Danish artisan Tom Rossau takes raw panels of birch veneer, one-and-a-half meters square, then cuts them into strips – and turns them into lampshades.
It’s a meticulous business.
“There are tiny differences from one to the next and they behave slightly different one to the next,” he says. “The challenge is to get it to respond in the same way – I go through each strip to see which will work best.”
His work is now being introduced to the North American market by Global Lighting, with 15 new lights, designed and manufactured by Rossau in Copenhagen. In addition to birch, Rossau envelopes LED or fluorescent bulbs in oak, Bolivar, Zebrano, brushed aluminum, polypropylene, and coated paper. The two dimensional materials are bent, twisted and pleated to create pendants, floor lamps and table lamps.
He seeks a sculptural solution for each shade – one that’s driven by the nature of the wood veneer itself. “Through the wood, I’m able to achieve a warm and soothing light regardless of the type of light bulb you use,” he says. “LED is quite nice, but even the horrific fluorescent looked good – it had a very green, blue or purple color reflection, and with the veneer shade you still get a soothing, warm light from the lampshade regardless.”
Self-taught, he was born and raised in Denmark, with the material-based principles of Danish design woven into his upbringing. “My approach to the design process is a question of curiosity, and investigating specific materials and finding out their characteristics – to take a material used in one category and build lights out of it,” he says. “This wood is called airplane – it’s used to build model airplanes.”
But now, it finds new use – and a higher purpose.
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