In 2011, Juniper founder Shant Madjarian impulsively left a 15-year Wall Street career to, in his words, “build something meaningful.” Propelled by an entrepreneurial spirit and dose of naive confidence, he set up an office in his bedroom and set out to question all received wisdom about how lighting should look and work. His results continue to shatter the field’s norms.
Combining purpose, craftsmanship, materiality, and advanced technology, Juniper’s offerings blur lighting typologies and push the boundaries of sustainability. And most surprising? They are precise enough for architectural applications, yet elegant enough for high-end residential use.
Below, Madjarian shares his design process, engineering insights, and how his fixtures honor a space rather than steal the spotlight.
What is your design process?
It starts with an opportunity, which usually entails making a big bet. Lighting is an old industry that often operates on commonly held beliefs. This makes it a great space in which to challenge the status quo. We start with seeking points of customer and user discontent. Then we search for valid reasons why the market has not addressed those points.
In this way, the design process starts with solution design, followed by system design. Product design follows when we are ready to tell the visual story.
What is an example of that?
Our Multiverse system. It began with the refrain that track lighting is unsightly and the last resort for illumination. Fundamentally, track lighting need not be unsightly: Its current form factor was derived from a now-antiquated electrical constraint. Yet, that very form factor persisted long after that constraint was eliminated with the introduction of safe, low-voltage DC power.
We took this opportunity to erase all precedents to design what track lighting would have looked like should that electrical constraint never existed. The result was a graphical power distribution interface akin to high-quality architectural trim. It enhances a space visually even when not used to mount light fixtures. Turning a constraint into a strength is our design process.
What role does sustainability play in your designs?
Our design philosophy is based on reduction. We hold the crown for the thinnest LED linear light module on the market, and our collapsible magnetic system of parts ship disassembled in compact packages. An entire large-scale project can be delivered in just a few boxes.
Our new packaging system employs 100% recycled and recyclable and/or compostable materials. We have also devised a nesting system that allows us to package more items in a single box without compromising product safety.
Are you experimenting with any new materials or technologies?
We are currently exploring new manufacturing methods and materials such as biodegradable PHA 3D printed plastics, as well as a universal and replaceable LED light module that we refer to as JULE (The Juniper Universal Light Engine). By separating the light engine from the body of the lamp, we regain the one single environmental benefit of the traditional lightbulb that was tossed with the transition to the embedded LED light fixture. A prototype of the JULE will be on display at ICFF.
What else are you working on now?
We are moving away from closed-loop product launches and developing a system approach to lighting. Our Multiverse low-voltage power distribution system (which we call The Grid) can distributing power through a 7mm low-profile paintable decorative trim. Once the space is gridded with this trim, a user can position and reposition lighting in a space.
The universal JULE LED module we are developing will expand the options of lighting fixtures customers can use on the Grid. In the future, we also are looking to open the Grid to other manufacturers so they can offer their existing fixtures or design new fixtures for use with Multiverse.
Anything more to add?
Also organic to the Grid is a wireless lighting control system. At ICFF, we will show how each light fixture can be adapted with an internal Bluetooth wireless mesh module. This collaboration with Canvas lighting control systems will demonstrate our holistic approach to radical optionality and our vision to overhaul the way lighting is made, specified, and used.