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Interview: Ango Modern Handmade Lights

Categories: Exclusive Interviews

We’ve got another hot new brand that’s been added to the 2Modern collection to showcase today! Ango is modern, handmade lights that are organic, dynamic, natural and bold. Helmed by Angus Hutcheson, we love how there’s a mix of organic elements but it’s mixed with technology and really high-quality. It makes for an interesting dichotomy and for something that would make a stunning addition to a modern home.  We asked Angus some questions about his brand, his designs, his backgrounds and more: 

2M: How did you get into this field? When did you know you wanted to be a designer?
Angus Hutcheson: I’d decided by around the age of 11 or 12 to become an architect, but after being expelled from secondary school, was told I’d probably have to work as a refuse collector! Anyway around a year after this setback, I went for my interview at the Architectural Association in London, and when the panel heard my explanation about what had happened, took it as a positive, indicating independence of thinking, and with my rather naïve drawings, I was in.

The school was a total hotbed of ideas under the chairman Alvin Boyarsky, while the education in terms of reaching full potential was unparalleled, and it was really a great privilege to study there at that time. After graduation and working in architecture, I became more and more interested in furniture and lighting design, particularly lighting, and at the same time, increasingly found I wasn’t so good at balancing all the constraints and compromises involved in the process of architecture. The change in direction was realized 8 years ago, and so it turned out that to express the magic of architecture, I was better suited to the field of lighting design, creating a vision of what might be, realized in light, and at the same time work in a field that allowed far more for you to set your own agenda.

2M: What’s exciting you in the design world right now?
AH: I’m very happy working in the field of lighting design, which I think is magical always, but particularly exciting at the moment, being at the intersection of new materials and processes, as well as new lighting technology. More generally, I think design is going to move centre stage more and be seen in its essence — mankind’s ability to achieve more while using less, and this is absolutely centred in the great debate about how we can avoid destroying our earth. All branches of the design world will increasingly reflect the issues of sustainability, embedded energy and recyclability — the pure design end of the spectrum by actually meeting this, and the other end of the spectrum in design / art more by conceptualizing it. This in turn will all generate a very wide ranging debate about materials and manufacturing techniques.

2M: How would you describe you or your company’s style? How did you find it? How has it evolved since you first started?
AH: Our designs are nearly all lighting and describe a kind of allegory about nature and technology — a vision of an electric arcadia created with light. Then there’s always a focus on innovation with new materials and processes, using these to create new light fantasies, which are characteristically Ango.

2M: Do you live by, run your business by or achieve goals by any specific design philosophy?
AH:Keep on pushing, keep on experimenting.

2M: What steps did you take to get your business running so successfully? How much time do you spend creating vs. running a business?
AH: When we started, we were focused primarily on designing and developing lighting and furniture, and were not particularly aiming to be a producer. But it wasn’t possible to find any established entity who could fabricate our designs, and this lead us into creating and training from zero our own teams of skilled artisans to realise our pieces, so we became a producer de facto. But this unintended in house capability, mostly embracing quite intricate and involved hand-made production techniques has been very important I think in our progress. I’m spending probably 90% of the time creating or experimenting, and clearly this is only possible because of the great team we have!

2M: What challenges do you face on a daily basis? What is your creative or business process like?
AH: A normal working day starts in my office at home, where I would be starting on a promising new idea for a lighting design. I’d then maybe move over to work on an experiment that’s been ongoing for some time before going to our production workshops to see the progress of a new design that’s being worked on.

2M: Where do you find inspiration for your designs? Any designers, past or present, that inspire you?
AH: I look a great deal at the richness and sometimes apparent chaos in the urban landscape, with the often extraordinary juxtapositions we’ve created, and in my walks around the city I sometimes find materials that inspire or sometimes it may be the ingenious use of a material that’s been used in a new way, like a kind of 21 st century vernacular. I also look at the elegance of different forms of nature — one reference work that’s been with me for many years is “Patterns in Nature” by Peter S. Stevens, which is a beautiful concise study.

The formative influences when I was at the Architectural Association were tutors David Greene and Sir Peter Cook, both originally of the Archigram group and then both exceptionally inspiring educators, and the most inspiring designer for me has to be Buckminster Fuller.

2M: Favorite project you’ve worked on so far?
AH: Generally my favourite design is the one I’m working on at the time, and everyone around me complains that I have a single track mind focused only on current projects!

2M: What sort of goals do you have for your business in the upcoming months? Anything new and exciting that you want to share with the 2modern readers/listeners?
AH: We’re always searching for a magic combination of light diffusion and form, and we’re just launching first designs where the light diffuser is formed from an exciting new polymer developed by Ango that is totally derived from sea kelp. For us there has always been a focus on the development of new materials and processes, to create fresh forms and light fantasies, and a little more long term, we’re planning our own farm- factory, which will be on a piece of land we’ve acquired, where we’ll actually grow some of the materials that we use. We also plan to create studios where visiting designers and artists can work, moving to the new base in around two years time, and I hope this’ll help take us to a different level in terms of what we can do, developing new ideas, and nurturing young design talent.

2M: If you were not a designer, then what would you be doing?
AH: Probably a carpenter, or just possibly a musician.

2M: What book is on your nightstand right now?
AH:I’m en route to Paris where we have the show opening later this week, and am surrounded by magazines and documents, but also have “Decoding Reality” by Vlatko Vedral given to me recently by my sister, which I’m just starting and looks really interesting.

Thanks, Angus! Check out all of Ango’s modern handmade lights on 2Modern: Ango.

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