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Sustainability From the Start: Q & A with Cerno

Design News

Sustainability From the Start: Cerno Lighting

Cerno’s Plura Flush Mount features a beautifully minimalist design with linear elements..

Cerno, a California-based modern lighting studio, is known for its understated modern lighting designs, most of which feature elegant wood elements. Fusing quality and efficiency has been a Cerno hallmark, illustrated in a collection of refined pendants, sconces and floor lamps in which clean geometric forms and energy efficient LEDs yield lamps designed to effortlessly complement contemporary interiors. Cerno's focus on responsibly sourced materials and local manufacturing has kept the company on the forefront of sustainable design, and Cerno founders Nick Sheridan, Dan Wacholder, and Bret Englander were happy to talk about their company's ongoing commitment to well crafted, eco friendly lighting.

You define yourselves as an eco-conscious company. Tell us why that's important to you.

Growing up in Laguna Beach, you have the ocean on one side and the coastal mountains on the other side. Since we were young learning to care for our natural environment was part of our education. When we started Cerno it was really important for us to make sure we were being responsible with the natural resources we used and while we are 100% eco-conscious, there are always opportunities to do more, which we are continually exploring.

Making your products locally is one aspect of sustainability. Is there anything else about manufacturing in America that makes it easier to be eco-conscious?

Not only do we make things locally, but we make everything under one roof. Being vertically integrated allows us to make products quite efficiently and limits the numbers of trips that the materials and products take during their lifecycle.

Additionally, making everything under one roof always us to control quality and ensure no aspect of the design gets lost in translation. Making a high-quality product, that is built to last – so it doesn’t end up in a landfill - is probably the most environmentally responsible thing a manufacturer can do.

"When we started Cerno it was really important for us to make sure we were being responsible with the natural resources we used..."

Cerno Lighting Tersus Wall Light

The Tersus LED Wall Light by Cerno, featuring a slab of Carrara marble

Cerno Lighting's Nick Sheridan

Cerno's Director of Design, Nick Sheridan


Many lighting companies define sustainability as LED technology, and little beyond that. Can you talk about how Cerno goes beyond energy efficiency in creating sustainable lighting?

LEDs are very energy-efficient and what we primarily use. Additionally, material yield is huge for sustainability and we try to use all of our materials responsibly. We always strive to get the highest yields possible out of our raw materials. We repurpose or recycle most of our drop aka scrap material. We sell our scrap metal to a recycling company and we give away our scrap wood to local makers.

In some of your designs, like Lenis, Plura and Tersus, wood, a defining characteristic of Cerno lamps, is less prominent. When you select materials other than wood, do you still do so with sustainability in mind?

We always have it on our minds and always strive to source materials responsibly. Our team does a fantastic job of understanding how to use each material and we select the material that best suits the product we are designing.

However, there is always more that can be done. David Trubridge, for example, recently got rid of all plastic in his products, we really respect that and him for all he does for the environment.

Cerno Lighting Founders

Cerno’s Plura Flush Mount features a beautifully minimalist design with linear elements.

Cerno founders, pictured above (left to right): Nick Sheridan, Dan Wacholder, and Bret Englander.