can with furniture and it also has this amazing ability to transform space with its atmospheric, elemental properties. If a light looks good but doesn’t cast a beautiful light, it’s not a success. We always think about how light can be used as an ingredient to create a certain mood. 

How did the collaboration with Dwell come about?

Dwell did a feature on our floating sea sauna project in Maine last year and the team was simultaneously working on the Dwell House project with Norm Architects—and one of the products they were looking for was an outdoor sconce to anchor the doors, so we put forward our ADA Sconce.

What was the process like?

We sent our ADA Sconce to Norm Architects and they very thoughtfully considered how we could modify it to better fit the project. We settled on this idea of doing a deep black wire-brushed finish on the oak shades to complement the other exterior finishes and hold up to the rigors of extreme outdoor environments. We have a lot of respect for Norm Architects and that was part of the attraction for this project—the ability to work with them and get their insights.

Can you tell me more about the ADA Sconce?

The ADA Sconce grew out of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which dictates that a sconce should not protrude more than four inches if mounted in a hallway—it was exciting for us to think about how to respond to that constraint while engaging with the form, material, and how the light is cast. The real magic is in its flexibility. It has two louvred fins that can be adjusted so the light can be manually dimmed and oriented to change the way it interacts with the space. That playfulness is something I really love. It also references Charlotte Perriand’s CP1 Wall Sconce in its simplicity.

Ravenhill's ADA 17 Sconce, seen here in a custom Dwell House finish, gets its name from the American with Disabilities Act, which says that hallway lighting should not stick out from the wall by more than four inches.

In the Dwell House, the lights flank both the side door and the large glass wall that connects the interior to the outside. They act as these beacons towards home and help to define the outdoor space. That’s the power of outdoor lighting—you can create a real sense of ambiance.

A 12-foot bifold glass wall, flanked by Ravenhill’s ADA Sconces, make the Dwell House ideal for indoor/outdoor living and make its interiors feel more expansive than their 540 square feet.

Why are ADU homes such a relevant housing typology for today?

We need more densification in our cities and we’ve seen the benefits of infill density. On top of that, people want flexible spaces to host guests or to work from home. These factors combined with the increase in housing costs have made the prefab model very favorable. It’s definitely exciting times with so many new opportunities for people to be able to get access to more space without the cost or construction time of building ground up these days. 

How would you use the Dwell House?

I would love to buy a plot of land somewhere in a beautiful environment and orient the house towards the view to enjoy the changing seasons.

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