Trends: Old and new ideas for lighting
You’ve planned the perfect interior remodel. Flooring, wallpaper, furniture, mirrors, art, windows, doors, countertops, sinks and accent colors have been chosen.
But all that hard work can be undermined if your personal palace isn’t illuminated properly. Lighting fixtures need just as much careful consideration as any other aspect of your redesign — they often occupy a prominent spot in your home, and they’re the natural object of focus as soon as they’re turned on.
And there are new, cutting-edge ways to bring lighting into your home. Light switches will soon be obsolete.
“I have been in this business for 28 years, and the last couple of years have seen more changes than maybe the previous 26,” said Houman Shir, managing director and founding partner of Euro Moda, a new high-end lighting and furniture store in Irvine, Calif.
It’s a fascinating time — traditionalism co-exists with the avant-garde, and new technologies have revolutionized his industry, Shir said.
“Chandeliers are popular; so is the mid-century look. But then we have pieces like this, which are very popular as well.” Shir pointed to a Spanish-made light that looked like an unfurling Mobius strip; its thin surface was a continuous band of bright, warm light. “Everything depends on what kind of statement you want to make. But there are so many more possibilities now.”
Here are some fixtures, looks and technologies that are trending, according to Euro Moda, other lighting retailers and important online sources of home-design ideas such as lushome, houzz and Pinterest.
Artisanal fixtures: Anything that looks hand-hewn and rustic is big this year, especially when paired with styles of the moment such as the farmhouse look (whitewashed board-and-batten siding and reclaimed wood). Hand-painted finishes, antique mirrored glass, hammered metal and scrollwork are common features of such lighting fixtures, which usually hew to traditional shapes such as swan necks and funnel shades.
Connectivity: Smart homes are no longer science fiction, and lighting is an important part of that revolution. Wireless technology is making its way into all aspects of home design, and lighting control is no exception. Radio frequency-based systems are the standard technology, but there are other choices, including power-line communication, which uses power transmission lines to carry data to and from your fittings. With programs such as Insteon and WeMo, your lights can now be controlled by smartphone or computer. Lights are an integral part of the Internet of things: many elements of your domestic environment — from the toaster to the fridge — can now perform autonomously through programming and predetermined commands.
Futuristic lighting: Unusual designs, complex shapes, wall sconces and floor lamps that resemble spaceships perched to take off – the pride of many showrooms are lighting fixtures that look like they’ve traveled here from some “Jetsons” future. European designers dominate this category: Italy’s Artemide Group and FLOS, Holland’s Moooi and British design group Tom Dixon.
LED dominance: Fixtures that use light-emitting diodes consume much less energy than other light sources. Also, they produce a fraction of the heat, meaning your air conditioner doesn’t have to work as hard during the warm season. LEDs don’t contain mercury, so they’re generally healthier than some traditional lights. They can also be built into furnishings and other unusual areas, and they last a long time compared to traditional light bulbs. Manufacturers who had been using old technologies such as metal halide and cold cathode are finally replacing them with LEDs. And you can program some LED products to change color and intensity.
Mid-century modern look: “Mad Men” may be over, but its look lives on. Popular furniture, textiles, colors and fixtures from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s celebrate the simple lines and meticulous craftsmanship of mid-century modern design. Many lighting manufacturers, including Kichler, Progress Lighting, Hinkley and Sonneman, are making lighting fixtures in midcentury style.
Oversize fixtures: Lighting fixtures that are bold focal points, especially in living and dining rooms, are becoming a requirement in stylish homes. Large pendant lamps over kitchen islands and dining room tables are part of this look. Homes with tall ceilings or a two-story foyer are ideal for oversize hanging lights and multitiered chandeliers, which can make a dramatic statement if they’re the first fixture that people see when they enter your home. They naturally draw the eye upward.
Seashell lighting: If you’ve got a home near the beach, this might be the inspiration you’ve been waiting for. Well-made seashell fixtures showcase the colors and textures of natural sea shells. Polished shells add pizzazz — they reflect light in every direction to create a beautifully dramatic effect. Many fixture designs incorporate other nautical traits, and they’re proving very popular in beachside homes. Imitation ship lanterns are big. So are fixtures sealed with beveled or seeded glass.
Warm-colored metal: Bronze, brass and gold tones are making their mark everywhere, including in light fixtures. Metallic hues are warmer, and designers are less leery now of mixing two or three metallic looks in one object: gold with silver, copper with brass. Gone are the days when one finish characterizes the entire house.