Sebastian Summa designs lights with DCW editions

Et still exists, the idyll in Berlin. For example in the Weißensee in the north-eastern part of the city. Turn twice from the tram stop and suddenly there are red brick houses with green roofs to the left and right of the street, behind them taller buildings and a chimney. Every few meters, a driveway provides a clear view of old cars, waste containers, plastic chairs, stacks of materials, plant pots. Ruthenbergsche Höfe is a relic of the industrial age that, thanks to a sensible owner, was saved from the greed of the real estate market. Auto repair shops, craft businesses, artist studios: in the commercial district, it is easy to see what a lively mix moderate rents create.

Sebastian Summa also enjoys the post-industrial idyll. Together with two colleagues, the designer has set up a shop in one of the small houses with a workshop on the ground floor and offices in the attic. Tomatoes grow in pots in front of the door and Josh the cat checks in between. “There is something very special here,” says the 49-year-old. “The free spaces!”

Here Summa has the rest he needs. Because in order to find the right shape for his designs, he has to keep them in mind for a long time. The product designer and trained blacksmith looks at the various prototypes over and over again until he is sure which shape is the best. “I found it as a method for myself.”

Anything but improvised

This is also the case with the large lamp that hangs in the workshop. A bundle of ten fluorescent tubes, casually placed in two metal rings, floating below the ceiling. The French lighting brand DCW éditions has just launched the lamp under the name NL12. Here in the workshop, in front of unplastered walls, it might come into its own: more of a spontaneous gesture than a sophisticated product. The way the glass tubes are loosely stacked on top of each other seems almost improvised.


The NL12 lamp is Sebastian Summa’s second collaboration with the Parisian brand DCW éditions.
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Image: Photo Jules Villbrandt / Anne Schütz

The relaxed gesture is of course anything but improvised, it is actually quite sophisticated: in order for the bundle of tubes to function as light, Summa developed a construction made of mirrored panes together with the engineers from DCW éditions. They hold the pipes together securely and almost invisible. The current is also led invisibly through the suspension’s steel rings. The bulb is in the middle tube, the others only diffuse the light. “At first glance, they all appear to be glowing,” says Summa. “It’s a little built-in surprise. I like that kind of thing.”

Sebastian Summa's older design Org is the forerunner of NL12.


Sebastian Summa’s older design Org is the forerunner of NL12.
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Image: Photo Jules Villbrandt / Anne Schütz

The company DCW éditions, best known for its lamps by Bernard-Albin Gras and Bernard Scotlander, came across Summa by chance. DCW founder Frédéric Winkler spotted one of his lights in photos of an interior – and immediately wanted to produce it. The collaboration began with the model called Org – a concept related to NL12.

The next common lamp is expected to hit the market at the end of 2023. Plaster models of the new design are on the cupboard in the workshop in Berlin. Large, bulbous objects, examined by Summa again and again. “I spent a long time working on the radii and changing the dimensions,” he says. But now he has found the perfect version. She too can be released from the idyll into the world.

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