Jill Entwistle takes a look at the best lighting projects around, focusing on the development of metal as a key material
Words by Jill Entwistle
There are few materials that haven’t been used to make luminaires – even, unbelievably, dried cod skin and cow’s innards. Probably best to draw a veil over those, but in more conventional mode, everything from concrete, wood and marble to porcelain, paper and plastic have been used in light manufacture.
Valse au Crépuscule, 120 hours in the making. Image Credit: Beazley Designs Of The Year Award
Some go in and out of fashion – polycarbonate seemed ubiquitous at one point – while others, glass and fabrics, remain classics because of tradition, cost and qualities for light transmission.
While chrome and brass have played a literal support role for decades, in recent years metal has broadened its remit, with copper becoming fashionable. It has obvious reflective properties, but as the following luminaires, both new and old, demonstrate, it has enormous potential as a sculptural material and for artisan individuality. Textured or shiny, malleable and versatile, it manifests in all forms, from ethereal paper-thin leaves to solid tubes and chains.
Lighting design: Larose Guyon
French Canadians Audree Larose and Felix Guyon founded their design studio in Vercheres, Quebec, in 2015. Their designs are complex, romantic and intricate, flavoured by natural forms, and made by local artisans using traditional techniques. For their latest collection, they have created three handcrafted and hand-assembled sculptural works, each in a limited edition of 16 pieces.
The Duvet des Chardons has the fragility of a cobweb. It carries its scale lightly: spanning nearly 2m, its 350m of gold-coloured chains are bound together by a 24 karat gold-plated solid brass structural core. The specially designed light source is encased in the cylindrical base and the centred, hand-blown glass globe, providing soft, intermittent illumination to the chains and producing subtle plays of shadow and light.
Fleurs de Velours’s brass leaves are based on those of the staghorn sumac tree, native to Canada, where Larose Guyon hails from. Image Credit: Beazley Designs Of The Year Award
The Fleur de Velours recalls the antler-like branches and burnished red colours of the autumnal Rhus typhina, or staghorn sumac tree. Its solid brass structure sprouts handcrafted brass-fibre leaves, and hand-blown glass diffusers decorated with ornamental 24 karat gold-plated pieces.
The Valse au Crepuscule features hundreds of brass fibre leaves hanging from a handwoven net of golden chains, warmly lit by suspended translucent hand-blown glass diffusers and 24 karat gold-plated ornaments. The most time-consuming to make of the three artworks, each one takes more than 120 hours to create.
Lighting design: Jonathan Coles
The hand-beaten copper design of the Copper Leaf Chandelier from Jonathan Coles is inspired by the branches of a cedar tree
Made from hand-beaten copper, heat coloured and internally illuminated, the structure of this chandelier evokes arching cedar branches. Multiple, warm white (2,200K) LED light points on braided copper cables reflect on the leaves to provide dramatic shadows above. The chandelier is available in two models: five elements with 15 light points (1,300 × 830mm), and 10 elements with 30 light points (1,600 × 1,000mm) – or it can be tailored to fit a particular space.
Copper Droplet Chandelier, CP Hart
Lighting design: StudioFractal
The innovative use of copper piping. Image Credit: James Newton Photographs
A blast-from-the-past project, dating back more than five years, StudioFractal’s design for CP Hart’s bathroom showroom (architect: Morrow + Lorraine) showcased two striking applications of copper piping as lighting installation. Located under the railway arches leading to Waterloo Station, the showroom provided the ideal gritty context for the use of copper, which was suitably industrial (and brand appropriate) while also warming the space with its rich tones.
StudioFractal’s copper lighting installations have brightened CP Hart’s Waterloo Station showroom since 2015. Image Credit: James Newton Photographs
Suspended over the entrance lobby, a large circular ceiling installation featured a 5.2m diameter disc from which a series of straight copper pipes were suspended, varying in height to create an undulating effect. A UFO LED fibre optics system with flicker wheel provided subtle animation and varying brightness levels, playing off the reflectivity of the warm-coloured metal.
Its multiple light points are ideal for covering a larger area. Image Credit: James Newton Photographs
At the far end of the showroom, a convoluted maze-like structure formed from copper piping fill delineated the curved space of the arch over the cafe bar. The intricate structure featured softly glowing LED filament lamps at the end of each pipe, forming a focal point to pull customers through the space.
Fold Linear Chandelier
Lighting design: Tigermoth Lighting
Winner of the lighting category of the 2020 SBID Product Design Awards, the chandelier is a linear array of folded brass shades. The name is based on the primary process used in manufacturing the fitting, where every piece of brass is hand-folded and assembled in such a way that there is no need for braising or welding.
‘Individually, the shades present a striking geometric shape,’ said Tigermoth founder Harriet Daniels. ‘Together, they take on an organic form.’
Tigermoth’s Fold Linear Chandelier is named after its manufacturing process. Image Credit: Beazley Designs Of The Year Award
The design has been thoroughly thought through, with the angularity of the modular ceiling fixing reflecting the geometry of the suspended elements. It also allows for varied configurations and for the overall length to be adapted.
Each of the 45 shades is illuminated, with the bronze finish hand-relieved inside the shade to reveal the brass finish beneath. All of Tigermoth’s luminaires are handcrafted in its south of England workshop.
Faraway Tree, Flower Of Life, Fuschia, Ngoma Drum Chandeliers
Lighting design: Willowlamp
Willowlamp’s Fuschia and Flower of Life chandeliers. Image Credit: Beazley Designs Of The Year Award
Adam Hoets, the founder of South African company Willowlamp, uses his own specially-devised method to create intricate, fluid lamps, pendants, chandeliers and art pieces featuring ball chains suspended from laser-cut steel frames. A tiny notch in the metal frame creates a chain curtain that is free from fasteners, allowing a greater scope for creativity, Hoets has said, who takes his inspiration from organic, natural forms.
Four of the designs have been grouped as a composite on the ceiling of the newly renovated Lucide restaurant at the Lucerne Culture and Congress Centre (KKL Luzern) on the shores of Lake Lucerne. Designed by Jean Nouvel, the building was originally completed in 2000. AtelierWest Architects has updated the restaurant’s interior, which offers impressive views of the lake.
Willowlamp’s Ngoma Drum. Image Credit: Tina Sturzenegger
One of Nouvel’s visions for the building was that the waters of the lake would be able to ‘enter’ the building, creating a flow between interior and exterior. The new interior scheme is inspired by this original notion, and reflects the concept in details used throughout, including the lighting. AtelierWest commissioned Willowlamp to create a cluster of chandeliers for Lucide.
These appear to float, jellyfish-like, from the ceiling and softly illuminate the space. The Faraway Tree chandelier is inspired by graphic representations of trees on architectural drawings. A concealed light source within a suspended uplighter dish provides the illumination.
Willowlamp’s Faraway Tree. Image Credit: Tina Sturzenegger
The award-winning Flower of Life is based on the so-called ‘sacred geometry’ symbol of that name. The intricate multilevel chandelier is also evocative of a classic 1920s style.
The Fuschia’s design recalls the form of a single fuchsia blossom, with the metal petals apparently bowing under the weight of the chain. It is lit by a suspended spiralling arrangement of pyrex glass balls.
The Ngoma Drum is a cylindrical, drum-shaped chandelier with a support frame inspired by Venetian wroughtiron design.