Green Light District
Since the dawn of the recycling era, we’ve seen a cornucopia of creative ways in which trash can be transformed into treasure. There are some ideas, though, that really take the cake. A perfect example are the gorgeous, functional art pieces created by Green Light District from recycled items.
If you’ve recently popped into the new News Café in Rosebank, there’s just no way you’ve missed the sparkle of that exquisite, 4m long glass chandelier in the centre of the restaurant. This, ladies and gents, is a product of Studio A and Green Light District. The latter is a Johannesburg-based company that uses materials such as recycled glass and air filters from trucks, to create a variety of custom-crafted luminaries.
Green Light District was started by environmental artist and entrepreneur Stephen Pikus and is a beautiful example of what happens when respect for the earth is combined with functional design. The company currently has two lighting ranges: glass chandeliers (such as the one at News Café) and Truk – unique lamps made from recycled truck air filters.
The chandeliers are handmade from glass that is collected by a team of trolley-pushing recyclers, a sight that has become so familiar in everyday South African life. Whole glass bottles, broken glass and other glass items are processed by Stephen and his team to create a beautiful beach glass look (sans-sharp edges and opaque in colour). Each piece is then individually tied with wire by the company’s community upliftment initiative which offers employment and support to previously disadvantaged individuals. The process of making these earth friendly chandeliers may be complex, but the result is just extraordinary, adding je ne sais quois to any dining room, bar or double volume space.
In 2014, Stephen’s Truk lamps won first place in the Professional Category of Eskom’s Energy Efficient Lighting Design Competition. These striking pendant and standing lamps are made from recycled truck air filters that are collected from the automative industry. They are then transformed into various sizes and shapes and are available in a range of electroplated and powder-coated finishes. There’s no surprise that these brilliant lights won first place at Eskom’s competition; they’re proof that beautiful objects can begin life in any form. What’s more, these pendants are indigenous South African design and have been granted patents by the CIPC (Companies and Intellectual Property Commission).
“I believe that environmentally conscious design, in our case lighting, goes way beyond merely using energy saving bulbs in a fitting, something we should all be doing already,” says Stephen. “It’s about the responsible sourcing of materials, the use of earth friendly processes and about making a positive impact environmentally and socially. Many materials are thrown away daily and many of these, with a little imagination, can become something beautiful. We have a responsibility to educate future generations on the importance of an environmental conscience.”
Before moving back to Johannesburg with his wife, Stephen worked amongst two other artists in Tzaneen, Limpopo, teaching painting techniques and mosaic to raise funds for an NGO. With this kind of background, community support and upliftment naturally played an important role when establishing Green Light District more than a year ago.
“All of our team members were previously disadvantaged men who rely on the money from these projects as their primary or secondary income,” says Stephen. “I don’t know where I’d be if I wasn’t helped along the way, so it’s important for me to pay that forward and help those around me. That is the foundation of Green Light Districts’ ethos.”
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Photos: Stephen Pikus.