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© Greta Steinberg
© Merle Büttner
© Merle Büttner
© Merle Büttner

Jan Hempel

  • Lichtsubjekte
  • Lamp maker
  • Hamburg, Germany
  • Master Artisan
Jan Hempel Lamp maker
German, English
Monday to Friday 12:00 - 18:00
+49 (0)1795146872
© Greta Steinberg

Shining heavy metal

  • • Jan combines traditional locksmith work with modern lighting technology
  • • He transforms inorganic materials into warm-glowing beings
  • • His lights are made as companions

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Jan Hempel moved from Hamburg to East Berlin. The plan was to study design there and to be part of the burgeoning creative scene. "In my teenage years, I discovered the junkyards in the harbour of Hamburg: I was fascinated and collected a lot of bizarre formed metal pieces which I used to build my first lamps.“ In Berlin-Kreuzberg, Jan found a locksmith workshop who trained him. He had a change of heart, and instead of applying to an art academy, he decided to work as an assistant with the international Artist Group ODIOUS for a few years. In an old factory hall near the Reichstag, together with three steel sculptors, he manufactured enormous abstract sculptures for public spaces in Germany. Today, Jan continues this tradition but runs his own workshop called Lichtsubjekte in Hamburg.

Read the full interview


  • © Jan Hempel
  • © Jan Hempel
  • © Jan Hempel
  • © Jan Hempel
  • © Jan Hempel
Photo: © Jan Hempel

This small light sculpture is formed out of 98 hand forged iron tips, invisibly connected, forming a conical metal blossom. The dark grey surface is polished in order to glow when the light is on.

Height 28 cm
Diameter 12 cm

Photo: © Jan Hempel

Three semi-circular, solid steel rings enclosing an opal glass ball. Each one has a height of six centimetres and weighs nine kilograms. Despite its weight this third ring seems to float, which is enabled by a tricky welding technique and a lot of grinding and polishing work.

Height 26 cm
Diameter 37 cm

Photo: © Jan Hempel

This table lamp was created from around 2,000 nail tips welded together to form a lampshade. It is mounted on eight thin steel pipes and a solid steel platform. The object was made as a tribute to the famous Bauhaus table light, created by Wilhelm Wagenfeld about 100 years ago.

Height 51 cm
Diameter 24 cm

Photo: © Jan Hempel

This ceiling light is made out of two conical glass lenses, connected with a formed band made out of steel. The moveable object hangs between two joints, connected to each other through a bent steel pipe. Therefore, the egg-shaped corpus is moveable in all directions. The LED stripe and two sheets of a special light-reactive foil are located in the hidden space between the two glass lenses, which are responsible for the changing colour reflections inside the glasses.

Height 26 cm
Width 16 cm

Photo: © Jan Hempel
Should Be

A few hundred square wedge discs were welded together from behind to form a long lampshade with an open base. Inside the lampshade are halogen light bulbs to light up the table beneath it.

Length 100 cm
Width 22 cm
Height 20 cm

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