multiple bronze lamps all next to each other
RTO’s iconic Found Object lamps. Photography by Jason Varney.

10 Questions With… Lostine’s Founders

It was on an antiquing trip across the country that vintage menswear purveyor turned lighting designer Robert Odgen met his creative counterpart—and soon-to-be-wife—ceramicist Natalie Page. Eventually, after stints at Anthropologie and PHD Design, the couple would open up shop together, founding Lostine, a product design studio and marketplace offering American modern lighting and homewares designed and made in house in Philadelphia. (The busy multihyphenate makers also have their own lines on the side, RTO Lighting and NPage.) At their spacious showroom located in an old industrial warehouse (where the commercial digital computer was born, no less!) they share coworking office space with other creatives, warehouse the vintage finds they sell through Lostine, and make all Lostine lighting and furniture pieces in a stacked-and-stocked workshop that encompasses metalwork, ceramics, woodworking, and more.

Robert Ogden and Natalie Page of Lostine
Natalie Page and Robert Ogden of Philadelphia lighting and lifestyle brand Lostine. Photography by Jason Varney.

Lostine Founders Talk Sourcing Vintage Finds + Creative Inspiration

Interior Design: How did you meet and come to open Lostine?

Robert Ogden: Natalie and I first met at the Golden Nugget Antique Flea market in Lambertville, New Jersey, before working together designing products for a company called PHD Design. It was exciting and exhausting traveling all over the world working with factories. Years later in 2010, the opportunity arose for us to purchase PHD, but since we owned the designs, we decided to just buy the inventory and start Lostine.

There was no owners’ manual, so we were lucky to have friends in the business who gave us great advice and we learned to expand our capabilities as we went. We were tired of disposable home products and wanted to make beautiful products that would last. Gradually, we began to move all of our production to Pennsylvania, and today, we have a very talented team of employees helping us handcraft every Lostine design.

ID: What does the company look like today?

Natalie Page: Today, between the three brands, we have just over 50 employees. We are all housed in one building allowing us to collaborate freely and share resources like the lunchroom. It feels very much like a work community. We are creating a vintage procurement arm to our offerings, and we will expand our physical footprint to house those pieces along with a larger in-house showroom and photography studio. In the Arena Arts and Design building, we have a co-working space as well as several artists and creative businesses that have independent studios making it a really interesting place to be. Our photographer is upstairs, and the upholsterer is down the hall from a clothing company and a chef’s kitchen! It is a really great, creative environment.

white chandelier hanging from ceiling with bronze handle
Lostine’s Lola chandelier. Photography by Jason Varney.
white leaves in clay on a table
Casting experiments in the Npage ceramics studio. Photography by Georgina McWhirter.

ID: Where does the name come from?

RO: The Lostine name comes from a small town in Oregon, a nod to our American Modern design influence and commitment to using locally sourced materials.

ID: You’ve recently started sourcing and selling vintage furniture found on trips deep into the countryside to France and Belgium. What have been some of your favorite and most unusual finds from those trips?

RO: Finding pieces of furniture made by the architect Dom Hans van der Laan is definitely one. The most exciting moments happen at small markets opening at sunrise. Maybe it’s raining lightly, and it all starts when you step in a puddle and keep foraging. To share that experience repeatedly with my wife and best friend is such a gift. Then, we have to coordinate all the pickups and deliveries with each vendor. Through that, we’ve made so many friends and met really knowledgeable and interesting people.

NP: One of our favorite finds was a painting that was in a café at the famous Paul Bert Serpette market in Paris. It was a cold, rainy day, and we hopped in to get warm. We both loved this painting on the wall but I didn’t think too much about it after. It was not for sale or on our list of things to buy. To my surprise, a year later, I opened it up on Christmas morning as a gift! Every time we look at that painting, we are reminded how much we love an adventure.

ceramic pieces all waiting to be glazed on a shelf
Pieces awaiting glazing in the ceramics studio. Photography by Jason Varney.
brass offcuts in a factory setting
Inspiration is everywhere: Brass offcuts inadvertently form a geometric abstract vignette on the workshop floor. Photography by Georgina McWhirter.

ID: Speaking of, you have started selling vintage art, what prompted that endeavor and what do you look for?

NP: Sourcing vintage art is a true pleasure. We have always looked for art at flea markets and estate sales. Our walls at home are covered and our kids love it too. It is not so much about the name, but about the piece and how it makes you feel. Choosing vintage art is about color and composition; sometimes, it is a combination of the way something is framed or not. It is really exciting to find something that speaks to you. There is a lot of wonderful artwork out there, and some are not as great. It is sometimes discouraging to go through piles of paintings or portfolios of drawings, but you do feel like you have found treasure when there is something interesting.

ID: Robert, you’re known for making one-of-a-kind antique-looking “found object” lamps with an industrial, almost steampunk feel. How did that start, what found objects do you use, and what draws you to that process?

RT: I started in the late 90’s, making a few lamps out of found industrial objects; I mostly made them as gifts. In the early 2000’s, I was working as a product designer and needed a way to make some extra money to pay for private school for my son. I started with parts that were inexpensive to find, like old enamel or mercury glass shades, iron bases, vintage gears (that lock the articulating arm in place), and I made 8 different lamps. Natalie and I loaded them into my old land cruiser, and we drove to New York to show them to John Derian. He said I’m going to give you an order, if you fill it, fine. If you don’t, it’s ok too. The order was for 28 assorted lamps. I filled the order in four weeks. He called after the first weekend and said he needed more. That was 2002, and he still sells them today.

vintage wooden chairs all sitting in a row next to each other
Lostine also sells vintage finds. Photography by Jason Varney.
vintage artwork on a wall hanging above a wooden side table with a green book
They also recently started purveying vintage art. Photography by Jason Varney.

ID: What is a key piece of Lostine’s, how is it made, and what inspired it?

NP: The Lola chandelier was special because we had not yet made a larger lighting piece for Lostine. We wanted to use ceramic shades as we had been expanding the studio at NPage to include casting. It was important that the fixture be modern yet timeless and that the overall design would work well in several different sizes. We landed on a multi-arm fixture with tall ceramic shades in glossy cream, matte white, or Robin’s Egg, a matte glaze with a tinge of light blue, that curve up from a matching ceramic cluster dish. A rich black walnut ball anchors the soft lines of the chandelier.

What excites you about design the most; is it the making, the concept, the research?

RO: The making. I enjoy figuring out the process and engineering a design idea. It’s what keeps me up at night and gets me up early in the morning.

hanging light chandelier that looks like miniature spotlights
RTO Lighting’s Alice chandelier. Photography by Jason Varney.
funnel pendants hanging from the ceiling in an all-white room
Natalie Page’s Funnel pendants. Photography by Jason Varney.

ID: You give back a lot to the community, including making sure you use sustainable and local materials where possible. How important is it for you to source things locally?

RO: Very! We try to keep our footprint small. All of the wood for our product is local. The leather we use is from Pennsylvania. We try to source Canadian brass as much as possible. Our glass is blown in Boyertown, Pennsylvania, and in West Virginia.

ID: How do your individual lines, NPage and RTO Lighting, differ from Lostine?

RO: With the RTO brand, I don’t let price point restrict my ideas! I can also create more items with RTO that are customizable than we can for the Lostine collection.

NP: NPage leans into an artistic point of view. I am really interested in how functional pieces can also be artful or at minimum, suggest some curiosity beyond the form. The focus is primarily about celebrating ceramics as the material, while Lostine design embraces a mix of materials.

one sconce besides a bed with a carved out bedpost and white armchair
Lostine’s Grace articulating sconce in a Sam Sacks Design project. Photography: Lo Miller.
bar area with wooden stand, marble table and chairs and hanging lights
Lostine’s Lawrence pendants and Jack stools. Photography by Jason Varney.

ID: Is there a collaboration you’re particularly proud of?

RO: Art Deco–inspired chandeliers that RTO crafted for Ralph Lauren runway shows. They each measured an enormous 40 feet.

ID: What’s next for you?

NP: For NPage Studio: a new collection of wall lights and table lamps. For Lostine: textiles and housewares for fall.

RO: At RTO, a shoppable website on which we’ll also start offering vintage lighting.

multiple bronze lamps all next to each other
RTO’s iconic Found Object lamps. Photography by Jason Varney.
metal outline of a disco ball hanging from ceiling
Robert Odgen made a custom disco ball hung with glinting metal leaves die-cut in the shape of Natalie Page’s silhouette, gifted to her for her birthday and now located in the sunlit NPage ceramics studio. Photography Georgina McWhirter.
Lostine ceramics studio with multicolored tags
Lostine ceramics studio. Photography by Jason Varney.

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