The handmade and imperfect is a realm where husband and wife Michael and Mariel Upton of eponymous design studio Upton seem very comfortable operating within. The San Diego-based designers approach to everything from throw blankets, wall hooks, sculptures, to LP stands all exhibit a relaxed modernist approach to the practical – with a little bit of the graphical playfulness reminiscent of Marimekko thrown in for good measure. Taken as a whole, the Uptons’ body of work shares a playful perspective not too far removed from another famous creative Southern California pair, exhibiting a similar “approachable and accessible” design ethos.
Their latest offerings – HERU, CUNA, and MARA – are a trio of wall lights with a very SoCal origin story behind their illuminating spirit. Each of the oval-shaped lights was originally intended to live their life as a new skateboard deck. Alas, as anything manufactured, not every piece came out perfect and pieces were cast aside and deemed factory seconds, each destined for the landfill. Fortunately, Upton had the imagination to envision these pieces of ply living a new life as an illuminating feature for the home.
Even with a cursory glance, most eyes will recognize the 7-ply maple wood piece once aspired for a life dedicated to ollies and kickflips. After recutting each piece, Upton adds a splash of graphic design color printed across the deck’s top surface, then pairs each with lighting hardware and an easy-to-install custom wall-mount to complete the package.
The resulting trio of wall lights offer a surprisingly elevated home decor option for anyone who once or still loves skating, but who may also want to whisper rather than shout out that affinity within their home.
Each light measures 8.5”W x 13.5”H x 4.5”D, and can accommodate either a 20W LED bulb or 60W incandescent bulb.
All three Upton light designs are assembled to order in Upton’s San Diego studio and priced at $169 each.