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