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August de Wet’s “BEAM” light took top honours in the Industrial Design category of the 2015/2016 PPC Imaginarium Awards. We asked him to shed some light on his winning work…


Beaming Brilliant!

A design that left the judging panel wowed, August de Wet’s BEAM light takes its cue from the Eddystone Lighthouse, a landmark structure that pioneered the use of concrete for construction purposes. His lamp fuses the ephemeral qualities of light with concrete’s solidity. The judges not only found de Wet’s handling of the medium impressive, but also loved the market-ready appeal of the product, which can be used indoors and outdoors! Here’s what he had to say about it:


Do you find the medium of cement inspirational?

It’s incredibly versatile and one can shape and mould it into any shape or form. The imperfections of the surface make for a very tactile finish that lends the casting its own character. Once it has hardened, it is solid and impermeable – an interesting and challenging material to work with in the context of lighting.


Did you encounter any challenges whilst working on your submission?

Many! Coming up with an idea that had meaning took a lot of investigating and prototyping, testing how the material behaves and interacts with light as well as what doesn’t work. Once I had a concept, the challenges of making the pattern and then the mould forced me deal to with new materials such as Plaster of Paris and fibreglass - this introduced a level of uncertainty.

I also had to develop a cement mix that worked for this casting, providing workability, strength and surface finish. I had to do quite a few castings to get to this point. To engineer a seemingly simple object like this is always hard work because the outcome needs to look effortless. The placement of the lamp and how that connects to the rotating base was really tricky.

What inspires you about South Africa and what are your thoughts on the South African creative scene?

It has definitely grown in the past ten years into a small industry. The fact that a few designers are exporting their products is testament to our local talent. A big part of this growth should be credited to companies and organisations that promote and foster designers – Design Indaba, Southern Guild and of course this competition, these have really contributed to this progress.

Beam Light

Who are the designers that have had a strong influence on your work?

I wouldn’t say strong influence but these people have definitely inspired me (in no particular order):

Rick Joy, Steven Holl, Alvaro Siza, Tokujin Yoshioka, Sou Fujimoto, John Pawson, Constantin Grcic, Naoto Fukasawa, James Turrell, Donald Judd, Achille Castiglioni, Ingo Maurer, Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, Peter Zumthor and Nendo.

What plans do you have for the future and how to you intend on using your prize money?

I’d really like to develop this product and have it manufactured. I’d like to see it out there. So the prize money will go towards that process.

Find out more about August’s work.

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