There is something beautifully cathartic about experiencing a creative workshop in action. Observing the dance of all the elements coming together, culminating in the finished design of an object. At Rakumba Lighting, their mantra – making beauty – lends further to the journey of all the makers of various disciplines who collaborate to realise the aesthetically beautifully and sublimely elegant portfolio of lighting products produced today.
Coming into the Rakumba workshop from a suburban Melbourne court housing a collection of industrial buildings is rather nostalgic. On arrival, there is a posy of kids circling the bowl of the court on their bikes complete with that slightly bored air radiating from them. I carefully navigate their path (they will certainly pay no heed to mine) and immediately see my destination which all but spills out to the exterior of the building. A large roller door is open to the Melbourne summer afternoon and an entire wall of skeletal lampshade frames of various sizes cover a wall. This first impression – of quantity, order, deconstruction and a sense of place and purpose – is what resonates with me and remains for the duration of my visit.
Now with 59 products in its portfolio, Rakumba Lighting began its story in 1968 when Lindsay Betts established a pottery company on the premises. The transition from ceramic lamp shades and bases to larger-scale commercial lighting paved the way for a further evolution when current director, Michael Murray, purchased the business in 2009.
The Rakumba team of today, a well-oiled machine of designers, makers and administrators, is constantly pushing the envelope of design to produce some outstanding pieces of commercial lighting that have shone (pardon the pun) both in Australia and abroad.
A recent collaboration with Rotterdam-based design duo, Studio Truly Truly, resulted in Typography. A collection of lighting that has a breadth to its assembly options and functionality that has been largely absent from a single piece of lighting until now. Still on the cusp of its potential, Typography has already been received with extensive industry acclaim since its international launch at IMM Cologne in January 2018 and in Australia at Den Fair 2018.
Typography series designed in collaboration with Studio Truly Truly. Image by Haydn Cattach.[/caption]
With its international presence, Australian design and development, and a plethora of notable collaborators (Tom Fereday, Bruce Rowe of Anchor Ceramics, Jon Goulder and many more) Rakumba brings a sensibility to design that is ultimately due to the collective depth of material knowledge and broad use of various assembly techniques, balanced by cutting edge technology and a wonderfully pragmatic yet pioneering approach to each and every design possibility. But ultimately, the enduring success of the brand comes back to their humble yet aspirational desire to make beauty.
Words by Tiffany Jade.
Special thanks to Michael and Erryn and the rest of the Rakumba team.