“The PMA Craft Show is truly unique in how it offers direct connectivity with clients and consumers while also being a show with a highly curated approach.” ~ Ben Gillespie
Connectivity is the perfect word to introduce Ben Gillespie, the person behind the light source of the company OVUUD. A Philadelphia-based lighting designer and woodworker, Ben has mastered the art of visually and actually bending light and wood, to create his unique and utilitarian lighting fixtures. Working out of his Port Richmond studio, Ben utilizes locally sourced wood and the latest lighting technologies in how each piece looks as well as functions. The results are Scandinavian-inspired pieces that are individually distinctive yet cohesive as a collection.
Though Ben has been working with light and wood for many years, it’s only in the last three years that he has developed his OVUUD concepts and fabrications. Luckily he found the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show as a place to exhibit and sell his fine craft, to the delight of not only the attendees but the sponsors as well. At last year’s Show, Ben was the recipient of the acclaimed Wharton Esherick Prize for Excellence in Wood, an honor he does not take lightly. “As both a Philadelphian (born and raised) and a woodworker, it was an incredible honor”, says Ben. “The PMA Craft Show has so many extremely talented craftspeople exhibiting. I was genuinely surprised when they called my name. It is a great honor to win in general, but especially among such talented company. Over the years, my work has become more sculptural in nature, and Esherick’s work is a huge inspiration to me. I am very humbled to be the recipient of such a prize.”
Wharton Esherick was an internationally known artist and sculptor whose place among noted 20th century artists is set in stone, with work in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Smithsonian Institution. The Wharton Esherick Museum has been a longtime sponsor of the Award for Excellence in Wood at the PMA Craft Show.
Ben has always been interested in woodworking, even as a kid. When his woodworking and lighting merged, it evolved into the passionate work he does today. Primarily in private home collections, Ben’s work can also be seen at Condesa restaurant in Philadelphia and he is excited to soon be starting a lighting piece for a public lobby space in center city. Ben’s love of architecture informs his designs. “I am always looking up when walking through center city”, he says. “I love to see how spaces are developed and how they’re filled. Visually, I find it really satisfying - and I think it ultimately gives me inspiration as to how to fill space with my pieces.” This philosophy segues nicely into Ben’s growing clientele. Getting positive feedback from clients means a lot and he says that delivering a piece and seeing and hearing his client’s enjoyment is his biggest achievement. “Being able to conceive an idea and then translate it into a physical embodiment by directly using my hands is incredibly gratifying to me. I am very thankful for each piece that I am able to hand-build and deliver.”
In addition to the Wharton Esherick prize, one of Ben’s favorite aspects of the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show was to connect with other craftspeople and potential customers. He also appreciates the impact of social media, especially Instagram where he can curate how pieces are presented and share some of the building process with his audience.
Ben’s work has been featured in national magazines including World of Interiors, House & Garden, and Architectural Digest online blog.
We look forward to seeing where Ben’s light shines next. Take a look around his world here.