Behind This Maker’s ‘Butterfly Asteroid’ Lighting Series



Illuminating ideas as well as rooms, today’s lighting designers aren’t just making fixtures–they’re creating high art that tells a story. For his Butterfly Asteroid series of one-of-a-kind lights, New York-based multidisciplinary designer David Nosanchuk embraces a unique hybrid of digital technology and handcrafted methods to weave an intriguing tale about the ever-changing natural world.

“Currently, I think people are more interested in narratives than process,” the designer says. “They want to pause and ponder a relationship they may not have considered, like how a butterfly and an asteroid could possibly be related.” While it’s true that, on the surface, the winged insects have little in common with the extraterrestrial rocks, they do have one similarity, according to Nosanchuk: “Both have flight patterns that are the result of metamorphosis.”

The series began when Nosanchuk was asked to design a piece about woodworking in the digital age for The Center for Art in Wood in Philadelphia in 2016. “I had done a lot of traditional woodworking, and I became interested in the idea of using technology to make a sculptural light,” he says. Made from quarter-sawn steamed beech veneer, the butterfly wings are laser-engraved on both sides, resulting in a tissue-thin, translucent appearance, while their bodies are cast from solid bronze, lending heft to the delicate wings. The asteroid was modeled after a real one and built to scale using hand-applied fiberglass, giving it an opaque glow and a dreamy moon-like quality.