Penticton startup lighting up awards

The first thing you are likely to notice when you look at a LOOM lamp is that something is missing — a light bulb.

Yves Gagnon president of Loom with one of the company’s prototype lamps which don’t require bulbs. One of Loom’s lamps recently won second spot in an international lighting competition.

Yves Gagnon president of Loom with one of the company’s prototype lamps which don’t require bulbs. One of Loom’s lamps recently won second spot in an international lighting competition.

The first thing you are likely to notice when you look at a LOOM lamp is that something is missing  — a light bulb.

The Penticton-based startup is developing high-end lighting fixtures where the lamp shade itself is the light source, rather than diffusing light from a bulb inside.

Yves Gagnon is company president for LOOM,  which got underway in June. He said their designs channel light from an LED source discreetly within the structure through the shade.

“We call it a light guide,” said Gagnon. “When people look at our light fixtures, they ask where the LED or where is the light bulb is. You can’t really see anything, but yet it gives you this beautiful  natural light.”

One of their lamps, Diaphanous, recently took second place in LAMP (lighting architecture movement project) an international lighting competition held in Vancouver. The theme of the competition was “Cosmos,” and Gagnon said Diaphanous reflects that through the constellations of the northern sky imprinted on the surface. Like the real stars, each of the points on the LOOM lamp becomes a light source, guiding the light to the surface.

“The light will only come out where there is a pattern or an extractor on the surface.  It is a very complex process, because it is in three dimensions. It is a combination of the shape of the light guide, the patterns, which will extract the light, as well as the LED itself,” said Gagnon.

The design of Diaphanous and LOOM’s other designs, which can be seen at loom.lighting, could be described as ethereal. Gagnon said the aesthetics of the lamps are as important as the technology.

“One goes with the other. We cannot make our light fixtures without aesthetics and we can’t make it without the technology. One marries the other,”  said Gagnon.

Putting it all together doesn’t come cheaply. Diaphanous can be ordered through LOOM’s website for $995.

Gagnon said there is a significant market for high end lighting.

“The lighting market in the US and Canada is about $85 billion but the high end market, which is the one we are going after, is 17 per cent of that,” said Gagnon, adding high-end lighting is the fastest growing sector of the market.

“We’ve already had quite a few preorders at that price. The dealers are going to sell it for probably twice as much.”

Though LOOM is still new as a company, the development has been underway for three years, starting with an idea by Matthew Kennedy, founder and CEO.

“His background is in industrial design, 30 years of industrial design, and 18 years of that in lighting. He knows the lighting industry quite well,” said Gagnon.

The company incorporated in June so they could take part in New Ventures BC, a competition to help early stage tech companies grow their business, where LOOM placed in the top 15.

LOOM has also been working with tech incubator Accelerate Okanagan, which Gagnon said helped influence them to set up their home base in Penticton.

“There is quite a bit of a tech hub that is developing in the valley and we feel that LOOM should be part of that. It is a great fit for where the business growth would like to go,” said Gagnon, who added that building their lighting fixtures in wine country could add to their reputation.

“We feel that is going to be a nice marketing feature for us as well,” said Gagnon.

Along with their other wins, LOOM was nominated on Nov. 10 in the Best Concept category of the Small Business BC competition. Other nominees for the 2016 SBBC competition include Chic Mobile Boutique, The Henna Hut and the Wine Crush Market. You can vote for your favourite companies at http://sbbcawards.ca.