Meet award winning lighting designer Duncan Ward - Satelight

We sat down to talk with Melbourne based, award winning, super talented Design Director of Satelight, Duncan Ward to find out what drives his creativity and design.

We found out how Satelight came to be, the path that lead Ducan there and what he sees as the meaning of light.  Want to find out what we learned? 

Continue reading below...

Duncan has always had a creative interest, which seemed to be linked in with various forms of light. 

As a child, he grew up in the cinema industry, giving him great exposure to motion and light.  Duncan remembers visiting film sets while his parents worked, taking in the cameras and action, and marvelling in the theatrics and stories.  In his early career, he worked as a practicing artist embracing sculpture, and then on sets as a photographer and set designer, collaborating with international artists.

Then in 1998, he started Satelight Design as a vehicle to design and create with a focus on the commercial realm.  Starting off as a multidisciplinary design studio, Satelight not only produced lighting, but jewellery and also home-wares.  Early into the venture, Duncan realised the power of illumination and how it affects people within a space.  So he decided to focus in on creating unique, feature lighting designs for commercial projects - servicing the architecture and design market.

What is the trickiest part of designing a beautiful light fitting?

Trying to get the form and function to cooperate into an unified design. I always remember that the fixture has a functionality, it is more than a sculpture hanging in a space and must deliver on what it is designed to do. I also want to make fittings which look great in the future, this means considering how it will be maintained and future proofing it as best as possible.

How long does it take for you from concept to prototype to functioning light?

Each light is different and brings it own unique challenges. On occasion, I have woken in the middle of the night with an idea and by midday I have a working prototype. However, this is a rare beast. I tend to find that once the collaboration process begins, it can take 3 to 4 months to get to a prototype and to carry this through to a finished design. Setting up tooling can also add many more months.

The grandest location one of your lights is hanging in?

Satelight fittings have seen many diverse locations around the world. Once of the grandest to date is the Etihad Museum in Dubai.

The most modest/simplest

I think the most modest is my backyard shed / studio, I always love the contrast between the multitude of spaces and have effective simple lighting can be.

Epworth Health Geelong

Thinking about light – do you have a favourite effect that either you, or light in general creates?

I love laying in bed and seeing the light from car headlights project amazing shadows of trees and objects on the wall and you have this animated play of light in the space that creates a beautiful moment.

A favourite mistake/fault in making a piece that added beauty?

I had a dome shade that once fell off the shelf and gave me the opportunity to play with it, I folded and heated and bent it into what became the Vessel pendant, I then started to play with the different metal and stuck with the amazing effects of the copper with heat to give it amazing natural colours.

Greatest frustration as a lighting designer?

Gravity - You have amazing ideas, but then gravity comes and says no I will not cooperate.

Greatest joy?

Deifying gravity - That is why I called the company Satelight Design.

Who would you most like to collaborate with to design/build a light?

I am currently collaborating with jewellery designers to develop a few new lighting pieces. I want to look at the design in a different way and have a less industrial design approach. I would also love to work with Anish Kapoor, his forms and the way he distorts space is stunning combined with the intensity of colour. Anish, please give me a call!

Where would you most like to see your work hanging?

I am going for the International Space Station as number one.  After that I would be more than happy with actually getting more of my designs at home.

 Thanks Duncan...

Satelight embodies the language of light in all its many forms.  

Creating bespoke custom lighting solutions for clients in the commercial, office and hospitality sectors, with a highly technical, end-to-end service for individual projects and briefs. They also offer a range of off-the-shelf products in modern lighting, decorative lamp shades and commercial LED light fittings for a diverse range of interiors, with an extensive range of materials, shapes and sizes from fabric, metal and timber.