WOKA was born in 1900, they produce handmade reproductions of exclusive lighting-fixtures from the early 20th century. Handmade in Vienna, with original tools using the highest quality materials, these lamps represent design at its best. We caught up with Christiane Büssgen, Creative Director.
You’ve been creating unique and distinctive lamps and lighting since 1900. Can you tell me more about the history and development of WOKA throughout the past century?
Absolutely. In order to explain how the company has evolved, we need to consider the historical evolution of commercial craftsmanship. It’s a complicated movement but I’ll try to summarise. In brief, up until the beginning of the 20th century the language of form in architecture and design, especially in ornamental pieces was determined exclusively by historical examples. Towards the end of the 19th century, resistance began to stir in the avant-garde and the Arts and Crafts movement formed worldwide to preserve craftsmanship in the arts. WOKA today stands for classic and innovative design that incorporates this commitment to craftsmanship. Taking inspiration from Wiener Werkstätte, the French Art Deco and the German Bauhaus – WOKA continues to develop new designs to fit with contemporary lifestyles and that represent innovations in lighting design.
As a company with such longevity, what do you consider to be the secret of your ongoing success?
It’s a combination of factors. Namely, trusting our instincts and continuing our commitment to quality, keeping our manufacturing in Austria and not being afraid to expand and go with the market. When it comes to design, the ability to be innovative and to redesign the classics in the form of new design for a younger, contemporary audience is essential.
Your creations are bespoke and, as such, entirely individual. From which sources do you generally draw inspiration for such pieces?
It depends on the request and what our clients are looking for. We work with the client to manage their expectations and to incorporate their ideas into the final design. For us, this is the best part. In particular, working with hotels, restaurants and private residences gives us the opportunity to be flexible in terms of the concept and the production.
Can you briefly describe the process you follow in making one of your lamps?
Firstly, there is the design. This will either be a piece we’ve been producing for decades or a custom made project. The process is tried and tested; brass makes up the base material for every lamp we produce, this is moulded, cut, shaped and sanded. The base is then polished lacquered or nickel plated and then the structure is ready. Next, and depending on the design, the lamp is assembled with mouth blown glass or crystals as well as handmade silk shades. Then, it goes through quality control, is packages, and leaves the workshop.
You’ve recently exhibited at Milan Design Week; how was this experience for you?
It’s the atmosphere at Design Week that really does it for me. We were showing with MMP in Zona Brera at Galleria Grossetti and met some fantastic retailers. It’s definitely a must as it provides a meeting place for designs from across the world.
For more information on WOKA and their upcoming events please visit their website: www.woka.com