Congratulations, Fire Farm - Spotlight shines on Elkader firm

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By Pam Reinig

Register Editor

The “belle” of the ball at a recent Las Vegas trade show was a massive, dome-shaped fixture created by Fire Farm, a custom lighting design company in Elkader. Belle earned a “Best New Lighting Award” in the Individual Lamps/Lighting Devices category as well as the grand prize—“Best in Competition,” beating designs shown by nearly 800 companies, including some of the biggest names in the lighting industry.

Founded and owned by Adam Pollock, Fire Farm is known for its bold and dramatic pieces crafted with non-traditional materials and manufacturing techniques. Belle is one of the largest metal pendant fixtures the company has ever undertaken. Made from 16-gauge spun steel, its outer surface is hand finished with a blackening patina that accentuates its industrial beauty. The gold-leafed interior casts a warm pool of light “that creates a comforting embrace to those within her sphere of influence.”

The 100-pound piece took two weeks to create. 

“We decided to embrace the industrial quality of the piece and accentuate its rough, raw character,” Pollock said, explaining Belle’s design process. “But we also wanted some contrast to soften it and make it warm, welcoming and less intimidating. We brought in some new finishes that we’d been exploring in smaller pieces and added the gold-leaf, which we had not worked with before. The combination seems to have been a success with the exterior having a raw, turn-of-the-century industrial steel quality and the interior a much warmer, softer golden glow.”

Though the piece is unusual, giving it a name was a Fire Farm standard practice.

“We try to name all of our creations,” Pollock said. “It makes them easier for people to relate to, remember and order than merely a number (which they also have). We want the client to resonate with the piece in some way. A lot of thought goes into the name, maybe to add another layer of meaning or humor to make it interesting and memorable. Belle seemed to reflect both the idea of a large cast bell in scale, but also ‘the Belle of the ball’ in its elegance and attention-getting presence.”

Pollock added that his company hopes to make many Belles in different sizes and finishes, including copper or silver leafing or solid paint colors.

Launched by Pollock in an Oakland, CA garage in 1991 and moved to Elkader in 2001, Fire Farm is celebrating its 25th anniversary as a business in 2016. 

“This is a big year for us with many exciting changes,” Pollock said. “We saw two long-time employees retire, Shirley Staake and Janine Schiller. Craig Bennett has been promoted to Director of Operations and has implemented many positive changes that are helping us grow. He has hired three new staff to join our team, Casey Hulteng, Cody Whittle, and Adam Scott. They join our long-time employees Bob Griffith, Gail Fisher, Vicki Rodenberg, Darcy Miehe, and Jim Walch in making our work so special.”

“In addition, we have a new Director of Design, Gordon Jee, who works offsite in coordination with local Rockadot star Naomi Hulteng to create our visual message. Recently, industry veteran and expert, Stephen Rice joined us as our Consulting Vice President of Sales and Marketing. The success of Belle at this show is a result of the coordinated efforts of this really great team of people. We are working together to lay the groundwork for what the next 25 years of Fire Farm will look like.”

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