ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition contacted me late last September. They asked if I would work with them to design some lighting for one of the Joplin homes. Eventually, I deduced a month later I was designing for the Nevins family. The show requested multiple pendant lights for two rooms. Of course the houses weren’t built yet, and I didnt have anything beyond that to go on. I had to come up with approved designs, build everything, and send it all in under three weeks. The deadline was tight, but luckily I had help along the way!
A week later, I found out that I was designing for the “Ecohouse” which has a really high sloping ceiling. A sculptor named Ruth Asawa, inspired the first design. She crochets long vertical wire sculptures. I thought something really big with a striking silhouette would look great in a tall space. The design stacks different sizes and variations of my Helianthus and Allium lights. The producers really wanted to use all the different lights I designed and suggested a cluster hung on crossbars. Seeing as the lights are woven from very pliable six-pack rings there was no way the lights could rest on one another. They would just end up in a big plastic smoosh. I designed a crossbar that’s pretty small and simple, with the lights spiraling down from smallest to largest ( 96 Lotus pendant light, Helianthus, 252 Lotus pendant light, Allium). When I finally got my got my hands on the blueprints I was able to see whether or not the design would work. The producers wanted a second Allium light for the dining room, but armed with the blueprints I decided to design two new versions specifically for the room. In the end they went with the tried and true original Allium. Now that everything was designed, I had a week of scrambling to build and package it all! I called up my friend Bryant for some urgent assistance. Bryant, my boyfriend, and I sat in my studio weaving two Helianthus lights. One was for the show, but I also had to make one for an art exhibition that same week. Talk about stress. We managed to complete both in one very long evening. Thanks, guys! That’s one down for the show. Four more to go. My boyfriend’s parents were visiting from Hawaii and staying with us. I put his mom to work. Actually, she volunteered. Thanks, Lita! It took one long evening for me, my boyfriend, and his mom to make the Allium lights. I had already spent a week making parts for the big and small Lotus lights, so it only took another evening for the three of us to assemble them. I wanted to fabricate custom crossbars from scratch, but I only had a few days left. I stopped by Canal Lighting and Parts to swap them out with standard parts. They helped me out a lot when I started Relevé Design a while back. Charlene and the guys at the store are really good at what they do, and they’re also super friendly! Everything on the show is donated. I wanted to give the Nevins family lightbulbs that were eco-friendly and gave off great light. I made a shopping trip to Home Depot. The cluster lights got 8watt bulbs and the dining room pendant got a 12watt bulb. They give off a lot less heat than incandescent, halogen, or florescent bulbs and still give off a wonderfully warm glow. They’re energy efficient, money saving, and long lasting. They’re great! After all the wiring was done. My boyfriend’s parents helped me wrap and pack everything. We dropped by the neighborhood UPS store down the street to send off the lights. Afterwards, I took them to a local bakery for afternoon tea. YUM! I was exhausted after those few weeks! It was all worth it though, because I was able to help build the Nevins family a cool new home.