#Brite2020 | Light Up Labs Feature

Hairdryers, rotary phones, and old power tools find new purpose with Light Up Labs, the curious workshop of Paul Beaver and Leah Brow. Transforming found vintage items into welcoming lamps, their work illuminates the importance of creativity in conservation.

Light Up Labs began with a broken jigsaw. “I got one and a half cuts out of it before it broke.” Paul recalled, “I took it apart and tried to fix it, but I couldn't get it to work and put it in the scrap pile. A week later I thought, ‘how about we turn it into a lamp?’”

Paul’s background in conservation biology and construction and Leah’s forward-thinking imagination result in a partnership that is equal parts innovative and classic. Each lamp is made intentionally with careful attention to detail. As Paul said, “we want it to be integrative and interactive and creative.” This motto allows the duo to tackle challenging projects, such as building a custom chandelier out of a wire dress form for an interior decorating firm in Akron.

Some features are unique to Light Up Labs, such as rewiring that allows for the original power switch on a power tool to function as the lamp’s on switch. Wiring plays a big role in the process and it takes a strong understanding to open the door for exciting new projects. When recalling an old project where they converted a vintage rotary phone, Leah shared, “One of the coolest things we saw at Ingenuity Fest was a grandparent timing how long it took their grandchild to dial a phone number on our phone.”

The lampmaking process is surprisingly collaborative. Leah, the “procurement department”, established relationships with antique and thrift stores so she can look through their wares in hopes of finding that one special object. She is also in charge of managing their online presence, which includes their Etsy store and social media. Paul acknowledged her contributions, saying, “after we make a lamp, we have to take photos of it, sort through hashtags, and post it so the world knows it exists. There’s a lot that goes into it.”

Brite Winter and Ingenuity Fest have opened a lot of doors not only for Light Up Labs, but also for Paul and Leah personally. “We’ve met so many cool people and we get to be involved in something that a lot of people like to visit,” Paul said, “these are two flagship events for Cleveland and it’s really cool to be a part of it. Who knows what will happen the rest of the year. It’s good for the soul!”

This year at Brite, Light Up Labs is decorating a bathroom scene with playful bubble lamps created specifically for the space in The Living Room located with the Cleveland Clothing Co. Stage. The magic glow emanating from the bubbles perfectly highlights the room’s dreamy theme.

Paul noted that he would like to get more involved with custom work and installations. “At this point it’s pretty routine to wire up a power tool or make a cloud, but to make something bigger with multiple sockets and unpredictable wiring is challenging.” He said, “I’d like to do more like that.”

Be sure to stop by their booth this Saturday! Feel yourself marvel at the magical world of Light Up Labs.