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Enlightened Design

As an architectural firm with a storefront in the Duluth community, CF design has both opportunity and obligation, to raise design expectations and promote a “culture” of design awareness and appreciation when and how we can. CF design has always been a visual and demonstrative organization, with our works and our processes on display. Even so, there are influences upon the design process, so fundamental to the way we do work and think, as designers and architects, that the public little comprehends and, therefore, considers inconsequential. Sometimes lost in abstractions, the “influence of light” is one of those primary creative inspirations. One needs to be “present in the moment” to recognize the poetry and power of light. Calm and observation are required to understand the long-term potentials and the teaching “opportunities” that light may deliver. In today’s world, to simply “be still” requires willful accommodation. So, CF design has made a place to come to know and appreciate light in a restful and relaxed setting.

You who live on or visit Lake Superior’s shore should know your common ground. Many great lighting designers lived on or near the sea. Poul Henningsen, designer of the iconic PH series of lights, worked in Copenhagen. Santiago de Composta, home of designer Arturo Alvarez, reaches into the North Atlantic. The wonderful Spanish lighting company, Marset, is in Barcelona, on the Balearic Sea. On our doorstep, the Inland Sea, there is a sense of light… modified, rarified, and transformed by Lake Superior. This light is a brighter, more complex, more enabled light than many other places on earth. Amidst so many manifest lessons, Duluth is a place where telling the story of light and lighting is expressly relevant.

Here, next to CF design at 310 East Superior Street, in Duluth, I have recently opened LUMstudio, a curated collection of the finest international lighting. LUMstudio exhibits Italian, Spanish, Danish, and Dutch lighting fabricators together with an assortment of fine U.S.-made fixtures. Because observation needs “intentional stillness,” our collection is supported by comfy furnishings from the iconic MillerKnoll Collective and Portugal’s Branca Lisboa. The most famous of our lights, Poulsen’s PH5—designed 100 years ago, is the only incandescent fixture. This is an all-LED exhibit. The stories of making and inspiration play quietly on a large screen, in studio. We want LUMstudio to cultivate a culture of light here on the shores of Lake Superior, by demonstrating the diffraction, diffusion, and reflection of light that are each so much a part of this place and our natural experiences. Amidst planes of cold, still water and blue sky, the graded diffusion of sea smoke and fog in moonlight, the spectrum of color at sunrise through lucent atmosphere and clouds, the linear shimmer on a wave threshold, the concentric circles of light around the brightest stars and planets on a warm and humid night… These are performances we can anticipate from light.


Good architecture is specific to its site; the on-site state of light is considered very early in the process of design. At CF design, we look at Lake Superior and are moved to match its potency in our built spaces. Light, in all its forms and form-making, “settles” projects into the natural conditions. At CF design, we begin our work with this premise and we realize our work by holding on to the capacity of light—both generated and natural—to render tangible surface, form, texture, and color.

At LUMstudio, our collection simply celebrates light. Please join us.

—Cheryl Fosdick

CF Design

310 East Superior Street, Suite 125, Duluth MN 55802
218-722-1069 or 218-343-0983

Story sponsored by CF Design

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