Brand Spotlight 

Pablo: High-Performance, High Style

In 1993, Venezuelan-born Pablo Pardo, an alum of the University of Cincinnati’s industrial design program, founded the lighting company Pablo. Piccola, a whimsical, tilted leather-based table lamp, was the first product he turned out in his San Francisco studio, setting the standard for future collections. Today, recent launches like Bola, a family of lamps melding blown-glass globes with shades fashioned from chromatic discs or felt that call to mind glamorous women’s hats, continue to embody Pardo’s “less is more” philosophy. Here, he shares some insight into his creative process.

How would you describe your aesthetic? Which materials do you like working with most?

I prefer a more human-centered design approach that allows form and function to work harmoniously, one with the other. It’s essential that the object represents its true purpose, which is to be a vessel for the light it delivers and that it complements the space it inhabits. I prefer working with materials that are natural and familiar. There’s something magical about the richness and tactile qualities of wood or woven textiles that fold or bend to form natural envelopes for diffusing light, or formed metal that provides both structure as well as a reflective surface for light. 

For the nearly 30 years you’ve run your business how do you think you’ve evolved?

It’s been a fascinating journey of experimentation and learning. The work has matured technically, has expanded across many lighting categories, and has found a confident voice that celebrates simplicity of design with a functional purpose. We’re super passionate about being at the edge of technology while creating designs that stand the test of time. Ninety percent of those we’ve ever launched remain in production. 

Are there any significant trends that have impacted your brand’s growth?

There’s been a major technology shift to LEDs over the last 12 to 15 years, which has revolutionized the lighting industry. In 2007 we introduced Brazo, an award-winning, high-performance LED task light. Other important early ambient collections are Cortina, Elise, and Tube Top, which have become staples in our line-up. Long life is an important goal for us as this provides more sustainability in the long run.  

What is one of your biggest concerns regarding the COVID-19 crisis?

The safety and health of our families and friends are top of mind. We remain hopeful that we will all get through this soon but fully expect the world will not be the same afterwards. Our mission as designers is reinforcing the importance of reconnecting with nature and our humanity, and how we can work even more diligently to minimize our footprint while maximizing our opportunity to elevate experiences.

What are you working on now? What did you plan to reveal at ICFF 2020?

Our aim this year is multi-faceted, from exploring portable/rechargeable lighting space with Candel, to multi-tasking table lights that integrate seamlessly into our workstations to become resting places for our mobile devices as with Talia and Tile. We are also introducing Sky, an exciting modular uplight/downlight pendant system that offers both acoustic and decorative shade solutions for living and work spaces and features multiple shade designs and material choices all sharing a common lighting platform. The line will be launched later in the fall at this year’s Light + Building fair in Frankfurt and includes six experiential sculptural and multi-functional lights that are designed from the inside out, made to instantaneously engage the user by combining function with a sense of play.

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