Illuminated art by Hubbardton Forge
It’s not often that you see the artisanal skills of the blacksmith featured in Swarovski’s Online Magazine. After all, it’s the embodiment of masculinity—all about repairing farm machinery, making tools, and shoeing horses, right? Partly right, yes—these functions are essential, of course, but the ancient craft has evolved, and today many blacksmiths come out of art school. Until you see some of the designs made by Hubbardton Forge, the U.S. designer and manufacturer of hand-forged lighting fixtures, it’s hard to imagine how 1000ºC heat, hammer and steel can achieve such delicate artistry.
With 43 years of experience, Hubbardton Forge has elevated metalcrafting into the realm of fine art. Founded as a two-person craft studio in a 19th-century barn in Hubbardton, Vermont, the company is renowned for its commitment to American craftsmanship, expressed in authentic, hand-forged heirloom lighting pieces that will be handed down the generations. Today, everything from customer service through design engineering, welding and finishing is all done under one roof in Vermont.
“A lot of what drives us is the seasons. We have a long winter in Vermont, which is why you see a lot of soul and warmth in our products,” says David Kitts, Design Director. “Our primary muse is the forge, but we’ve also introduced aesthetics from other materials and elements. Bringing crystals into the mix, for example, has allowed us to take off in directions we’d never have thought of, and treat crystals like jewels.”
Nothing demonstrates this more effectively than Synchronicity by Hubbardton Forge. Unveiled in January at the Lightovation International Lighting show in Dallas, Texas, Synchronicity is the beautiful outcome of Hubbardton Forge’s partnership with Swarovski. Described as a “mercurial marriage of delicate, hand-forged steel with exquisitely cut crystals and handmade glass,” the lighting fixtures have a poetic motion, their curved steel shapes seeming to scoop and cradle the crystals in a graceful pas de deux. “The Synchronicity settings are unique,” adds Alison Alexander, Hubbardton Forge Art Director. “They’re not just hanging crystals—they’re organic ‘tendrils’ that hold the crystals perfectly. Steel comes together with crystal to create jewels for your dining room.”
The name references the synchronicity between the materials—warm, slightly masculine components of forged steel with exquisite crystal highlights in “a marriage between Hephaestus, the god of fire, metal and craft, and Aphrodite, goddess of beauty, sensuality and vibrant creation,” as David poetically puts it.
The Courbé and Courbé Duet pendants and sconce incorporate Swarovski’s Wave Cut crystals: “The Wave Cut has a flowing feel with convex and concave curves, so we wanted to make sure we echoed that softness,” says David. “The crystal is held without a hole or a hook—just a tendril of the steel fixture.”
There are other lighting elements in the Synchronicity collection: the Gaia pendant, with its steel vines and leaves cradling Oval Pear crystals. Artemis’ fluted steel shows off the distinctive Boomerang crystals to stunning effect, like a necklace of stars suspended in space. The Terra pendant weaves webs of silk thread through dazzling crystal beads and steel rods, evoking geological lines. Cone-shaped crystals play alongside dynamic ribbons of steel in the Rhapsody pendant and sconce, and the circular Aria pendants sparkle with Swarovski crystal fabric in Comet Argent Light. Using crystal this way is new for the brand. “The Wave Cut crystal and Synchronicity have a naturally organic, feminine feel—we’re keeping the brand voice sexy and seductive,” says Alison.
The new line is certainly a hit with its sternest critics—the staff: “I think we have a lot of closet crystal fans at the Forge,” laughs David. ‘They didn’t realize it until they saw Synchronicity!’
Photo credit for Product Images: Jim Westphalen Photography