Struck by lighting

Cover photo: Say My Name Lamp. Photo by Kristofer Johnsson

Packing in a full-time career to follow your passion requires a great deal of courage. But for Ove Rogne, CEO and co-founder of Oslo-based design hub Northern Lighting, the decision was a no-brainer: “We wanted to have more fun at work,” he explains. “Lighting is fun, so as soon as the idea popped up, we decided right away to simply do it!”

Set up in 2005 by four long-time friends – three management consultants and a chef – Northern Lighting started off with the simple idea of creating the Snowball Lamp – a sleek, modern take on the classic Bauhaus version. A decade later, with a heap of diverse other designs under its belt, the outfit – now helmed solely by Rogne – has developed into a dynamic platform for both established and emerging designers to promote their work.


Snowball Table Lamp. Photo by Damian Heinisch

Called Northern Lighting as much for its boreal location as for the fact that illumination is a fundamental requirement in wintertime Nordic countries, the brand takes inspiration from the post-war Scandinavian design heritage, resulting in a coveted collection of pure, simple lines combined with strong handicraft traditions and rich, innovative materials. “Our lighting objects all have a recognisable shape and character; some complex and some more simple,” explains Rogne. “This, for us, is the beauty of what we do; we do not want a line of objects, but prefer to explore and surprise.”

Indeed, a dedicated in-house team systematically selects and tests each creation before giving it the green light. “Sometimes the creative process takes months, or years, with idea sharing, experimentation, changes and testing,” Rognes says. “Sometimes the object is just perfect right away.”

Brick white series top_view  - Low_res_Photo - Chris Tonnesen

Brick White Series. Photo by Chris Tonnesen

A decade in, and Northern Lighting is thriving, continuing to inspire and progress, delivering smart initiatives and canny collections such as the soon-to-launch ‘Unplugged’, which returns to basics with a series of slick candle holders. “The Unplugged series was designed to revisit lighting’s early origins,” says Rogne. “Lighting started with the discovery of fire.”

With a strong presence in over 50 countries, the international success of Northern Lighting is purely down to Rogne’s commitment and vision: from raising the brand’s profile at annual exhibitions such as London’s 100% Norway and Design Junction (where they are the only Norwegian brand to be taking part this year), to his continued support for Nordic design. But it’s Rogne’s initial objective to have fun that seems to be his main motivation. And with plans to launch an anniversary lamp in celebration of reaching the 10-year milestone, Rogne’s hopes for the future are: ‘to have fun, make more new, fascinating and exciting lamp designs and fill the world with more lamp lovers!’

Acorn Series. Photo by Chris Tonnesen


10 things Ove Rogne has learned in the past 10 years

  1. Things always take a lot more time than you think
  2. It takes the right group of people make a good brand
  3. Detailed control is impossible – focus on what matters to make people contribute
  4. Nordic design is extremely popular all over the world
  5. Production is difficult
  6. Logistics is difficult
  7. Good photos are everything
  8. You must make some mistakes before you get it right
  9. Money helps in life
  10. If it is not fun at work, nothing works