photo of a leaf shaped chandelier
Jean Pelle’s large scale hand-sculpted and hand-painted cast cotton Nana Lure Chandelier stole hearts at last December’s Design Miami. Courtesy Jean Pelle.

Sculptural Lighting Is Having a Moment

Taking advantage of the latest technologies, unconventional lighting design is captivating collectors in search of personal expression. Here’s a sampling of fixtures currently on view in New York and London.

Among the various typologies of contemporary design, lighting is a medium that lets designers experiment and buyers imbue their interiors with character. Since the introduction of widely available LED technologies in the mid-2000s, lamps have been liberated from the formal and functional limitations of traditional incandescent light bulbs. Luminaires have undergone a complete transformation and light can now be emitted from almost any shape or surface, delineating details and textures in unexpected ways. Carefully calibrated to different color temperatures and levels of intensity, this element can be harnessed to mimic nature, establish a mood, or depict an artistic vision. 

Recently, a number of independent designers and studios have created one-offs or limited edition fixtures that push the boundaries of common materials and challenge conventional production techniques. While some have delved deep into the realms of personal expression, socio-political satire, and playful tactility, others have implemented this typology to hone their minimalist aesthetics even further. All in all, a more sculptural approach to lighting seems to be setting the trend within home decor. As various processes continue to be refined and technologies improve, the possibilities seem endless. 

photo of a lamp made out of a blender
Franc Palaia’s Blender Lamp. Courtesy Head Hi.
photo of multiple lamps on view in a coffee shop
Installation of the Third Annual Lamp Show at Brooklyn’s Head Hi. Photos by Jonathan Hökklo courtesy of Head Hi.

Third Annual Lamp Show at Head Hi, Brooklyn

“We see contemporary lighting becoming more playful and humorous,” says Head Hi co-founder Alexandra Hodkowski. “From bananas and animals to abstract organic forms, lamps today are loaded with personality which people are really connecting with.” She and partner Alvaro Alcocer are currently hosting the third annual Lamp Show—on view at the Brooklyn-based coffee shop until March 26. The group exhibition brings together works by 50 contemporary industrial designers from around the world that are either familiar with the medium or just testing it out for the first time. The works on view range from repurposed kitchen appliances (Franc Palaia’s Blender Lamp) and children’s chairs (Gabriella Feuillet’s Ita) to narrative-driven miniatures (Rhonda Weppler and Richard Winchell’s Burning Down The House) and illuminated cacti (Ian Privett’s Glochid 01). Only a few of the pieces on offer—such as McKay Nilson’s Suyo Task Lamp—actually a riff on a traditional lamp form.  

photo of a floor lamp in a gallery
Courtesy Maryam Turkey and Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Maryam Turkey at Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Urban landscapes and decay are evident in the architectonic works of young New York-based, Iraqi talent Maryam Turkey with her Between Rise & Fall fixtures on view as part of Carpenters Workshop Gallery’s recent New Guard exhibition in New York.

photo of a large chandelier hanging in an atrium
Jeff Zimmerman’s Vine Chandelier on view at New York’s R & Company. Photo by Joe Kramm, Courtesy R & Company

Jeff Zimmerman at R & Company

Human representation and botany are making a comeback and nowhere are these motifs being better expressed than in lighting design. Celebrated glass artist Jeff Zimmerman’s massive Vine chandelier currently suspends within R & Company’s three-level atrium. “There is incredible interest in illuminated sculptures among collectors, and the market for these original works is growing,” says the gallery’s co-founder Zesty Meyers. “Light is so important to the experience and atmosphere of a space, and it seems so obvious that we sometimes forget its significance.”

photo of three lighting fixtures on view in a gallery

Barber Osgerby at Galerie Kreo in London

In London, noted British design duo Barber Osgerby is showcasing new luminaires that derive from its exploration of orthographic projection and conical forms as they appear to be the perfect forms for channeling light. The various aluminum sections and blown glass shade compositions make the most of color and refraction. “[The collection] encompasses engineered craft, our love of Venini glass, and our enjoyment of working with light to change a space,” says Jay Osgerby. The Signals exhibition is on view till March 26.  

photo of a tube chandelier hanging in a gallery above a blurred person walking under neath it

Paul Matter’s Tryst Chandelier, available through Galerie Philia

A minimalist yet articulate aesthetic is also evident in lighting collections by New Delhi studio Paul Matter and Brussels-based, Armenian designer Noro Khachatryan. While the former’s Tryst chandelier implements interlocking buff brass tubes to evoke balance, the latter’s solid brass DY lamps (sold by Los Angeles and Dallas-based gallery Garde) appear to be peeling off themselves to dramatically reveal a strip of the LED light. 

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