The word green has become rotten—by which I mean overused, or to use John Barth’s phrase, exhausted. It is so ubiquitous as to be meaningless. Still, when I come across an eco-friendly product that really makes an effort to be “green,” I must say so. Lighting designer Allison Patrick, who recently graduated from architecture school, began Zipper 8 after experimenting with using repurposed materials. Now she makes pendant and table lamps with unique shades that incorporate tossed away objects such as soda can tabs and plastic bags—lighting that we might term green.
Artichoke Mixed Book Page Pendant Light. Designed by Allison Patrick. Manufactured by Zipper 8.
Pendant Lamps with Shades Papered in Book Pages
My favorite of the Zipper 8 lamps are the shades that use discarded book pages. Since I’m an avid reader, I like any design that uses books or pages: it reminds me of the wonder of reading, the fantasy of being transported through language (a journey via the intangible—the construction of a world through these ethereal things we call words). Designer Allison Patrick is perhaps a Libra: her aesthetic philosophy is paradoxical—“a really strong balance of super (slightly obsessively) organized pieces and completely chaotic, visually overstimulated pieces.” And her book lamps embody this duality, with their perfectly cut pieces and random pages (you’ll find a fragment of sheet music next to a novel excerpt).
Of the book lights, the first creation of Zipper 8 was the Artichoke Mixed Book Page Pendant Light. Covered in layers of perfect circles, the handmade shade envelops a round paper lantern, making it appear “ruffled and feminine” yet “hip and modern.” About 12 inches in diameter, the Artichoke Mixed Book Page Pendant Light includes pages from six or seven different books. Inside the sphere, a 60-watt bulb creates a lovely lighting effect, turning the crisp white pages to a golden yellow. The crazier cousin of this lamp is the Artichoke Colorful Cartoon Pendant Light, which lends itself to kids rooms especially well. Each lamp is made to order, so I imagine Zipper 8 would be willing to use whatever book pages you prefer. Francophiles could choose pages from all seven volumes of Proust, and graphic novel lovers could select pages from Marvel.
Zipper 8 also offers Mixed Book Table Light with Metal Stand, which resembles a globe hanging magically within a metal frame. The lightness of this piece complements its materials well—I’d like to see the Mixed Book Table Light veiled by pages from Arabian Nights or astronomy textbooks. With a diameter of 10 inches and a height of 18 inches, this table lamp fits on smaller surfaces (designer Patrick lives in New York, so she must know the value of space).
But book pages are not the only repurposed material that Zipper 8 uses. Soda Can Tab Diagonal Pendant Light and Cocktail Umbrella Pendant Light showcase the splendor of everyday objects by cloaking shades in aluminum tabs and paper umbrellas. The obsessively regular diagonal placement of the metal drink tabs takes on the look of armor—like the metropolitan version of a pangolin. This small drum shade (6.5 inches in diameter and 8 inches tall) can be used as a hanging lamp or as a shade for a small table light. The lighting effect of Soda Can Tab Diagonal Pendant Light is multifarious: light is filtered through the sides via the silver tabs, and it also escapes from the top and bottom of the shade. If you’ve ever come home from a bar with a paper umbrella—after having ordered some ridiculously sweet tropical drink—then you might appreciate Zipper 8’s Cocktail Umbrella Pendant Light. It’s a kitschy souvenir turned into colorful geometry: the umbrella’s ribs mimic the look of a geodesic dome.
About the Designer: Allison Patrick is a recent graduate from architecture school in New York City who is now completing an internship in the exhibition design department of the Guggenheim Museum. She began the design firm Zipper 8 last year and experimented with lighting and unusual materials. The result is her collection of lamps, which repurpose objects such as book pages, aluminum can tabs, and paper umbrellas.