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Kovac Family is a Sweden-based multidisciplinary company launched in 2012 with visions for a better and (quite literally) brighter future. They're a family of creatives, working with sustainability at the core of everything they do. 

What first got us interested in Kovac Family was their Numbers lamps that looks like some kind of wooden seashell and are, as you can see, quite beautiful. While contemplating whether to make an online order (they only sell the products themselves to avoid retail markups) we realized the lamps where not only pretty, but sustainably made as well. However, Kovac Family doesn’t just make eco-friendly lighting; they’re currently researching natural light sources in collaboration with Biomimicry, and are soon to launch an online service for other creative professionals. After browsing their site (there is quite a lot to see), trying to get the whole picture, we couldn’t help but wonder: who are these people? So we asked.

Who are and what you do? You seem to have a very interesting business set up!

– Thank you! We are Christopher and Camilla Kovac, literally the Kovac family, founders and operators designing and developing products like the 25Lamp, and services like a web-based collaboration tool for image professionals (to be launched soon).

Where does your interest in sustainability and the sense of environmental responsibility come from, and how does this apply to your business?

– Realizing that designing for other companies was not fulfilling, we just decided that wasn’t something we could keep on doing. Our thoughts went: “if we are going to design a new product, it has to be sustainable when it comes to materials and production. And equally important: it has to have a purpose, not just be a good-looking object”.

How are you trying to make greener choices in your everyday life?

– We are vegans, and this is the number one step to take if you have the ambition to save our climate. As we are whole food vegans, this means no shortcuts. We clean our office with eco-friendly products; we gave away our car and joined a carpool, to mention a few things.

What are your biggest worries when it comes to the environment, and how do you think we can solve them (if at all possible)?   

– Worries doesn’t change or solve anything, we try to stay positive and focus on what we can do that have a positive effect—like developing a light source with no need for electricity. In general we believe that every action, from your everyday grocery shopping to how you choose means of transportation, counts, and we can all contribute with our everyday actions. For example: check if your face lotion or cookies contains palm oil. If they do, don’t buy them. We need to preserve the rainforest.

“Our idea was to design a product that would fund our research project on sustainable light”

How did you come up with the idea for the Numbers lamp collection, and how would you describe this invention?

– Our idea was to design a product that would fund our research project on sustainable light: “design funding” instead of crowd funding! We had received start-up funds from Vinnova—Sweden’s innovation agency—and came up with this idea to source more funding for the project independently, without external financiers. We wanted to create a product made of very few parts and materials. We literally kept count, hence the name Numbers.

The lamps are sustainably made in Sweden. What can you tell us about the design process and sourcing of materials?

– We are constantly eager to look for more eco-friendly materials. When we design and produce a new product we are always asking suppliers a lot of questions, like: “Do you have an eco-friendly alternative? What kind of materials are included in this cord? Do you have a textile for the cord that is eco friendly?” and so on. Surprisingly often we get the answer “oh, I don’t know”, or ”no, this is impossible, you would have to order so much in order to make it profitable for us to start producing with an eco friendly yarn in your cords”. The tone is often a bit irritated. We try hard to have great ongoing communication, even when our jaws drop by some of the answers we get, like: ”we haven’t heard these questions before”.

You’re currently working to come up with “a natural light source” in collaboration with Biomimicry. What can you tell us about this project and the challenges you’re faced with?

– We have to keep a lid on the interesting parts, but we can quote Janine Benyus, co-founder of Biomimicry 3.8: ”We believe it’s time to learn from nature’s well-adapted strategies to create a more sustainable human approach to lighting. For the hundreds of millions of years, life has been generating, amplifying and transmitting light economically and efficiently. We are confident that the answers we seek have already been invented.”

What’s in your pipeline right now, and what are your future goals?

– Expanding our product line! Right now we are working on a chair and a very flat and foldable lampshade. We are also working hard on our digital platform for image professionals called Kovac Factory—a service for storing, sharing and collaborating. It is a creative, fun and social place to work in, where you can also showcase your work and find new collaborations. Last, but most importantly, we’ll continue our natural light source project.

Camilla and Christopher Kovac of Kovac Family, and Numbers lamp.

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