David Rockwell: Light Snacks in a Busy Season

David Rockwell in his Union Square West office.

All appearances to the contrary, the New York architect David Rockwell is not channeling his energy into product design.

Yes, he is presenting two lighting groups during NYCxDesign. He was recently in Milan with his Valet furniture for the Chinese company Stellar Works. And his workplace collection for Knoll, called Rockwell Unscripted, will be introduced at the NeoCon furniture fair in June. What of it?

“A coincidence,” said Mr. Rockwell, 59. “The result of four to five years of interesting relationships” that just happened to bear fruit at the same time.

As is typical, he has a whole mess of stuff going on. His company, Rockwell Group, recently did the interiors of Vandal, a restaurant on the Bowery with an art program curated by the street artist Hush. It is working with the architects Diller, Scofidio & Renfro on Culture Shed, a multidisciplinary art space that will rise at Hudson Yards.

And it produced a quaint 1930s-style Hungarian perfume shop as a setting for the recent Broadway revival of the musical “She Loves Me.”

As different as those endeavors are (and they’re just a few morsels in the Rockwell stewpot), they have something in common that product design lacks. When Mr. Rockwell designs a piece of architecture, he said, he creates the look and feel of a place in response to a brief: “With a product, it’s going to end up in a whole range of environments. We can’t control where it goes. The personality of the product emerges at the level of how things are made.”

His new LED lamps toe the line between object and ambience, as sculptures that modify their surroundings. Notch, for example, a sconce created with the New York lighting company Rich Brilliant Willing, which will be shown May 14 to 17 at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair at the Javits Center, is a cube of blackened bronze with a diamond-shaped cutout revealing a brass surface inside. This simple form can be modified to produce three varieties of light, a golden glow from the middle, an uplight and a downlight.

Gold peeking through black is also a feature of Mr. Rockwell’s steel lamps for the Turkish company Gaia & Gino, to be shown by Casa International at the WantedDesign show in Chelsea, May 13 to 16. In this case, the lustrous cutaways have a sinuous curve. “And that really is a kind of flame,” he said.

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