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Heat by Northern: a lamp as a glowing social project


The lamp Heat by Northern is produced by imigrants

Photo: Northern

Swedish designer Johanna Forsberg describes her Heat pendant lamp as a glowing cloud of fire. The lamps are made by the still young Norwegian manufacturer Northern. But Heat is more than just a Norwegian-Swedish co-production – it is also a social project. Heat is produced in partnership with a development agency that gives asylum seekers and migrants the chance to gain training and find work by producing the lamps.

Bringing lifeless material to life in an artist’s hands – this was the basic idea that Johanna Forsberg had when she developed Heat. Each pendant lamp is hand-crafted from brass metal mesh. The hands bringing it to life are now the hands of asylum seekers and migrants. The project behind the lamps aims to stimulate creativity and foster artistic skills among socially disadvantaged groups.

Photo: Northern

It all started with Zing, a young woman from Burma who completed an internship in Forsberg’s studio some time ago. “She had a lot of potential, but unfortunately, I couldn’t offer her a job at that time,” Forsberg recalls in an interview with lighting marketplace Lampenwelt.de. So the designer decided to give her a job as soon as the opportunity presented itself. And that opportunity arose through a collaboration with Northern. Together with a social development agency, a production centre was set up in Örnsköldsvik, Forsberg’s home town on Sweden’s High Coast, with the designer herself training the staff.

Zing now heads up the production line, and Forsberg hopes that she will soon be able to delegate her training responsibilities to her former intern as well. The project has been so successful that it has already prompted the idea of expanding production and developing links to local industry so that the team can collaborate on further creative commissions. This would also mean that more work could be offered to immigrants. A very creative way of tackling some of society’s immigration problems.

Photo: Northern

Making things and implementing solutions creatively is something that has preoccupied Johanna Forsberg all her life, as she freely admits herself. Forsberg didn’t actually set out to become a designer. She wanted to develop a lamp that didn’t exist on the market. During her many years of working with iron mesh, she came up with the idea that the material would work perfectly in lighting. “The light itself would fill every tiny detail in the work with life and create an interesting contrast,” she says. While she was looking for a suitable metal to make into a “cloud of fire”, she came across brass mesh. “I made the mesh into something that looked like a cloud, and I put a bulb inside. When I switched it on, the cloud came to life in a fantastic way.” The light makes the mesh gleam. Every unevenness is reflected in the lamp itself, creating intertwining shadows on the wall. Switched on, Heat looks fiery; switched off, it resembles a cloud quietly floating by. But on or off, the lamp is always dynamic.

You will find Northern at imm cologne 2019 at Hall 3.2 | Stand F009