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Adam Hoets: The Visionary Behind Award-Winning Lighting Design Company ‘Willowlamp’


Since 2005, willowlamp has wowed consumers with its breathtaking, innovative sculptural lighting designs. From chandeliers to lamps, standard works to bespoke creations, the Cape Town-based company has added both light and lustre to numerous hotels and restaurants around the world, as well as several private residences and working spaces.

willowlamp’s popularity, both in South Africa and abroad, is a testament to the quality of its products. The company’s light fixtures hang in a variety of prestigious establishments including Mena House Hotel in Cairo, the Melia and Landmark Hotels in London, Ritz-Carlton Hotels in Dubai and Chicago, Switzerland’s Seerose Resort & Spa, the Liwa Executive Suites and the Shangri-La Hotel in Abu Dhabi, the Clarion Post Hotel in Sweden, The George Hotel in Lagos, Angama Mara Lodge in Kenya and Morocco’s Four Seasons Hotel.

INSTALLED- Crown Perth Mandala 05

The company’s most ambitious and challenging project to date has been the installation of a set of four three-tonne chandeliers at the Crown Towers Hotel in Perth, which opened in December 2016.  Three years in the making, the project has become one of willowlamp’s proudest accomplishments. In May 2017, the project was awarded second place in the category of Best Use of Decorative Lighting in a Hotel Project at the international darc awards / decorative.

This is the latest of many design awards that willowlamp has won, including three consecutive Elle Deco International Design awards, a SABS Design Excellence award, and the Best Lighting Award at the inaugural 100% Design South Africa event. (9)

But it’s not just the hospitality and commerce industries that have readily commissioned these works, willowlamp creations hang in many luxury private residences. In fact, the team currently has another large-scale project in the works, this time for a large residential property in the UK. The piece is in the form of an “enchanted forest”, consisting of Enchanted Faraway Tree chandeliers, and covering an area of 3.5x6m.

The man behind all these achievements is Adam Hoets, creative director and founder of willowlamp. Hoets studied Architecture at the University of Cape Town and started his own architecture company immediately afterwards, designing eco-lodges for Wilderness Safaris. He owes his creative impulses to an innate predilection for art in various forms, and to the environment in which he grew up. Not only was he surrounded by a host of artists, craftsmen and intellectuals, but his home included a pottery studio, workshop and forest garden where he was able to exercise his own creativity.

Hoets was torn between studying Fine Art and Architecture, and explains his ultimate choice of the latter subject by saying, “My journey began as an architect, which has been invaluable in shaping my ‘design’ mind. I decided on architecture because my reasoning was that I could be an architect and also be an artist but not the other way round.”

Hoets made the gradual transition from architecture to lighting design in 2005. This was due, in part, to his goal in developing a marketable design-related product, whose creation was not hindered by the nature of the client-designer relationship. He feels this relationship can often restrict the designer’s ability to explore his or her own ideas.

The variety of projects that Hoets has overseen since the inception of willowlamp is definitely evidence of a confluence between architectural and artistic flair. He derives inspiration for his designs chiefly from nature and sacred geometry. “This is nature in its purest, highest state and is something I am very interested in and continuously explore in my work,” he says. The name ‘willowlamp’ itself is particularly evocative of nature, and was chosen because of how it poetically suited the ‘dangling filament’ nature of the company’s lights.

BeFunky Collage

Many of willowlamp’s products prove this inspiration, such as Flower of Life, a chandelier that owes its name to a shape commonly associated with sacred geometry. But willowlamp’s light fixtures are more easily identifiable by the signature use of steel plate and ball chains in their designs. Hoets has no intention of dispensing with these materials any time soon, given how they allow for the creation of a seemingly endless variety of forms.

Hoets and his team show no signs of slowing down in their production of modern light fixtures that double as works of art. And with each creation being more magnificent than the last, one wonders what feats willowlamp will achieve in years to come. Hoets seems to foreshadow the monumental quality of his future works when he says: “The work I am doing now is becoming all out architectural in scale!”