Lighting is getting louder as interior designers go for the extreme
First, it was bold wallpaper, then came layers of texture and coordinated collections of whimsical objects. In the latest iteration of extreme design – in which the bolder the better – accent lighting takes hold.
“Accent lighting fixtures are about more than just lighting,” said Andrew Bowen, partner and head of display at Manhattan-based interior design firm Ash. “It is an experience and can be a work of art. A carefully chosen piece instantly becomes the focal point of any room, adding sophistication and excitement.
Bowen argues that lighting has long been overlooked as a design element in favor of seating or tables, when in fact it is a defining element in every space.
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“The light fixtures were carefully placed, measured and literally taken into account “Set the tone of the room,” he said. “By providing illumination, these installations bring every other piece to life while at the same time being sculptural elements in their own right.”
In a nod to Bowen’s point, examples of accent lighting are increasingly common in upscale homes and real estate projects, including the unit he erected at 393 West End Ave. In Manhattan, interior designers report that clients are showing more interest in bringing it into their homes.
At the St. Regis Residences Miami, for one person, Architecture and interiors firm Rockwell Group sought to create interior spaces that were timeless and modern yet sensitive to the natural phenomena of the sea, according to studio head Greg Keifer, who led the project. With this goal in mind, he chose an oversized chandelier with crystal glass balls as the centerpiece for the project’s sales center.
“We selected the fixtures because they create drama and help center the living room space,” Kiefer said. “We looked to the ocean and waves as inspiration for the design of the overall St. Regis project, and we loved that this contained a subtle visual reference to the pearls of the sea and organic clusters found in nature.”
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Keffer added that the right lighting can create a memorable experience in any space without being overwhelming.
In another example, Los Angeles interior designer Manuela Moreira said she aims to use lighting in her projects that is functional yet a conversation piece. On a recent job for a house in the city, I got a light fixture to hang above the table in the master suite with two overlapping discs—one chrome-plated and the other emitting actual light.
“I like to mix finishes and play with size because they can add character and dimension to a space,” Moreira said.
Her client, Ashley Kelly, of West Hollywood, said she was thrilled with the result, as the discs contrasted with the room’s linear, symmetrical architecture.
“Our goal was to honor the existing structure while giving the room character,” she said. “The light fixture found by Manuela creates a captivating juxtaposition with the straight architectural lines of the room.”
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Meanwhile, the founders of Malibu-based On Pointe Design incorporated premium lighting into multiple rooms in a recent function as they redesigned a sustainable residence in Malibu called Zero Two.
For starters, this modern Hawaiian-inspired estate features a set of three black metal chandeliers in the great room.
“Not only do they accentuate the soaring vaulted ceiling, but with the room’s doors open, they act as mobiles, swaying very subtly in the Pacific breeze,” Coleman said, speaking to the pieces.
The home’s primary wing has a large loop intended to draw the eye upward and serve as a counterpart to the room’s fireplace and contemporary furniture, she said. The guest house also features a multi-armed chandelier that enhances the height of the ceiling and the spaciousness of the room.
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“Incorporating molten glass into the design creates a dazzling effect,” she said.
Homeowners gravitate toward accent lighting without the help of designers. Eileen Goetz, a lawyer in New York, is a glass collector and used a multicolored glass chandelier by Italian artist Lucio Bubacco from Murano as a central light fixture in her living room at her apartment residence in the luxury West Side development 200 Amsterdam. The piece depicts figurines from the Venice Carnival such as dancers and gondola drivers.
“The chandelier is fun and makes me happy,” she said. “It’s also a conversation piece for anyone who walks in.”