Why the 52 in 52 for 2015 Has Stalled and How it can be Re-Energized

Posted: August 19, 2015 in 52 in 52 2015, YOL 2015

When I plunged into 2015 embracing another round of 52 Designs in 52 Weeks to celebrate the Year of Light, I had a dream that perhaps this time I might enjoy the company of others wanting to play along. But, as Einstein is quoted as saying… Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result each time. The first 15 weeks of 2015 started off exactly as 2010 – 15 designs completed and posted… with modest response.  That makes staying on top of the project very difficult indeed, and has led to a loss of momentum. I thoroughly enjoy the design and product making process, but am loath to pursue the work as a totally solo act.

Here’s a little insight into why this round has been harder to sustain, and why it took 5 years to attempt another 52 in 52 project.

2010 was a very long and hard process, with all of the finished products being created primarily from air (excepting a few which were commissioned by customers.) The costs of that years work were significant, all coming from of my firms (Lumenique, LLC) revenues. Yet, while there were some very nice compliments paid for many of the designs (thanks again to those who expressed positive encouragement), and recognition of the effort from a wider audience than I had originally thought… their was little or no actual tangible return. The effort was pursued purely out of enthusiasm for lighting and SSL technology.

I recognized the designs presented in 2010 were not mass appeal type products. They were, by design, intended to be fun, whimsical, unique, esoteric, bespoke, one-of-a-kind, and different. This allowed me to expose ideas and uses of SSL without concern for being in conflict with customers (who, for obvious reasons, would not want me to expose work we were doing in the open, and I being not intent on coupling the project with marketing and PR campaigns), and avoid having designs simply knocked off and put into production. But, I did feel that there were several nice gadgets I thought individuals might like for themselves, who would inquire as to how one might acquire one for their own space. While there were a few that found homes with those whose components were included, like the good folks at White Optics, Molex, and LynkLabs… A few were actual customer projects presented with permission, and there were several that did indeed find homes in others lives. The rest were either put into use here at my office/home, given away as gifts, or cannibalized for parts over the last few years.

Had anyone at the time asked me to create something for them, a desk lamp, a wall sconce, a pendant or sculpture incorporating solid-state lighting effects or sources, I would have welcomed to request as a relief from having to be the sole author of that weeks presentation/release. What made 2010 so rough, and ultimately so draining, was not the effort of creating 52 fixtures – I love making things, and one fixture in a week is not a significant effort with the tools I have available – it was having to also come up with the idea for the design, the design itself – then create it and finance its production – all while satisfying customers demands, attending Light+Build, plus Lightfair projects, and making several presentations around the country on the topic of solid-state lighting.

2015 a New Start?

For 2015, I began with projects that I needed to address and experiment with in-house. This meant I would be putting each of them to use and could rationalize the time and expense. Perhaps, I thought, others might see this and put in a request for things they might want and the remainder of the year would be guided by a combination of my own needs and ideas, the ideas and needs of others, and a few customer projects along the way to add some practical spice. Unfortunately, one of the initial 15 was a customer project, which was pulled off the site by request. Then, I simply have run out of in-house needs to be filled. I’ve been making solid-state gadgets, art, lights, etc… for 11 years now, and non-SSL for another 20 before that, so there are few areas in my personal surroundings that have not already been saturated by past and present creations. In other words, with no demand to fill otherwise, my motivation to clutter more table space with homeless products is low, and inspiration to explore artistic expression at risk of silent rejection lower still. Thus, the 52 in 52 for 2015 project has stalled. I have a few upcoming bits to present, but they are again projects to solve my own personal problems.

So, that all in the air… Here is what I am putting on offer.

If anyone has something they would like to see made, a need filled, or an idea they would like to see expressed… I am formally offering to make that a part of the 52 in 52 for 2015 project.

I do ask only that a portion of the costs are covered in some way. Donation of parts, a token payment to cover material cost, a trade in kind for something I might want or need… with the company of others interested in participating that will ultimately take possession of the end product – put it to work, or just give it a home. I will retain the right to adjust the proposal/request to suit capabilities, time available, costs involved, and will retain part ownership of the final product in proportion to how much participation is involved from those interested. I really want to hear from those who have ideas they’d like to see materialize. All participants will be given due credit in the posting of the project. Keep in mind time constraints limit interaction time, so we’ll need to be brief in getting from concept to reality. It’s an exhilarating process for those brave enough to jump in.

Together, we can catch up and finish the year off with 52 products presented here for others to enjoy. You can contact me via email, or by responding to this post as a comment, or calling me. Contact information is all HERE

Update December 2015:

I decided to abandon the 52/52 project several months ago. I’ve re-titled the blog entries as ‘YOL 2015’, as they are still part of the work of the Year of Light. The lack of interest in this project was a little disappointing,  but understand that there really is no point to it for anyone but myself. With that, we did some sole searching and considering the costs and time involved, decided to focus in stead on updating our facilities and setting the stage to deploy a more product focused effort heading into 2016. This culminated in the 52/52 project being displaced as a priority, and our finally moving from our cramped and dysfunctional home office into a commercial space with room to move and create. It’s a little embarrassing to start something and not finish it.  However, it is what it is, and I own it. Looking forward, we are now ready to do much more than ever, and anxious to get started on a brand new year! Cheers!

  1. Lee Kirby says:

    Kevin – Here’s an official “cheering you on” post! I know I certainly enjoyed your “52 in 52” project, and in fact, I’ve saved all these posts in an email folder. As for ideas, well, I’m a salesman, not an idea man! But I want to encourage you and express my support.

    • Kevin, I too savor the arrival of your lighting explorations. A creative oasis in sands that seem to shift too slowly. I also clip all your SSL Observed pieces because of your in-depth thinking about lighting in our culture AND the evolving culture of the industry. I viewed the “52” with jealousy for your unbounded creativity and endurance. You have earned great respect and you’re smart to downshift and seek participation. It expands the creative knowledge network.

      A few weeks ago an allied journal posted: “Where are all the new classic luminaires? Has lighting run out of ideas.” You have touched on this subject and I have dabbled. An Artichoke lamp or any decorative MOMA-grade floor or table lamp is perhaps a poor basis for suggesting that SSL designs are lackluster or slow to evolve. Troffer, highbay, and track are “workhorse” sources. Outdoor is too, however, but many more eye-catching designs for mixed-use urban environments are popping up in this category. There is much that can be said about this….later.

      Keep up the crusade. I’ll keep in touch with some ideas. I hope your last post shakes a bit more fruit out of the forest of great minds in the lighting industry. There is clearly no shortage of talent. The techno-aesthetic-design tipping point is on the cusp. We’ll fully cut the tether and shuffle off our historical connection to the ho-hum wrap around socket and axial lamp. Thanks for all your efforts.

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