Chandeliers have long been the Rolls Royce of lighting. Once reserved for opulent entryways, the iconic lighting element has evolved into a much more versatile option for today’s homes.
The word chandelier first surfaced in the English language in 1736, borrowed from the Old French word chandelier, which comes from the Latin candelabrum. A signature of lighting design, the origins of the chandelier go back for centuries. The multi-branched, ceiling-mounted, dangling fixture continues to be popular, both in its traditional forms as well as more modern iterations designed and made by today’s artisans.
TRADITIONAL CRYSTAL CHANDELIERS
Ask most people to picture a chandelier and the first thing that comes to mind is an old world European style chandelier, such as the Zenith Chandelier by Baccarat:
And while Baccarat’s collection of chandeliers also includes modern versions like the Lady Crinoline Chandelier Comète and their Philippe Starck and Marcel Wanders designed chandeliers, chances are your budget may not warrant such an extravagance.
If still desiring a traditional look, these Schonbek Chandeliers made with Swarovski Crystals may be just the thing.
True to the company’s reputation for meticulous craftsmanship, each premium Schonbek chandelier is made-to-order, shining with a special character in more than 10,000 combinations of finishes, crystal types, and styles. The result is lighting of exceptional grandeur that is appreciated by traditionalists and modernists alike.
Swarovski also has an enormous selection of contemporary chandeliers made with the same care and craftsmanship as those in the Schonbek collection.
Taking design cues and materials from traditional crystal chandeliers, but creating them in unexpected shapes is Dutch designer Hans van Bentem‘s Rock and Royal custom chandeliers. Shaped like everything from guns to skulls, they are great for unusual homes, hotels and retail environments.
At present it appears that Rock and Royal is no longer in business, but you can see a large collection of their custom chandeliers here.
Chandeliers needn’t be only for ornate or formal homes. Karen Eaton of Ironware International, Inc. has brought the original designs of master blacksmith Pierre Picard, in a partnership with David Duboscq in France, to America. Each of their 500+ designs is still handmade, one at a time, in a small village in Normandy with any of the 35 available finishes meticulously hand applied by the skilled artisans at the Ironware studio in Nashville.
With designs spanning classic to modern -and so many possible finishes- these chandeliers have a wide range of looks, yet all of them are more approachable and informal than crystal. This makes them suitable for countless styles of homes such as old or renovated farmhouses, mountain cabins, industrial studios, beach homes, medieval castles, rustic Italian villas, garden homes – you get the idea.
A sampling of their enormous and varied collection of chandeliers is shown below.
MID-CENTURY MODERN CHANDELIERS
Some of today’s most popular chandeliers are a resurgence of designs from the past. With the pervasive enthusiasm for Mid-Century Modern style, George Nelson Bubble Lamps , 1950’s Atomic style chandeliers and the classic Louis Poulsen Artichoke Pendant are all as hot as they were when first in demand over 60 years ago.
The Artichoke Pendant by Louis Poulsen
According to the Louis Poulsen website, The PH Artichoke was initially designed in 1958 by Poul Henningsen for the Langelinie Pavillonen restaurant in Copenhagen, where it still hangs today. PH Artichoke has a world-famous unique sculptural design, and is viewed as an international design icon. The steel fixture has 72 leaves, positioned so as to provide totally glare-free light from any angle.
The precisely positioned leaves form 12 unique rows of six leaves each. They illuminate the fixture as well as emitting diffused light with a unique pattern. For the energy saving LED variant the quality of light and atmosphere surrounding the product is kept at the highest level. To ensure quality, much of the production process is still carried out by hand.
The steel PH Artichoke is available in the following four finishes: brushed and coated Copper or Stainless Steel; White, wet painted; or in high-polished Stainless Steel.
The Glass Version
In 2008, they created a glass version of the PH Artichoke. Like the steel version, it’s 100% glare free, but the etched glass gives it a transparency to offer a lighter looking aesthetic.
Like the steel version, the Glass PH Artichoke is available in various wattages and sizes.
Below are two very different takes on the Sputnick Chandelier.
First, the steel and brass Sputnick Chandelier from Southern Lights Electric. It has eleven arms and can be outfitted with large or small bulbs, changing its appearance, as shown below:
Secondly, there’s the Aragon chandelier designed by Sean Levin. It’s a very modern take on the Sputnik light in both appearance and technology. Available in either Satin Nickel or White finish, it’s an LED chandelier that has a total of 98 total watts, delivering 2950 lumens. It has a low-voltage electronic dimmer, integrated ball joint and accommodates sloped ceilings up to 45°
SCULPTURAL AND ART CHANDELIERS
Then there are artisans who call their lights “lamp sculptures.” Dale Chihuly, Murano Glass Artists and Tord Boontje are some examples. Another is Netherlands-based Brand van Egmond who specializes in designing the finest handcrafted lighting sculptures for both residential as well as public spaces.
Shimmering golds, glass, brass and steel make for elegant but modern interpretations of the traditional chandelier with Brand van Egmond’s Arthur, Shiro and Fractal chandeliers.
Twisted steel, delicate forms and metal roses dripping with crystals in Brand van Egmond’s Candle and Spirits, Coco and Love Me, Love Me Not chandeliers provide a focal point that will likely spark some discussion. These are not for the understated.
At Brand van Egmond they believe spaces – and people – deserve a lighting sculpture that evokes emotions and adds character. The Pop Art-like look of their Nightwatch chandelier (shown below in all four colors) is certain to do that.
See all they have to offer here.
When it comes to innovation, few are as imaginative as light designer Ingo Maurer . His Comic Explosion and Birdie’s Ring are two chandeliers that are extreme examples of functional art.
Made of steel, aluminum and plastic, Maurer’s Comic Explosion has ten 20 W LED lights with light sources in the arrows, altogether approx. 37 W, approx. 16000 lm. Built-in LEDs, infinitely dimmable.
Birdie’s Ring is a new model from the family of winged lights. Birdie’s ring is height adjustable and can be mounted with a slight inclination. It’s made of metal, goose-feather wings and 12 low-voltage incandescent lamps with three LEDs integrated in the round luminaire body with reflector.
Inflatable Chandeliers? Yep.
Lastly there’s the innovative Lullaby from Puff Buff Lighting Design. The inflatable, PVC chandelier whose arms can be positioned in 3 different ways, was inspired by classic Baroque Murano Glass chandeliers.
The ironic chandelier has eight air-filled arms that give the appearance of a glass, but are featherweight. Made of transparent PVC with transparent acrylic construction and a semi-transparent 3-wire sling. The Lamp is delivered deflated.
Lighting label PUFF-BUFF was launched in 2004 by industrial & interior designer Anna Siedlecka and architect & lighting designer Radek Achramowicz. PUFF-BUFF is particularly well known for lamps and spectacular chandeliers made of air-filled parts and LED diodes. All lamps are hand-crafted in PUFF-BUFF’s studio-workshop in Warsaw.
We hope this was, for lack of a better term, illuminating!
The Wills Co.