Creative new shapes and technology mean that home lighting fixtures often do far more than provide illumination. They can be exciting and sculptural works of art.
“Designs are now not only a source of light, but a distinctive feature of an interior design,” says New York architect West Chin.
Chin recently hung a frothy cluster of LED glass bubbles over a dining table in a minimalist apartment on Manhattan’s High Line. The fixture’s a focal point in an otherwise sparely decorated space. In a Flatiron duplex, he placed a trio of mesh orbs over the staircase; when the lights are on, shadows dance theatrically against a paneled feature wall.
Chin’s also a fan of Stickbulb, a lighting component created by RUX studio in New York City. The “stick” is offered in maple, walnut, reclaimed heart pine, ebonized oak or redwood that’s been salvaged from one of New York’s old water towers. Fitted with an LED, the sticks attach to a central metal element and can be configured into various shapes, like fireworks or cantilevered mobiles.
At Milan’s Salone del Mobile this April, the Euroluce lighting exhibition halls showcased LEDs and other technology in imaginative ways. Hungarian firm Manooi used Swarovski crystals to craft sinuous fixtures evocative of infinity symbols. Bocci showed fixtures made by injecting soda water into hot glass, then folding and stretching it into pearlescent pendants that looked like giant glowing ribbon candy.
Designer Tom Dixon took over Milan’s iconic old theater, Cinema Manzoni, to show his furniture and lighting. One collection was called Cut; the faceted clear or smoky fixtures, with mirrored finishes and metalized interiors, resembled enormous futuristic crystals.
“When we’re planning a room that calls for a large piece of statement lighting, we always start with that piece first, building everything else around it,” say Brandon Quattrone and Mat Sanders of Consort Design in Los Angeles.
“You want it to be the wow factor in a room.”
Designer Ghislaine Viñas did that in a Montauk, N.Y., beach house project. She hung Alvaro Catalan de Ocon’s PET Lamp chandelier in an all-white dining space. The brightly hued lights, hanging on colored cords, bring in an element of playfulness.
Other intriguing fixtures new to the marketplace employ modern technology with a nod to classic design. Corbett Lighting’s Theory ceiling fixture is an ode to mid-century Italian design, with horizontal spokes alternating clear glass and gold-leaf iron rods. Calibrated LEDs gracefully cast light up and down. Metropolis’ interconnecting, hand-forged iron cubes surround an LED light source, and the whole thing is suspended on aircraft cables. The piece melds 21st century and modernist design.
The shape of Humanscale’s Vessel quartz crystal pendant conceals a glare-free LED that makes it seem lit from within. The effect would play well in a hallway or over a long table or island.
Restoration Hardware’s collection of forged brass, steel or bronze pendants in drum, funnel or dome shapes has an industrial vibe.
Jonathan Browning was inspired by ’60s French minimalist design for his Aquitaine series, which features slender brass, nickel or bronze tapers tipped with faceted LEDs, suspended on black cords. And a turn-of-the-century Venetian design is updated in the soft curves of Icaro, with fiberglass replacing Fortuny silk, and gold or silver metal-leaf trim adding romantic flair.
At Rejuvenation Lighting, designer Brendon Farrell of Portland, Ore., has a floor lamp with an elongated linen drum shade perched on a brass stand; the stand is embedded in a white or black oak ball base. And art meets engineering in Contrapesso, O &G Studio’s pendant, in which an LED-lit glass ball is counterbalanced by a small brass or bronze globe. It’s lighting made acrobatic.