Illuminating a Sense of Place with the Northport Collection

Created in partnership between Landscape Forms and Robert A.M. Stern Architects (RAMSA), the Northport Collection pays homage to traditional street lighting, offering a warm and emotional connection to the past while also performing, looking and feeling at home in the present.

The design of the area and path lights was many years and much collaborative back and forth between the two teams in the making. “Nailing modern traditional is probably one of the hardest things to do as a product designer—you need to have cues and references that tell a familiar story, but you also have to take it someplace new,” describes Ryan Heiser, Director of Design at Landscape Forms. “The recipe for success that we’ve arrived at in all our modern traditional work with RAMSA is to identify a reference point and then start deconstructing.”

The reference point for Northport lighting that Heiser mentions is the acorn streetlamp, an iconic piece of outdoor design ubiquitous in the traditional American streetscape and deeply rooted in the country’s landscape design heritage. In addition to trading combustion for high-performance LEDs and optics, Northport makes a number of aesthetic changes to evoke that sentimental historic connection in a more elegant and subdued fashion. “We worked to make Northport lighting very sleek, smooth and streamlined,” Heiser continues. “We refined and revised the design, carefully removing as many lines as we could to still tell that modern traditional story without any excess ornamentation.”

This process of thoughtful design deconstruction is typified in the way Northport luminaires convey the namesake “acorn” of their inspiration. Without a glass globe atop the post, the lights instead craft a connection to the classic streetlamp in much more subtle manner. Heiser explains, “Because these are obviously no longer gas lamps and we don’t need to worry about wind interfering with the light source, we chose to omit the glass. Instead, the negative space between the arms invokes that acorn shape we’re all so familiar with, but does so in a more modern and thoughtful way.”

Unique to the Northport area light is another subtle design cue that continues in the theme finding modern, nuanced ways of crafting touching connections to streetscapes past. Mounted inside the area light below the lens, an optional LED element alludes to a gas lamp’s flame, inspiring warm nostalgia and reinforcing a traditional setting’s the sense of place. “Great design doesn’t give itself away, but rather offers suggestions,” describes Heiser. “In seeing Northport lights up close, the element doesn’t necessarily look like a flame. But when you see a whole line of them in context paralleling a street, you’re met with this inspiring this ‘aha’ moment as you discover what that element represents, and you’re really taken by it.”

Published on November 9, 2023

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