Studioilse and Ames launch tactile lighting collection

Studioilse worked with Colombian craft specialist Ames to create a collection of lighting made with traditional techniques

Ceiling lights by Studioilse and Ames in different shades
‘Raiz’ ceiling lights.
(Image credit: Courtesy Ames)

Ilse Crawford and Oscar Peña of Studioilse present a new collection of lighting designs created in collaboration with Ames, a company specialising in traditional Colombian manufacturing. The ‘Raiz’ collection of lighting is made of traditional black clay, a material the pair had been wanting to experiment with for some time, and the connection with Ames formed the perfect opportunity.

Founded by Colombian Ana María Calderón Kayser, Ames was born of a deep love for the country and a desire to promote local craft while supporting family-owned workshops working with ancient techniques. 

The collection marks a new chapter for the brand, presenting its first lighting products and the debut of its collaboration with Studioilse, continuing its aim of connecting traditional craft with contemporary design. Previous collaborators include Sebastian Herkner, Cristina Celestino, Mae Engelgeer and Pauline Deltour, each of whom brought their creative expertise to Ames, creating objects, accessories, textiles and furniture. 

Black clay being handled in the workshop

An artisan at work on the black clay lampshade.

(Image credit: courtesy Ames)

The Raiz collection by Studioilse combines two traditional materials, namely black clay for the shades, and woven palm normally used by artisans to create hats, bags and ornamental objects. For each element, Ames worked with specialised workshops.

Made in Tolima, the black shades are created by two family-owned businesses, which have been operating in the area for decades, working with local potters to create the distinctive objects. The production of each shade takes weeks, a combination of several manual processes. The black clay is dug out of the ground alongside the Magdalena river, then mixed with water to create a mixture that is then shaped by hand. Once dry (a process that can take several days), the lamp shades are placed inside a wood-fired kiln, and fired at low temperatures (making this an energy-efficient, sustainable process). A different process lies behind the coloured shades, featuring a glossy glazed finish. 

Ames also worked with the Departamento Nariño in Southwest Colombia, a region known for its workshops that specialise in crafting with iraca palm fibres. Another material-led process, it involves dying the fibres with seeds, leaves, nuts and roots, then drying them for up to six days, and finally weaving them by hand using tweezers, needles and tongs.  

Bedside lamp with glazed terracotta shade by Studioilse

Table lamp from the Raiz Collection.

(Image credit: Courtesy Ames)

 A big part of Ames’ work in every collection is to insert a contemporary approach into century-old techniques, convincing craftspeople to move away from traditional forms and functions into unexplored territories.

The lamps in the ‘Raiz’ collection feature simple forms, a conscious decision to ensure artisans can efficiently work on the pieces, but also an aesthetic choice. Explains Crawford: ‘When we’re [designing interiors], sometimes what’s missing is that warm, human and tactile design you want everywhere.’

Drying clay photographed from above

Drying clay.

(Image credit: Courtesy Ames)

Artisan at work on black clay lampshade by Ames

Artisan at work shaping the lampshade.

(Image credit: Courtesy Ames)


Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.