Company: VITA Lighting
Interesting Fact: Before he founded VITA, Søren Ravn Christensen designed the interiors of restaurants and nightclubs. In 2010, He made his first major splash in the lighting business with the iconic Silvia lamp.
Søren Ravn Christensen has spent most of his life trying to make things easier. He’s not lazy by any stretch. As the founder and creative mind behind VITA Lighting, he keeps himself plenty busy. But his goal is to make life easier for the people who purchase his lighting. He believes lighting your home should be an easy-to-understand and fun experience. Light brings life to your home, and shouldn’t be something you spend a lot of your life fretting about. His goal is to make things as simple as possible, and in that simplicity is immense beauty. It’s this philosophy that has helped him establish his company as a worldwide player in the lighting industry. There’s always room to let more light in, and Søren Ravn Christensen is happy to show people a new way to light their space. Checking in from Copenhagen, he took a moment to share some of his background and design philosophy with us.
Q- What are you working on right now?
A- We’re introducing two new lamp families made of glass and silicon respectively. Of course, we’re also rounding up a long season of branding VITA in Europe.
Q- OK, let’s start at the beginning then. Why lighting? What brought you into this world of illumination?
A- Two things. One was my father who, back in the ’70s, had a company which specialized in flat-packed plastic lamps – keep in mind that the ‘70s were the beginning of the plastic era. Secondly, my uncle once had two lighting stores, and he always said “50% of any interior design is lighting.” They were my inspiration.
Q- What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the lighting industry since you started? And when did you notice that change?
A- The introduction of LED and the environmental take on producing and designing lights has been so forceful in a way I didn’t see it coming at first.
Q- How has LED changed the way you design?
A- First of all, LEDs make the concept of flat packing easier, but our choice of materials has also changed due to the introduction of LEDs. Things like heat emission have changed. Particularly from old incandescent light bulbs – it now makes sense to design shades without holes for ventilation. You can also use different materials that have less heat resistance in them than what you had to use in the past. Secondly, you can now have only one “color” for you designs – white – as many LEDs have the added feature of changing color. This creates a whole new world of opportunities.
Q- OK, we asked you to look back. Now, let’s look forward a bit. What’s the next big thing in lighting and lighting design?
A- The next big thing in lighting is already happening – it’s the internet of things, the interactive possibility for consumers to control their lights with apps or other electronic devices. I also firmly believe that we will see many more battery charged or solar powered lights for both indoors and outdoors purposes, in the future, as the technology improves.
Q- What makes you tick?
A- Doing what no one has done before – disrupting the beaten road of traditional product development.
Q- So your title is founder and chief creative developer? What’s the toughest part about having both of those titles? Does the business side ever interrupt the creative side, or the other way around?
A- All the time, but that actually makes my creative line of work so much more appealing and, in the end, productive too.
Q- What’s the biggest mistake people make with their lighting choices?
A- It is not really the mistake of the end consumer; it is much more the mistake of the lighting designers and the people communicating the design. At VITA we spend a vast part of our time visualizing how our products could and should look in any given environment. It is a huge problem in the lighting retail industry to make it easy for the customers to understand how a particular design will fit and look in their home. The retailers often line up several different designs together in larger or smaller clusters, making it impossible for any normal person to see what is right or wrong for their home. This is why our app, “VITA Unfold at Home” is such a great tool.
Q- Give us three big but often forgotten things to keep in mind as we look for lighting?
A- The design should look good turned on as well as turned off. Another thing is that people often forget the importance of accessories, like a red textile cord rather than an ordinary white plastic one. Finally, one of the biggest mistakes out there is putting up direct light sources in the ceiling for the sole purpose of lighting the room, but forgetting that it should also be comfortable staying there.
Q- We saw online that you’re heavily influenced by Denmark, your home. Can you tell us what you love about Denmark and how that influence shapes you day to day?
A- Keep it simple. Always try to make designs even simpler. By making them simpler, you save costs of production, transportation and ultimately you prolong the life cycle of the product, making it timeless.
Q- Do people look for different things in lighting in Europe as opposed to the U.S.?
A- Yes, they do. The markets are different, so are their needs and desires. The Scandinavian influence, with simple, minimalist and functional decors, is much more present in the European market. The sought-after interior designs, including lighting designs, are open, calm, inviting. The focus is not on heavy decorative elements, but on a subtle fusion of aesthetics, simplicity and functionality.
Q- VITA is Latin for life. We assume that’s where the name for you company came from. Correct us if we’re wrong. If it is, can you talk about life and light and why they’re so related?
A- Light is essential to life – the concept of light and life is so broad that we could talk hours about it, but this relationship sums it up.
Q- A big part of your branding is how things are packaged and the positive impact your shipping techniques have on the environment. Why is that so important to you? And has that always been a big issue for you or have you evolved over time?
A- The VITA concept of compact packaging derives from saving costs on the actual packaging, transportation, storage, and of course saving the environment by considerably lowering the CO2 emissions. From the very beginning we were inspired by the success of my father’s philosophy of flat packaging, so it was only natural to pursue this path with its many obvious advantages. On a final note, having this concept deeply embedded in our corporate DNA ensures that we always keep this focus during the product development cycle, so the final designs remain true to our values.
Q- Simplicity – it’s a value and it’s a big part of your company brand. People often have a hard time understanding why simplicity is so good, in concept. How would you help someone understand the benefit of simplicity?
A- Simplicity in its own right makes things appear and seem easy and straightforward. So for the end consumer – simple product designs make their lives easier, when trying their best to do interior decorating with a single lamp in their own home. The simple yet timeless designs and shapes fit many decors and cultural settings out there than one would usually find.
Simplicity in the decision making process of the end consumers – VITA’s flexible fixtures can be used for many different purposes and in many different positions such as either a pendant, a floor or even as a table lamp.
Simplicity because we always try our best not to make our products more complex than needed and often in this process accomplishing another goal of ours – value for money!
Q- Your early background is in designing bars and restaurants. How has that translated to designing for homeowners?
A- When entering a public place like a restaurant, bar or nightclub, it is vital that the guests feel welcome and at ease with, among others, the surrounding interior. It is the same need that end consumers have for their homes.
Q- What would you be doing if this wasn’t it?
A- The common denominator is any possible concept suited for products within design or architecture where improvements can be made.