Category Archives: Designer Profiles

Meet Product Designers Caleb Siemon and Carmen Salazar

Caleb Siemon and Carmen Salazar’s lighting product line, exclusively available at Lightology, initially caught our attention with their Banded Orb pendants, vibrantly colored glass inspired by the topography of California.

Banded Orb Pendants

Banded Orb Pendants

Their entire line of hand blown glass pendants, wall sconces and table lamps shows off Caleb Siemon’s signature aesthetic of thick glass and exciting colors.

Read on to find out how Caleb & Carmen became one of Southern California’s most exciting new product designers.

Caleb Siemon

Caleb Siemon

Caleb Siemon

Most glassblowers aren’t born artists,” says Caleb Siemon. “They’re born pyromaniacs.” Son of a jeweler, he grew up making things with his hands, got hooked on glass in high school, and honed his craft at the Rhode Island School of Design. He then set out for Murano, Italy, with a backpack, a few words of Italian, and the hope of an apprenticeship with renowned master glass sculptor Pino Signoretto. The maestro ignored him for a month, while Caleb attentively sketched his work and tried not to get in the way. Eventually an apprenticeship evolved.

Caleb spent two years in the Muranese studio with the glassmaker versatile enough to produce both enormous sculptures and delicate goblets. Here, he was encouraged to “steal with his eyes.” Caleb’s style shows the influence of his early tutor, coupled with an unabashed passion for the medium. “The transparency and fluidity of the material makes it unique,” he says. “I always start with an idea, but have learned to remain flexible to allow for the natural qualities of the glass”.

Caleb returned to Southern California in 1999 and constructed his own Italian-style studio. From furnace heights and bench design, to a system where each piece is created closely with a team of assistants, his methods reflect his Muranese immersion. Loris Zanon, Pino Signoretto’s master coldworker, traveled from Murano to guide the construction of Caleb’s coldshop and pass on the techniques of glass carving and polishing.

From the Scandinavian glass tradition, Caleb has developed an affection for simple forms, taking advantage of gravity and centrifugal force in design. By pairing these approaches to glassmaking, he has developed a signature aesthetic that reflects the evolved detail of the Muranese and balance and restraint of the Scandinavians. Caleb continues to invite international glass workers to his studio to share their techniques with the next generation of glass artists. His work exhibits internationally and is featured in galleries around the world.

Lattimo Pendants

Lattimo Pendants

Carmen Salazar

Carmen Salazar

Carmen Salazar

While her husband has binged on glass with a singular focus, his wife and partner, Carmen Salazar, has sipped from many ponds. Sculptor, metalworker, architect, botanist, scavenger, and conservationist, Carmen is a curious hybrid of urban and rural. She brings the influence of many streams to her work in the glass shop. She is a recipe that calls for equal parts concrete and pasture, glass and steel and rough-hewn beams. Carmen grew up shuttling between Washington DC and the family farm in Augusta, West Virginia. In college, she began to cultivate a love for metal, glass, and the vegetal world. Carmen left the Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in sculpture and art history, but also a peripatetic interest in reshaping the larger natural world.

In 1997, she drove to San Francisco where she spent two years working for a land artist, metal sculptors, horticulturalists, and glass blowers. In 1999, she moved to Orange County to help Caleb build his first shop. “I thought I was just going down for a month or so” she says, “but here we are, a decade later.” The intersection of her diverse interests led her to the Southern California Institute of Architecture in 2001.

After receiving her masters in architecture at SCI-Arc in Los Angeles, Carmen worked in the high end residential realm and then on the design team for a large scale public park. With her skills in architecture, interior and landscape design, the pair have embarked on an aesthetic leap forward.

They are now executing large scale custom projects and installations while maintaining the studio’s carefully cultivated quality and visual signature. “I have a somewhat less controlled aesthetic than Caleb. Maybe it comes from working with so many plants.” says Carmen, “I love to scavenge pieces from the studio, tests and such, and re-purpose them. Caleb always looks like he has a tinge of fear when I start experimenting in the studio, like, ‘gosh, I hope she doesn’t blow us up today.’”

Happy Kiss Pendants

Happy Kiss Pendants

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Marty Lescht and Lightology Pair for Eco-Friendly Lighting at Chicago’s All Vegan Restaurant, Karyn’s On Green

Marty Lescht ASID and AIA (PA) of Lescht and Associates, is an Interior Architect and Designer based out of Chicago but known nationwide for his almost 40 year resume, touting such greats as Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises (Hub 51, Tru, Everest) to luxury hotels and the restoration of the Wrigley Building. Marty often pairs with Lightology for his projects, most recently to design Karyn’s On Green, an all-vegan restaurant looking for a design to match its chic, eco-friendly menu.

Saggina Chandelier from Lightology

“I carved the ceiling tiles to look like branches,” says Lescht. “And we used the Saggina Chandelier because of its likeness to the branches of a tree. With the lights, you get a starlight effect, making the whole chandelier really play off the branch carvings and everything that I did with the ceiling.”

What was your vision for the space?  
Because we live in Chicago and it’s dark so much of the year, and I wanted to create a feeling more like Malibu or Santa Monica — very cool and natural, with an outdoor feeling. When you walk into Karyn’s On Green, you get the feeling that the food and the experience will be fresh and clean. I create unique, interesting designs, but I like working with neutrals and am influenced by nature. This way, the people and the food really get to be the star and enhance the ambiance of the restaurant.

How do you incorporate lighting into your designs?
I don’t incorporate lighting; it is the main factor in my projects. I could spend a million dollars on a project and if it’s not lit properly — it’s a waste. Dimming is incredibly important so you can change lighting effects from day to night, seasonally, etc. And for this project, all the lighting is eco-friendly, to coordinate with the all-vegan menu.

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Designer Profile: Mia Rao

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Call her a design philanthropist. Mia Rao, of Mia Rao Design in Chicago, IL never thought that being a designer would win her any points on the do-gooder scale.

“For the longest time, I thought I wasn’t doing anything philanthropic,” says Mia. “But I’ve come to realize that people are really affected by their environment. It’s exciting to watch the transformation of a space, but the most rewarding aspect of being an interior designer is finding out how much your designs can impact a person’s life.”

Mia has used Lightology for many of her projects, and shared with us some of her favorites.

Why Lighting?

“Lighting really has the ability to make huge transformations to a space. I think it is one of the most important aspects of my job; there is not much point to doing interior design without doing lighting. Once a client sees the right lighting in one space, they understand how important it is and almost always want to re-light the rest of their house.”

Why Lightology?

“Lightology is the best in Chicago when it comes to variety and options. Clients are always impressed when they come into the showroom, and its just a fun place to go and pick fixtures. I have worked with a lot of the staff and I’ve always had very good service.

Because you guys are always ahead of the curve, there have been a few times where I have been the first to buy a new fixture from your showroom, and clients just love knowing they have a truly unique fixture.”

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