“Making a pendant in wood is not that common,” notes Jakob Mernøe, describing the elegantly carved pieces imagined by his father, Morten Mernøe. However, taking the path less trodden, is “the thread that runs through everything we do because the company is guided only by the three of us – by our intuition and conversations.”
From its Copenhagen studio, the family behind Mernøe works to produce lamps and light fixtures that use wood in unexpected and unconventional ways, forming the shade, rather than the stand, stem or structure. Designed by Morten – who works in collaboration with his two sons, Ulrik and Jakob – the designs are based on the interplay between wood and LEDs, which creates a pleasingly warm and atmospheric mood – light that is glowing not garish.
“Wood bends and absorbs light”, notes Morten, whose first foray into lighting design was led by his search for a light to go above his own dining room table – a lamp “that would allow everyone to see each other, but that didn’t light up the whole room.” His solution was a custom-built piece that still hangs in his home – and which became the prototype for the brand’s first offering.
Aptly named ‘No.1’, the lamp is crafted in mahogany and accented with brass. Seamlessly marrying the two materials into a single, handsome piece of design, its smooth, aerodynamic profile is somewhat reminiscent of the hull of a boat. The soft, rounded edges and large flat surfaces reveal the elaborate grain and patterning of the wood, and the flecks of brass are sleek, elongated forms that narrow and taper. Using wood in this way has created a number of challenges, for example – how does one transform weighty materials, such as mahogany and brass, into designs that have a true sense of levity. “Typically, you will have very heavy constructions made using these materials, but a lamp should be light, it should feel like it’s flying, and so I had to challenge the wood a little bit – and the carpenter – to get the thickness down, to make it lighter and lighter…”