Unveiling the Maru: David Trubridge extends his love for nature and the ocean in his latest lighting design

Seasoned New Zealand furniture designer David Trubridge has unveiled ‘Maru’ - the newest luminaire to come out of his Whakatu-based studio. The oceanic light joins a family of nature-infused works of design  – and is an extension to Navicula light that launched just over a year ago.

Trubridge has long embedded an environmental voice into his design and production, and his recent fixation with Diatoms (a major group of microorganisms found at the base of the entire oceanic food chain) represents this long-standing relationship between him and his natural surroundings.

The sculptural light projects elements of the ocean, and occupies swirling panels of bamboo plywood arrayed around its elliptical form. The light is made from 60 identical components and is a reference to the shape and style of diatoms.


Ben Pearce, head of marketing at David Trubridge, says, “Diatoms take more carbon out of the atmosphere than all the world’s tropical rainforests. Through photosynthesis, they liberate enough oxygen for our every second breath.”

Maru’s development from Navicula is an exploration into different Diatom forms and was further researched by David Trubridge's designer Makiko Smith, who revealed several oval forms that influenced the design. Additionally, Maru's form has accents from fern fronds and nikau palm trunks.​

Maru is lit internally by low energy interior LED lights, which cast overlapping shadows upon the ceiling surface, and is referred to as ‘Maru’s hidden quality’.

Pearce says, “lighting the form was a huge challenge, as there was no off the shelf lighting equipment so custom-made LED modules designed and ordered from overseas. Those were mounted onto aluminium strips that are hidden inside the light."

He says while Trubridge respects fellow landscape artists such as Andy Goldsworthy, rather than look for inspiration in fellow designers, he turns to nature to invoke design inspiration. ​

As an extension of his artistry from the nature lighting range, David Trubridge has released a short film, which showcases Trubridge romanticising over the relationship between humans, nature, and design.  

“I don’t consider myself a designer, I don’t solve problems, I’m an explorer,” Trubridge says in the video while venturing into various uninhabited New Zealand settings.  

The minute-long trailer captures Trubridge in his backyard in Mahanga (located north of Mahia) and is filmed by Davide Calafà, an ex-intern at David Trubridge Design studio.  

Pearce says rather than the video being a marketing tool, it gives insight into Trubridge's identity, which encourages designers to stay true to their internal voice.  

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