Brandon Morrison: I always say about my work that, even though it’s attributed to me, it doesn’t belong to me. I moved to Los Angeles to be an actor, but life was pushing me in a different direction. That’s how I found my ability to bring forms to life. Lighting has always appealed to me on an emotional level. When I walk into a space that’s lit well, it affects me. My very first inspiration came from an old bushel basket on the shelf of a hardware store. The late evening sun was coming through the windows, light transferring through the wood. I had a flash of genius, if you will. If I got a 200W bulb and mounted it with conduit inside, I’d make a light fixture. That started me on my path of thinking about what’s unique, powerful and simple.
Literally, every single thing I interact with influences how I design. I was flipping through a magazine one day and there was a picture of an almost-cartoonish skeleton. The way the collarbones interacted with the breastbone and shoulder sockets gave me inspiration to create a lamp with four legs and a center post.
The owner of a West Hollywood store once put my pieces in his showroom without charging a commission. For one display, I needed a wood arm to come out from the wall to hang a fixture. The arm needed a gradual arch. Well, I’d been trying to come up with a tall, arched floor lamp, something nice and not too ornate. One day in my shop, I saw that same wood arm sitting upright, instead of jutting outward. I thought: “There’s my lamp.” Glass Series No. 8 [shown, along with the Wood Series No. 6 pendant] was the result. It’s my bestseller.
I’m ignorant of the concept that form follows function. Some people love the shape of a lamp, but want it beside a nice lounge chair for reading. I can put on a white silk shantung shade, and it throws out beautiful, natural light. So, I can give people outstanding forms without sacrificing function.
Honestly, I don’t identify myself as a woodworker or designer. For me, it’s about what works. If it comes as a flash of inspiration and I live with it long enough, it starts to feel natural. I invest time to make it. But as for the inspiration — there’s no way I claim ownership of that. Designs are only realized through me. I don’t think it’s genuine to claim ownership of inspiration. You have to give credit to the spirit of life.