Inside the Design: The Ray Collection
In case it isn’t obvious, here at Schoolhouse, we’re a bit lighting obsessed. And today, we wanted to spend some time talking about a fixture family that is the perfect embodiment of confidence and calm: The Ray.
A study of form and its effect on light quality, this iconic assortment puts a modern twist on a classic mid-century design. This season, we've expanded the family by welcoming the Ray 6" Pendant - a perfectly petite but equally versatile lighting addition. To celebrate its arrival, we asked our Product Team to walk us through the design process of this charming collection.
The initial goal was simple – create a pendant lamp with a modern shape. But as the old adage goes, “simplicity is the most difficult of all concepts.” One of the longest development timelines to date, it took over a year to get the design just right. “We looked to the concept of a halo or having a shade within a shade to see how we could optimize light quality,” says Sarah, the lead designer on the Ray.
Taking inspiration from two of our existing fixtures – the Luna Pendant and the Shelby Pendant – Ray’s glass diffuser imitates the glowing, celestial nature of the Luna, while its shade shape plays on the silhouette of the Shelby. Keeping the original design intent in mind, our product team experimented with the shade shape and scale.
"The Ray explores how form impacts light."
The Shelby Pendant's silhouette inspired the Ray's shade shape
The Luna Pendant's ambient glow inspired the glass diffuser design for the Ray
Early sketches explored various silhouettes
When deciding on finishes, our Product Team knew they wanted to expand on color offerings for our pendant lights. “Knowing that we wanted to bring in more options, color was an important factor of this development from early on. We knew the hue had to stay true to Schoolhouse.” Sarah adds, “We wanted to explore Schoolhouse’s take on primary colors in a way that was playful yet still sophisticated.” With this brief in mind, our designers began gathering inspiration.
In the end, they were able to narrow down the color palette to five unique finishes – Dune, Pool, Paprika, Satin Black, and Shell White. Dune was the result of manipulating the sheen of a classic and existing Schoolhouse color – marigold. Pool was inspired by our existing Andy Collection while Shell White and Satin Black are Schoolhouse staples that are used throughout our existing lighting assortment.
Our existing Grant Mirror in Marigold
The muted hues of the Andy Collection served as early color inspiration
When it came to Paprika, our design team was initially inspired by the vibrant, rich red present in Swedish barns, cranberry bogs, and floral fields. After researching a few options, they looked to a past Schoolhouse tote bag for a near-perfect color match. Working in photoshop, Sarah came up with a few options, lightening and darkening the shade to see how it changed based on the adjustments. From there, she began testing it on small dome shades in our lighting lab. “It was interesting playing with color in this way because the color began to read differently once it hit the curves of the shade.” Says Sarah, “It took multiple iterations until we were able to land on a color that was just right – the final color is rich while still muted.”
The Paprika color option was inspired by a past Schoolhouse tote bag
The last piece was to make sure all aspects — the steel shade, minimal rod, glass diffuser, and internal parts — would work well together as a whole. The Product Team was in the final stages of prototyping when they noticed a problem – the internal hardware could be seen if you were looking at the fixture from a side angle. They decided to press pause so that they could find a solution. After a couple weeks of problem solving, they landed on developing a custom fitter that would hide all of the internal hardware.
"We decided to redesign because the details matter."
The Ray Pendant is not the only fixture that embodies thoughtful and refined connections. When designing the sconce and surface mount, the product team spent a long time trying to figure out what configuration would result in the best installation experience. The biggest challenge was making sure that the glass shade was secure but also easy to take on and off in both a wall-mounted and ceiling-mounted application.
During their research, they weren’t able to find a part that would solve this problem. So, they decided to design one in-house. The result is a custom, concealed lever that is located at the base of the fixture. By turning the lever, the shade can be easily removed to change out the light bulb.
The final product is a luxe light that pays homage to the rich color palette of the 1960s. Equal parts persistence and creative problem-solving, we think the Ray is a perfectly playful addition to our latest launch and we hope you do too.