Sebastian Summa designs lights with DCW éditions

Et still exists, the idyll in Berlin. For example in Weißensee in the northeast of the city. Turn twice from the tram stop and suddenly there are red brick houses with green roofs to the left and right of the street, behind them taller buildings and a chimney. Every few meters, a driveway gives a clear view of old cars, rubbish containers, plastic chairs, stacks of material, plant pots. The Ruthenbergsche Höfe are a relic of the industrial age that, thanks to a sensible owner, was saved from the greed of the real estate market. Car repair shops, handicraft businesses, artists’ studios: In the commercial district it is easy to observe what a lively mix moderate rents create.

Sebastian Summa also enjoys the post-industrial idyll. The designer has set up shop with two colleagues in one of the little houses, with a workshop on the ground floor and offices in the attic. Tomatoes are growing in pots in front of the door, and Josh the cat checks in between. “There’s something very special here,” says the forty-nine-year-old. “The free spaces!”

Here Summa has the rest he needs. Because in order to find the right form for his designs, he has to keep them in mind for a long time. The product designer and trained blacksmith looks at the various prototypes over and over again until he is certain which form is the best. “I found that as a method for myself.”

Anything but improvised

This is also the case with the large lamp that hangs in the workshop. A bundle of ten fluorescent tubes, casually placed in two metal rings, floating under the ceiling. The French lighting brand DCW éditions has just launched the lamp under the name NL12. Here in the workshop, in front of unplastered walls, it perhaps comes into its own: more of a spontaneous gesture than a sophisticated product. The way the glass tubes are loosely stacked on top of each other seems almost improvised.


The NL12 lamp is Sebastian Summa’s second collaboration with the Parisian brand DCW éditions.
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Image: Photo Jules Villbrandt / Anne Schütz

Of course, the casual gesture is anything but improvised, it is actually quite sophisticated: Summa, together with the engineers from DCW éditions, developed a construction made of mirrored panes so that the tube bundle works as a light. They hold the tubes together securely and almost invisibly. The current is also guided invisibly through the steel rings of the suspension. The bulb is in the middle tube, the others only scatter the light. “At first glance, they all seem to glow,” says Summa. “It’s a little built-in surprise. I like that kind of thing.”

Sebastian Summa's older design Org is the forerunner of the NL12.


Sebastian Summa’s older design Org is the forerunner of the NL12.
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Image: Photo Jules Villbrandt / Anne Schütz

The company DCW éditions, which is best known for its lamps by Bernard-Albin Gras and Bernard Scotlander, came across Summa by chance. DCW founder Frédéric Winkler discovered one of his lights in photos of an interior – and immediately wanted to produce it. The collaboration began with the model called Org – a concept related to NL12.

The next joint lamp is expected to come onto the market at the end of 2023. Plaster models of the new design stand on the sheet metal cabinet in the Berlin workshop. Large, bulbous objects, examined by Summa again and again. “I spent a long time working on the radii, changing the dimensions,” he says. But now he has found the perfect version. She, too, can be released from the idyll into the world.

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