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Transition of light – Sam van Gurp & Esther Jongsma

By 24-11-2018

Interview by Viveka van de Vliet

There are not many designers like VANTOT who experiment in such a progressive and extraordinary way in the world of lighting. From LED to solar cell, Esther Jongsma and Sam van Gurp are lighting experts who deal with light in all kinds of aesthetic shapes and variations. If it is up to the designers, you can simply touch power, and electrical components are shown as a full part of the design and not hidden away in multiple sockets or thick insulated cables.

It’s noteworthy: last year VANTOT traveled for the first time to the Salone del Mobile in Milan to present itself at Ventura Lambrate. ‘It was an instant success’, says Esther Jongsma. ‘Besides visibility, many international applications were issued, we were asked to participate in various exhibitions and talked to serious brands, galleries, the press and visitors.’

That tastes morish. This year, Esther Jongsma and Sam van Gurp took a new step: they have been selected by the Consulate General in Milan for SaloneSatellite 2018. This is thé moment to present new work to a large audience. The place fits like a tailored suit, since the designers go down a new, more commercial road.

They are no longer up-and-coming talents, but a studio with a serious and extensive portfolio that looks for new interesting collaborations and equal partnerships with international parties. ‘We believe in our own ideas and strength; but together we are stronger’, says Jongsma.

VANTOT emphasizes on the design vision, the process and the continuous and evolving research into the applications of LED lighting. By making it visible, logical and accessible in their designs, they try to make people understand the product. ‘That is not always easy’, knows VANTOT, ‘because people rather hold on to traditional light bulbs and sockets, instead of following a new avenue.’

So in the ‘light evolution’ Jongsma and Van Gurp take us by the hand.  With every new design, they show how poetic and beautiful contemporary LED techniques can be, and they deal with the negative connotation that sticks to electricity.

VANTOT started with a ‘classic’ armature, followed by the lamps entitled Current currents, whose electrical components are not hidden. Current Curtain emerged from this series of innovative lightning: a circuit of interconnected elements that forms a poetic ans esthetic architectural curtain of light. This leads to the latest version of the spatial Current curtain made for SaloneSatellite 2018. ‘The grid is broadly the same,’ explains Jongsma, ‘but we apply new materials and graphic forms, such as glass elements that are mouth-blown in the Czech Republic.’ With this they create a surprising new wall of light.

VANTOT is also represented elsewhere in Milan. In the historical Museo Diocesano, the architectural firm Space Encounters designed a radical statement as an alternative to the abundance of presentations and products: Bar Anne. Named after curator Anne van der Zwaag who selected a group of talented designers who produce something that benefits the interior of the large bar. VANTOT literally puts new lighting in the spotlight and, together with Klaas Kuiken, designs one of the spaces of the rebellious bar in a special way. In addition to VANTOT and Klaas Kuiken, Mae Engelgeer, Rick Tegelaar, Sabine Marcelis, Jelle Mastenbroek and Muller Van Severen collaborate in this Gesamtkunstwerk,  ‘usable exposition’, relaxation hangout, creative hub and meeting and networking space.

VANTOT adds something else: a one-day pop-up restaurant. Hostess Esther Jongsma and host Sam van Gurp initiate an exclusive dinner. Together with a creative chef they will make tasteful combinations between product design and food design. What VANTOT did earlier with success during the Dutch Design Week Eindhoven in 2017, they now serve to to a group of international guests. Also this is a perfect location for meetings with the press, galleries, visitors, and potential clients, the designers believe.

In the meantime VANTOT continues to focus fully on the transition of light. In the future, the light bulb with fitting, cord and plug belong to the past, the designers say. Instead, you probably have a spatial curtain of light. And a lamp no longer needs to hang above the dining table because you take the light towards you, take it with you as you move through the room.

If it is up to VANTOT, you can charge your lighting to the sun. With the remarkable Sunseeker, the studio won the SolarSquare Design Challenge 2017 in collaboration with the Dutch Design Foundation. The question: develop a lighting design for the public space around the Stadhuisplein in Eindhoven, was answered by VANTOT with a concatenated poetic pattern of light modules that behave like nature: in search of the sunniest spot, the modules move to the lightest point on the line of the Sunseeker. Together with Solliance, a company based at the Eindhoven High Tech Campus, the design studio is now developing this new application of solar cells. The new role of project leader and bridge builder between the technical company and the design world, fits VANTOT perfectly. And hopefully it will soon lead to a Sunseeker that hangs above the walking path in the city park of Eindhoven, while people passing by interact with this beautiful and smart light.

Thanks to Connecting the Dots
Portrait by Boudewijn Bollmann