August 21, 2013

Ones to Watch: Standard Socket

As far as upstart American lighting manufacturers go, Seattle-based

Standard Socket

is something of a indie all-star team. The founders of the company include Darin Montgomery of the furniture company


, and Dawna Holloway and Brian Beck of

East Bay Sculpture and Lighting

—a local outfit that has fabricated pieces for the likes of

Iacoli & McAllister


Tom Dixon

. Standard Socket debuted its first this season with eight seemingly disparate lights (a ninth is in the works), all fabricated by artisans in the Seattle area using diverse materials–spun copper, hand-turned birch, glass, chipboard.

While Standard Socket has tapped mostly local designers, a Brooklynite and a Norwegian are also in the mix. In fact, the venture seems to be as much about creating connection as it is about selling product. The founders all knew each other well before the company started. We spoke with Hillary Rielly, Standard Socket’s fourth founder, about the company’s vision, its overall aesthetic and the thread that ties its collection together.


Interior Design: How would you describe Standard Socket’s design aesthetic?

Hillary Rielly: It’s modern. It’s fresh. It’s playful. The lights are what they are. They’re not trying to be anything more. We just want to make a great product at a great price point—and want our customers to know where the products came from.

ID: Is there a thread that ties the collection together?

HR: We gave all of the designers an image and asked them to design off of that. It’s a very sparse photograph of a window overlooking a series of buildings and garages. Even though it’s hard to see the string that runs through all of the products, there is a connecting line among them.

ID: What constraints did you provide to the designers?

HR: We left it pretty open. We told them what type of socket they had to use. and we gave them a rough price point that we wanted to hit. We also gave them the option of a pendant, floor light or sconce. We chose not to do a table light, because those are a little tricker in terms of UL listing. But we ended up having a table-light option at the end!

ID: Will you tap the same designers to work on your second collection?

HR: We want to draw from new ones, just to give as many people the opportunity as possible. We know a lot of furniture designers. It’s easier to prototype furniture than lighting because of codes and UL listings. In furniture you have this unlimited palette, where you can use any material. But with lighting it’s different. The  connection point to the socket needs to be a certain material, for example. If you don’t meet that code, you need to start all over. We can help the designers that we work with navigate all that.

ID: Do you have plans to work with LED in the future?

HR: We’ve talked about LED, and in the next round or two, LED is going to be featured more prominently. But LED is just a whole other beast in terms of manufacturing and UL listing. So we started this first round off with something we knew really well. We didn’t want to throw too many kinks in.


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