David Trubridge 32 Cicada lights

  • Pou Auaha / Creative Director
    David Trubridge
  • Ringatoi Matua / Design Director
    Marion Courtillé Heays
  • Ngā Kaimahi / Team Members
    Andrew Robertson, Madi Knight
  • Client
    Artful Curation

Our clients were opening up an area of native bush on their Northland property. They asked us to create an "element of magic” that responded to the environment and which also enhanced their experience of it. In particular, they wanted a setting in which to immerse themselves in the evening chorus of the birds and cicadas.
The Cicada lights and Tipua are visible from a new guest house being built nearby and from here both artworks have to offer a tantalizing glimpse of something more out there in the bush. They should not stand out too much in the environment, while still retaining their separate essences.
The Cicada lights are set back in what could be called a "fairy ring” around the dome, with an intervening ring of shadow. Barely visible in daytime, they slowly emerge as darkness grows in the hollows.

Cicadas have been our main inspiration for this project as we tried to mimic the elegance of the intricate patterns of their wings. Since cicadas spend most of their lives as underground nymphs (emerging above ground as adults) the lights are almost invisible during the day, finally emerging when darkness envelops the bush. Just as a cicada's wing harmonizes strength and fragility, this design aspires to embody resilience and grace.

The two different versions of the Cicada lights (480 & 600mm in length) are made of six CNC-cut, anodized 1.2mm aluminum parts, arrayed around a small top and riveted together with all-stainless rivets. These encapsulate a high quality Hunza stainless steel LED unit. There are six different colors of anodizing applied to a high micron grade for marine conditions. Suspensions are 316 stainless steel cables.

The 40 suspended lights appear weightless as they twinkle and dance against the backdrop of the dark bush and night sky. Their soft radiance gently illuminates the surrounding foliage, casting intriguing shadows and adding depth to the scene. The atmosphere offers opportunities for quiet contemplation or intimate conversations.

We wanted the arrangement of the lights to play a role in the general feeling of enchantment: some lights may be grouped closely together creating clusters of luminosity, while others may be spaced apart creating a constellation effect. The varying heights at which the lights are suspended further enhances the enchantment with some hovering closer to the ground, while others higher up seem to reach for the stars.

When a gentle breeze rustles through the leaves the lights sway slightly, in harmony with their environment. The flickering glow evokes a sense of warmth and joy, awaking the child previously asleep inside and suddenly thrown back into their favorite childhood fairytale.

We hope that this project serves as a reminder that magic can be found in the simplest of things, transforming ordinary surroundings into realms of delight where memories can be made.