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  • The Art of Contemporary Lighting

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    Doug Wheeler lighting design

    Walk into any major contemporary art museum and you'll find that cross-pollination has long existed between art and furniture design, but the question arises: has contemporary lighting design seen that same infusion of creative energy? Creatives like Isamu Noguchi or Frank Gehry are recognizable international brands, artists who have branched into creating product designs for mass (albeit high end) consumption. But contemporary artists working specifically with light have not had such crossover luck.

    Nonetheless, the inspiration these artists have had on modern lighting design can't be underestimated. 

    Light and Space artists such as James Wheeler (pictured above), Eric Orr and James Turrell have been exploring the effects of light, space and perception since the 1960s. These artists have been groundbreaking in their use of media and their reductive end results have found footing in contemporary design practice.

    James Turrell installation

    Turrell's Meeting installation (above) has been on view at MOMA's PS1 gallery in New York since 1986. Turrell's technique is rather simple despite the dramatic effect it produces.

    By simply installing under cabinet lighting strategically, anyone can give their walls the "floating" appearance of Turrell's artwork. This floating look has become a predominant idiom in contemporary hospitality lighting design, as seen in this check-in desk at Hong Kong's Luxury East Hotel, designed by CL3 Architects.

    Hospitality lighting design

    Artist Dan Flavin is among some of the most influential artists of the last three decades. His use of raw fluorescent tubes and his emphasis on stark geometries has made it's impact on public spaces as well. Note the motor court entry at the bottom left of the Hotel Wilshire image below. 

    Dan Flavin Artwork

     Hotel Wilshire Los Angeles

    Recent works of art have a smaller scale, sculptural quality to them. Los Angeles artist David B. Jang created Correlation Cycles in 2010 as a sprawling fixture of circular fluorescent tubes.

    Contemporary light art

    A similar circular sculptural effect can be seen in this modern chandelier below by Possini Euro Design.

    Modern chandelier

    Possini White Cloud 15" Wide Pendant Chandelier

    Artist Lita Albuquerque's works not with light but rather its absence. Her Stellar Axis project,  was a 2006 site-specific piece that traced the stars of the nighttime sky onto the ground at the south pole. This was during the evening-less summer months when the midnight sun prevents any starlight from being seen.

    Stellar Axis by Lita Albuquerque

    Albuquerque's piece included 99 blue orbs that appeared as the negative image of stars on a white snow background. To apply this look to your home, the hand-crafted sphere-style fixture (below, right) light would do the trick.

    Study of contemporary lighting 

    Pictured on right: Besa Sphere Series 13 1/4" High Opal Matte Glass Accent Lamp

    As technologies evolve, artists will inevitably source these changing technologies as media, just as designers will inevitably continue looking to these artists for inspiration. Most of us may never transform an entire room completely into an art installation, but luckily there are plenty of sculptural contemporary chandeliers available to give the home an artistic look.  

    Images: MCASD, MOMA PS1, Luxe DB, Artcat, Vibrant Travel Solutions, Art-merge, Stellar Axis

  • From Carton to Modern Pendant Light

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    Moder pendant light

    Designer Ed Chew managed to create a modern pendant light out of drink cartons that would have otherwise ended up in landfills. We found this fun DIY project on Yanko Design, where Chew documents the different stages of how he took it from discarded drink packet to modern light fixture.

    Pendant light DIY

    Since modern pendant lights are one of my favorite accessories, I just had to share this awesome idea. Chew achieved this Epcot-like ball by unfolding the packets and then refolding them into hexagonal and pentagonal sections that are then pieced together to form a geodesic sphere.

    Modern paper pendant

    This makes you wonder what other modern home decor accessories or light fixtures can we make out of something that we might otherwise just throw away....

    Modern lighting designer

    Since we love everything related to modern design, it's no doubt this Eco-friendly DIY pendant made us take a double look!  MC49VRXP6HEC

    Images: Yanko Design

  • Alta Marea: Modern Bathroom Luxury

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    Modern wood vanity

    I was blown away by Alta Marea's modern bathroom luxury pieces with the introduction of the Must and Volo Green collections in Milan this year. I have been working with Alta Marea for many years and this not only far surpassed anything they had done in the past, but far surpassed anything I saw at the show this year! The materials, the details, the forms, the quality... it was all perfect in my eyes. The designers Perissinotto, Zanetti, and Dalto have definitely succeeded in creating "an emotion that has been transformed into lines and material."

    Modern vanity with marble countertop

    The most stunning materials in the Must Collection were the oxidized metal mixed with the gorgeous gray hue and warm copper veining of the Boschetto marble. 

    Modern metal vanity

    The countertop sits just beneath the doors to create a sunken effect. The 45 degree angle on the door is a beautiful detail that creates perfectly matched corners.

    Modern vanity, old architecture

    Is this a piece of furniture or a vanity? Where is the sink in this composition?

    Modern integrated sink

    Yet another stunning countertop detail! The rim of the sink sits flush with the door as the countertop rests just below. The use of vanity mirrors with integrated lighting create a beautiful even glow on the entire composition. Our Destiny Square Vanity Mirror is a great alternative to the one above.

    Modern laquer vanity

    And the details don't stop there! The interior, a beautiful orange, complements the marble and the matte lacquer with such bold confidence.

    Paperstone vanity

    The Volo Green line is founded on the strong desire of helping the environment. The cabinetry and countertop is made of Paperstone, an innovative material made from 100% recycled paper. It's truly genius! The simple mirrors paired with up and down wall sconces, similar to our Holtkoetter Sconce, are the perfect complement to this minimal composition. 

    Paperstone vanity, integrated sink

    A solid material, soft to the touch, that is fabricated like stone! As designer Paolo Zanetti says: “I have finally been able to do a radical, extreme project that makes no compromises, where modernity is at the service of nature. Nature doesn’t say thanks: it rejoices.”

    Images: Alta MareaAnnie May Design

  • The Modern Outdoor Bathroom

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    Modern outdoor shower

    Sure, selecting the right building materials is key when creating the look and feel that you want for your bath, or rather your personal oasis. Natural materials, such as wood and stone will give you the feeling of being at a spa or retreat. But, why not take it one step further and take your tub and shower outdoors?!

    Modern outdoor bath

    There's many ways to situate your bathtub or shower outside while still keeping it private. The stone wall (above) and wood planks enclose this bath, keeping tub time personal. Or, you could design it to be half indoors and half outdoors to give yourself a little more privacy while still soaking in the fresh air and sunlight. The exterior fence (below) keeps the space private while the wood plank flooring unites the two areas.

    Bathroom with outdoor patio

    Some of these designs require a lot of architectural planning, but if you just want to add a natural, outdoor feel to your bath without any major construction, then simply bring the outdoors in! Adding some simple greenery indoors is an easy way to lighten up your space and feel one with nature. The succulent wall art (below) is a great way to use wall space and a super trendy way to incorporate plants in your home.

    Succulent wall art indoors

    Effective home decor accessories for adding a little bit of nature can range from plants to artwork, but also the right lighting. Selecting modern lighting fixtures made of natural materials, such as our Cassandra Ceiling Light which features a natural grass cloth shade will give the feeling of nature without having to be outside.

    Whether you go big or small, adding a bit of nature to your bath or shower can give you the personal oasis you've always wanted.

    Images: Home the Lovely, Feau, Arch Daily, Flora Grubb

May, 2012