Marivi Calvo and Sandro Tothill are the business partners and couple behind the devilish Valencian lighting brand LZF (formerly known as Luzifer). Earlier this month I was lucky enough to spend an evening with them and their team during the Red AEDE press tour of Spain, chatting about design and life over wine and paella whilst sitting under a canopy of their beautiful wooden lights! I thought it would be nice to share some shots of their crazy, awesome studio and the magical outdoor setting that they created…
Marivi Calvo and Sandro Tothill
First, a bit of background. The LZF story began in 1994 in Valencia, when Australian Sandro and Spanish Marivi began making lamps by hand using sheets of wood veneer. This thin, pliable material allows them to create beautiful sculptural shapes, as they can curve and twist the sheets into various curved forms without breaking them. These sheets also interact really well with the light, as they are thin enough to allow some light to pass through the wood, which can result in two very different colours and effects when the lamp is switched on or switched off. Sandro calls the material “anarchic” as it pushes back as you bend it into shape – it’s a nice adjective and seems fitting with the brand’s original name, Luzifer.
The name came from a brainstorming session between three people: Sandro, Marivi and a friend of theirs. The friend was doodling logo ideas to help with inspiration, but kept drifting into drawing designs featuring cherubs. Sandro said to her “oh come on, we’re not having bloody angels on our logo.” Later that night over a few drinks it became a running joke, with the cherub eventually being defaced with a pair of horns and a tail. It’s from here that the brand’s original name sprang – Luzifer. When they began to roll the word around as a possible contender they realised how perfect it was: luz means ‘light’ in Spanish and fer means ‘make’ in Catalan. Later down the line a legal dispute with a similarly named lighting company meant they had to rebrand as LZF, but the devilish spirit of the original name is preserved in their logo in the form of two red horns, made from a pair of apostrophes.
The main reception room of LZF’s studio
When we arrived Sandro and Marivi took us on a guided tour through the labyrinth that is their studio. This maze of interconnecting stairwells, rooms, platforms and cubbyholes is truly fascinating to walk through, and gives you a great insight into the history and inner workings of the company. It reminded me of the film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, because every room seemed to have a different theme: from music videos starring their lamps, to an enormous wood veneer chandelier decorated with gold hummingbirds, to a room filled almost entirely with life-size and miniature wooden animals. Every time we moved to a new room I was surprised all over again. Sandro explained to us that there are dedicated spaces here used to design, prototype, manufacture, pack and ship all of their lamps, so the entirety of the business really does operate out of just this one building.
After our walk through the studio we had the privilege of joining the LZF family for an evening of food, chatter and laughter in their garden. The set up was nothing short of spectacular: a huge square table under an array of their Swirl and Escape pendant lamps; an outdoor cinema for watching some short films about their projects; a temporary cheese and charcuterie stand for tasting the delicacies of the local market; a well stocked bar with open fires for cooking our enormous pans of paella; and several softly-lit chill-out zones for relaxing over a cocktail and a chat. Sandro played it down (“oh, it didn’t take that long, most of the wiring was out here already”) but it was easy to see that a lot of thought and care had been put into setting it up. I’ll leave you with a few more of my favourite photos from the evening, which were taken (as were the above) by Maria Mira.
This post is part of a series on Spanish design here on Decorenvy, following the Sunny Design Days blogtour to Barcelona, Valencia and Madrid. You can find more posts from this trip under the tag #sunnydesign.