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Talents Shine in New Lighting Designs

What happens when a couple — whose combined talents include graphic design, photography, marketing, hospitality, big ideas, sales, woodworking and engineering — get together? If they are Adam Policky and Dawn Hagin, of Portland, Maine, they wind up founding a studio that makes unique and beautiful lighting. 

The couple met in 1994 when working for the same graphic design company in San Francisco. They went on to start Rare Brick, a firm that specializes in photographing, branding and marketing boutique hotels. While they excelled at this work, "I needed to work with my hands and I'd had enough of sitting in front of my computer for eight hours," Policky says. The hospitality industry inspired the new venture, as some of their first commissions were to design site-specific light fixtures for their boutique-hotel clients. Thus, Inspired Wire Studios was born. 

The couple now designs fixtures for a variety of clients, from their original hospitality clients to private owners and retail and gallery spaces. Combining Hagin's tendency to say, "Wouldn't it be cool if..." with Policky's photographer's knowledge of light — and an ability to make just about any idea come to life — has resulted in a collection of unique and truly inspired pieces.

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This playful fixture, called the Bübingarang, was created for Policky and Hagin's own dining room. The boomerang shape pays homage to mid-century modern style, and it is crafted from a beautiful African rosewood called bubinga (hence the name of the fixture). The piece shows us a lot about the way Policky and Hagin collaborate. They brainstorm together, come up with a sketch, and Policky builds the fixture while Hagin scouts fabrics and makes the lampshades.

A conversation I had with Policky and Hagin showed me much about the way they design.

Policky: One of the neat things about this piece is the balance. When designing the rod, I had to balance the weight so as not to put pressure on the junction box...
Hagin: He studied physics.
Me: I was just thinking he must have a degree in engineering.
Hagin: He has that rare right brain/left brain balance.
Me: I was thinking that as soon as he said "junction box."

The point is, there is a lot more to each piece than one notices at first. The Bübingarang ($920) is a piece that Inspired Wire offers as part of their current product line, which they are hoping to develop in addition to the custom pieces they craft.

This next piece, the Zero-C Floor Lamp, was designed for the owner of a eclectic studio. The room it was designed for worked double-duty as a place to present to clients as well as the owner's own entertainment room. 

At 5' 9", the lamp has a impressive presence. The lamp has a different look when viewed head-on; its curved shape is imperceptible from this angle.
The Zero-C (starting at $850) is a great example of one of Inspired Wire Studio's signature moves, mixing metal and wood. In this case, it's a mingling of oiled maple and stainless steel. Policky's foray into metalcrafting is a recent development. "There's something elemental about melting two pieces of metal together," he says.

While the Zero-C's inception was inspired by the site and the client's needs, it is now a standard yet customizable piece for them. If you order one, they'll likely want to change something about the materials, lampshade or even just the color of the cord as a nod to your space and style.
As for guidelines, the client had a cherry maple dining table and wanted uniformity throughout the open space. "The client actually sent us a CAD file of the entire building, so I was able to put each light into a 3-D model to check the scale," says Policky. Rectilinear shapes and warm woods carried through all of the light fixture designs, providing continuity, in spite the fixtures' very different looks.
This Washington D.C. condominium was a full project for the couple. This client had admired their oversized drum pendants at a hotel in the Poconos and hired them to design all his light fixtures. 

The JFG table lamp ($520), is a lesson in scale and site-specific design. At 39", it's taller than your average table lamp, yet its scale and proportions are perfect for the space.
These JFG Wall Sconces are another wonderful blend of metal and steel and rectangles and curves. A welded steel frame surrounds a cherry wood panel with a delicate bird's-eye maple inlay. Perforated steel cages curve around the bulbs. Policky and Hagin are big fans of Marconi lightbulbs, which emit a beautiful warm glow.
This two-drum JFG Chandellier ($1,260) over the dining table is a fantastic combination of metal and wood. It also floats in an eye-catching way, reiterating Policky's interest in the physics of suspension. 
The major fixture in the entryway was one of Hagin's "Wouldn't it be cool if..." ideas called The S-Curve. She originally sketched out the design on a napkin. While her original design had a metal curve winding around two drum shades, a change was made to fit this site. 

"Because this was for a hallway that leads down to a common area, we needed it to be a dramatic piece," Hagin explains. In this entryway, the six pendants provide more drama and lend a rhythm to a space meant to be moved through. 

At 68" long, the S-Curve ($3,480) is rather heavy, but Policky's knack for physics allows it to hang from the center of the piece without wobbling. Two extra hanging points eliminate spinning.
Here is a closer look at the S-Curve. They chose acrylic to surround the bulbs because it is lighter than glass, and because of its very contemporary uniformity. "Glass has beautiful imperfections, but they can be distracting," explains Policky. Again, Marconi bulbs are used to give off a welcoming light.
A finishing touch for the condo was the Monogram Shadowbox ($620). "The area outside the client's condo has two doors; one that goes into to the living space and another that leads into a utility area," says Hagin. "He wanted us to help guide people to the right door." The pair looked to their experience with hotels for the answer, gleaning inspiration to the way hotel door numbers are marked. 

"This is a highly customizable piece," says Hagin. "The insert slides into grooves, so there can be multiple inserts created for each fixture." It can display initials, a house number or office name. The combination of the birch wood frame with rippled plexiglass and perforated steel gives visitors a hint at what awaits behind the front door.
Moving on to another residence, we spy the Bulbs in a Cage Drum ($640) in the entryway. It holds a half dozen Marconi lightbulbs in a perforated drum. They can transform the room depending on the amount of other light and the time of day. "The O-shapes in the steel create short vertical lines all over the walls and the ceiling," says Hagin. 

"I added the wood veneers (at the top of the cylinder) because I wanted to do something different than what was expected," says Policky. This size serves as a dramatic light in an entryway. They have a smaller version in their own home.
These His & Hers Floor Lamps ($650) were inspired by "a chair the client had that was Eames-ish," explains Hagin. "It had a square seat and tilted at an angle." 

"We used the same-sized structural crossbar on the light that the chair had," says Policky. He crafted the first lamp out of stainless steel (left). "The client saw the first lamp and loved it so much that he wanted a second lamp," says Policky. "I made the same lamp but mimicked it in wood instead of steel." 

While these lamps have identical silhouettes, one is made from hard stainless steel, the other from delicate curly maple. The same structure was achieved using very different materials.
Adam and Dawn of Inspired Wire
So, what does the future hold for Inspired Wire Studio? "Building out our own studio has been a labor of love," says Hagin. The business is growing and the couple are looking to make this their full-time gig.

Hagin and Policky enjoy the advantages of living in Portland, which, in addition to its beauty, include a community of artisans and city support for small businesses. They hope to expand and employ more craftspeople to help them manufacture their work. I look forward to seeing what they do next.

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