Leslie Keno Takes Us Behind His New Lighting Line
Leslie Keno, one half of the Keno Brothers, speaks about the design duo’s new lighting line for Theodore Alexander.
 
Leslie (right) and Leigh Keno

Leslie Keno: Harvey Dondero, CEO of Theodore Alexander, said when we first started the partnership that we could pretty much make anything. Within reason, what he said has basically been true. Because of the incredible metalsmiths and craftsmen, we were able to produce pieces that other companies can’t make. Our cast brass is made using the lost-wax technique where wax melts out within the mold as molten brass is poured in. This was used to make the frame on the Glow floor lamp. It’s huge, about 66 inches high. It’s primal, and people have different reactions to it. Some have this gut instinctual reaction to it like art. Is it a lamp or is it sculpture? It’s a fine line. It has beautiful, gorgeous wood and parchment. Put it in the corner, and it glows and creates ambiance.

Sculpture and sculptural aspects are very important to both Leigh and I. As identical twins, we have pretty much identical taste. When we were fine-tuning Glow, for example, we’d go to the factory, look at the prototype, and revise. I noticed that each of us had the same exact thought. We’d both sit down and say, “Okay, this lamp is too short. This shade shouldn’t be curved.” One of us thought about the materials, and the other thought about how the light would be used in the room. Is it going to be a glow, or will it direct light up by sitting on the floor?

My [day] job is to evaluate and judge pieces of mostly American furniture, where subtle proportions, wood quality and the carving of each piece can make the difference between bad, good, better, best and masterpiece. So many times, I’ve seen a Queen Anne chair made in the 18th Century, and I’ll say, “I wish the back [of this chair] was just a few inches taller. It would be perfect proportions. And, the seat is a little too deep. I wish the S-shaped curve of the cabriole leg were a little bit more subtle. It’s too extreme.” 

When my brother and I were about 12, we started comparing wrought iron hinges in upstate New York. The ones with more craftsmanship and more beauty were crafted by blacksmiths in the early 19th Century who tried their best to make whimsical, wonderful pieces using their imagination. So early on, we learned the art of grading pieces, looking at quality, construction, the wood, proportion, line and carving. 

In this first collection, Reflection has a series of circular, mirrored, double-plated glass discs that are sort of aqua blue with a chrome base. The shade is conical and layered. It’s proportionally perfect. Light reflects on these different levels, because the circles get wider at the center and smaller at the top and bottom. It’s like a ball made of fluorine discs — a bit of a space-age effect, yet beautiful and reflective.

  • Leslie (right) and Leigh Keno
  • The 66-inch Glow floor lamp from the Keno Bros. line for Theodore Alexander inspires strong reactions to its sculptural presence. www.theodorealexander.com

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