Architect Larissa Sand Debuts The Alcyone Collection
Design and craft have always intertwined at Larissa Sand’s SoMa practice. Trained as an architect, Sand runs a metal-fabrication shop within her studio and is known for her precisely detailed work and an industrial-yet-elegant style that is on display at projects ranging from the just-completed lobby of Pacific Place to the design-forward medical marijuana dispensary Sparc. Over the last 20 years, Sand has also designed an evolving series of custom light fixtures, culminating in a collection of pendants and chandeliers that will be launched at San Francisco showroom Dzine in February.
What was the inspiration for your new line?
Often I’d be working on a space and visualize a light fixture there that didn’t exist. There were pieces that were simple, stark and modern, or ones that were completely voluptuous, but I couldn’t find anything that had the right balance between industrial and sensual.
How did you come up with the name Alcyone for the collection?
My background is in art history, and a lot of our work uses classic proportions that originated in ancient Greece, so I naturally wanted to look at mythological figures. Alcyone is the goddess of the sea and the moon, and the name just seemed to fit the romantic, ethereal aspect we were aiming for
The glass used in the collection is typically used for laboratory glassware. What attracted you to it?
Back in the ’90s, I became interested in scientific glass because of how it is fabricated—it’s like welding with glass. The tubes and shapes are cut and fused with torches while they are spinning on large lathes. It allows for extreme precision, yet each piece is still fabricated individually by hand. For the Globe chandelier, for instance, glass tubes are fused together with round-bottom flasks.
Even the hanging mechanisms of your pieces are elegant.
We wanted the effect to be spider-web delicate, not a shape hanging from a rope. So the lights are hanging from stainless cables and beautifully thin wires that are only available from a company in Italy. The wiring is semi-exposed, and partially encased in glass to celebrate it.
What do you think makes good lighting?
I don’t like it when light is too even—it kills the soul if there aren’t any shadows. Lighting often makes the architecture. It gives it atmosphere.
These lights are very contemporary. Would they work in a traditional space?
We do a lot of Victorian remodels here in San Francisco, and I think the contrast can be nice. You see a lot of contemporary lighting in very old buildings in Europe: If the building is good, and the light is good—it’s all good.
A version of this article appeared in the February 2015 issue of San Francisco Cottages & Gardens with the headline: Goddess of Light.