Illuminated bamboo orbs and ovals from his lighting collection swayed gently overhead while David Trubridge discussed the role of beauty in design during his May 18 talk, “Beauty Matters,” at the New Zealand Embassy in DC. Born in England and trained as a shipbuilder, he spent 10 years sailing the world with his family before settling in New Zealand. Trubridge began making furniture and burst onto the design scene in 2001 with his Body Raft, an ingenious recliner that was snatched up by Cappellini. Today, lighting is his main focus—and sustainable design is his passion. Trubridge sat down with H&D during his visit to the capital.
What inspires your work? When I’m on my own in nature, that’s when something happens. I don’t see a finished piece, but I access my subconscious, where ideas come from. You can’t force creativity. You have to understand the conditions in which it happens and create them.
What are your guidelines for creating sustainably? Absolute sustainability is impossible. Timber is easily replenished—globally, it’s growing faster than it’s being cut and it keeps carbon out of the atmosphere. We use bamboo, which is good, but the machine process of cutting it into sticks, gluing and stripping them is bad. You choose the least bad option and do what you can.
Explain your thesis in “Beauty Matters.” Art and beauty are fundamental parts of who we are. Beauty is not separate from usefulness. People will take care of something beautiful longer; I believe if our world is beautiful, we will take better care of it.
What is next for you? I’m designing a windsurfer using a traditional Polynesian sail, which is incredibly efficient. I love Polynesian culture and history and this will help call attention to the environmental issue of these people’s homes being threatened by rising sea levels.
David Trubridge designs are available in the Washington area through Apartment Zero.