Kelly Wearstler’s Latest Lighting Fixtures Go Digital, and Other News

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Kelly Wearstler’s new collaboration with Tech Lighting

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Kelly Wearstler’s Latest Lighting Fixtures Go Digital

“Technology is a propelling force pushing my studio to evolve in design,” Kelly Wearstler wrote on Instagram, “and advanced technology brings it to the next level.” Like much of the internet, the L.A. design doyenne has recently become fascinated by the metaverse and how the lack of consensus on its definition has made the burgeoning digital space such an exciting space to experiment within. 

So for her latest collaboration with lighting purveyors Visual Comfort, which includes four new architectural fixtures through Tech Lighting, Wearstler skipped the traditional photoshoot and rendered each offering in an otherworldly digital environment that combines two of her biggest passions. “The inherently distinct meeting of form and function in a light renders it as one of my favorite objects to design,” Wearstler continues. And it looks like she enjoyed bringing her ideas to life—no small feat in the relatively unadventurous field of architectural lighting.

Each fixture, from the cylindrical Phobos to the pared-down Esfera, forges an architectural presence through slim profiles, advanced LED technologies, and the use of such soulful metals as natural brass, copper, and antique nickel. A series of wall-mounted Kulma sconces, which evoke indoor-outdoor lanterns through planar elements of glass and frame, looks perfectly at home within a mystical, corridor-like setting of lush greenery and indoor pools of water. And the warm LEDs emitting from the domed-glass prisms of Ebell pendants, flush mounts, wall sconces, and floor lamps cast a gentle glow throughout a wintry interior completely clad in giant checked shades of light blue marble.

Kengo Kuma’s winning proposal for the Galiasgar Kamal Theatre in Kazan, Russia

Kengo Kuma wins the competition to redesign the Kamal Theater in Kazan, Russia. 

In Russia, one of Tatarstan’s oldest national theaters will soon look much different thanks to Kengo Kuma. The prolific Japanese architect recently won the commission to redesign the Galiasgar Kamal Theatre, which has long been defined by its “interpretations of Tatar art, its rich repertoire, and the use of different techniques and Tatar language.” Kuma delivered an origami-like building inspired by “ice flowers” on the nearby Kaban lake and whose brightly ornamented interior paneling nods to traditional Tatar crafts. The building is slated for construction in 2025.

Virgin Hyperloop lays off half its workforce and announces a pivot to cargo shipments.

The Virgin Hyperloop as we once knew it may never come to be. Last week, the company laid off half of its workforce—111 employees in total—and announced a pivot to cargo delivery. Previously, the Richard Branson–backed venture was developing a futuristic pod that claimed to ferry passengers at 670 miles per hour. According to the company, the sudden pivot stems from supply chain woes and pandemic-induced economic changes that forced the company to reevaluate its original mission. At least Virgin Galactic can still ferry us into space one day.

Michael Graves Design and CVS collaborate on a line of home health care products.

The design and accessibility of home health care products is crucial yet often overlooked—a trend that CVS Pharmacy and Michael Graves Design are seeking to address with a new direct-to-market line of home health care products. The collection builds on the inclusive design legacy championed by the late Graves, who became a steadfast advocate of accessible design in the final decade of his life and career. The initial round of products, which is available for purchase in stores and online now, focuses on bathroom safety and mobility aids, including a foldable crane, shower chair, 3-in-1 commode, and raised toilet seats. 

Zhujiajiao Tourist Center in Shanghai

Wuyang Architecture adds a dramatic timber structure atop a Shanghai visitor center.

The past and future are colliding at the Zhujiajiao Tourist Center, which is located within a historical conservation area in Shanghai’s Qingpu District. The structure, designed by Wuyang Architecture, features an overhanging gabled timber volume dramatically nestled atop a relatively nondescript glass-clad building on the ground level. The timber structure pays homage to the dated wooden buildings found throughout Zhujiajiao Old Town, which are largely being replaced by rapid development. 

The Bronx Hall of Justice, designed by Rafael Viñoly Architects, is quickly falling apart. 

The Bronx Hall of Justice is in a state of disrepair. Reports show that New York’s bigger courthouse, sheathed in glass and housing nearly four dozen courtrooms, has been plagued by cost overruns and has required constant repair since opening in 2008. Designed by Rafael Viñoly Architects, the building has suffered from collapsing floors, lower-level floods, and shattering exterior glass windows. “We bought a Maserati and we got a Volkswagen—and not even a new one,” a former official involved in addressing the building’s structural woes told THE CITY. “It was supposed to be the jewel of all courthouses in the state and in the nation.” The disrepair has kept six lower-level courtrooms almost completely out of use, snagging the busy calendar of hearings and trials just as in-person sessions have made a return.

“Snow Monsters” in Yamagata Japan. Photography by Matt Roberts/Getty Images

Today’s attractive distractions:

New research shows that fish make hums and squeaks to talk about sex and food.

This MTA campaign has been creating its own cinematic universe on the subway.

Part of Florida’s Seven Mile Bridge is being transformed into a tropical High Line.

A fleeting sea of “snow monsters” is taking over a volcanic mountainside in Japan.

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