Top Lighting Designers Discuss Their Inspirations
March 12, 2012 - 9:04am

Exotic Influence
Designer: Linda Donohue
Company: Shawna Stoney

Shawna Stoney’s tasteful mix of exotic raw
materials has been lending organic sophistication
to the company’s line of furniture, decorative accessories and lighting for more than 10 years

“Our style has often been described as tropical or organic contemporary. We are a family business. My dad is Danish and has been in the furniture business for almost 40 years, and I was raised in it. I think our Scandinavian background has led us to appreciate clean, simple lines and classic designs. We are inspired by everything around us and by the ability to use exotic materials like mother of pearl, pressed bamboo, handmade paper and stone inlay in our designs.

 “Simple shapes mixed with texture are appealing to us. Many of these shapes naturally lend themselves into lighting designs.

 “When we design new product, we are always thinking about collections. We want to be able to provide a complete look for our customers, and lighting is just as important as dining or occasional categories.”

The Fifth Element
Designer: Frank Lefebvre
Company: Bleu Nature

Founded in 1995 in Lille, France, Frank Lefebvre’s Bleu Nature is one
of the most distinctive companies in the international marketplace today. Made from shore-salvaged driftwood, Bleu Nature’s line of home furnishings, accessories and lighting speaks to Lefebvre’s wish to balance the luxuries of the modern world with the beauty of nature.

“Driftwood is my leitmotif, my fifth element. Its authentic forms, its natural patina and its shipwrecked story are fascinating to me. Bleu Nature’s style is the contrast and the harmony between the tortuous forms of driftwood and the geometrical forms of structures. There is a game of balance, a game of volume between the randomness of driftwood and the chosen, simple, geometric forms of structures.

 “For the furniture, the structures are the square of a table, the rectangle
of a bench. [For lighting] it is the geometry of a round, rectangular or square lamp shade or of a round, rectangular or square base.
 “At the beginning, [lighting] was the best way to show driftwood to advantage. Ten years ago, people were not ready to appreciate a piece of driftwood on a simple sculpture, so I found a compromise and added lights to my creations.
 “Today, we still find that lighting is one of the best ways to present driftwood because of the game of shadow on driftwood and on lamp shades. The light gives another dimension to the creations.

 “For me, lighting is a good way to express myself.”


Pure Personality
Designer: Allan Palecek
Company: Palecek

Since 1975, Palecek has been turning out a unique product line of organically inclined furniture, accessories and lighting inspired by company President Allan Palecek’s experiences in Asia and Europe.

“We are well-known for our unique, handcrafted aesthetic—the natural look. We bring in [raw materials] from all over the world. What we do is constantly changing. Our style builds on products and successes we’ve had previously, but it is always our interpretation based on better product and limited production; that is the overriding theme that ties it all together.

“When designing any of our products, we set out to create a look. Lighting is an important part of that. For example, in October we are rounding out our Lodge look, which has been a success, and introducing larger lighting pieces.

 “We want our lighting to serve as a piece of art in addition to a functional product. In keeping with our personality, a lot of work
has gone into each piece—hand-painting, hand-etching. These
qualities run through our line and set us apart from other companies.
Lighting, like the rest of our line, must reflect these values.”


Express Line
Designer: Alison Legge
Company: Jadora

Inspired by her experiences both in the United States and now in her new home in Vietnam, Jadora founder Alison Legge turns her passion for creativity and design into her company’s unique line of home furnishings and accessories.

“The Jadora aesthetic is a focus on clean yet innovative lines. Our lighting designs play off of our use of lines in our furniture but take them to the next level—one step further. We then use the materials of the lighting to make our final statement by adding color and texture. The wide variety of colors and materials (silks, brass mesh,
woods, metals, embroidery, linens) defines the expressive nature of our collection. 
 “We have chosen to do lighting because it brings expression and personality to our line. People often feel that they need to be ‘safe’ in their look with furniture but are more open with accessories. I think this is where people have fun expressing themselves through the decor of their house. Lighting is the most expressive of accessories because, as cliche as it sounds, it illuminates. It illuminates everything from a dark, small space that needs to be dressed up to a huge room. The light in a space sets the tone, creates the mood.”

Nature’s Best
Designer: Brad Huntzinger and Kate McIntyre
Company: Oly

Since 1999, California-based Oly has been blending the old with the new, treating antique forms to a contemporary turn.

McIntyre: “Oly aims for a fresh look with clean versions of classic designs and our own twist. Organic materials and natural forms are an endless source of inspiration for us. We try to harmonize unexpected elements and influences to create an intriguing yet comfortable environment.”

Huntzinger: “Often the materials themselves lead the way [when it comes to translating our look to lighting]. We might like the way a simple case piece shows off a certain wood grain and
then decide to show it off further in a simplified, rustic wood chandelier. The same could be said for more extravagant materials like shell and antiqued mirror: Let’s hang it up and light it!”

McIntyre: “We’ve had good success with our lighting, but that may be because we are so enchanted ourselves by the possibilities lighting presents. It’s really where you get to bring the magic. The effect is so dramatic that we never try to judge an installation we’re doing until the
lighting is in place.”

East Meets West
Designer: Lam Lee
Company: The Lam Lee Group

Distinctly recognizable, The Lam Lee Group’s collection of casegoods and accessories incorporates a signature aesthetic that is a reflection of CEO/Design Director Lam Lee’s travels around the world. The company was founded in 1981.

“I am of Chinese heritage [and am instilled] with the Oriental aesthetic sense and traditional values. My studies in Hong Kong under the British educational system offered me the opportunity to learn the Western culture. [During] my collegiate years in the 1970s, the social, economic and political movements all became an inspiration to my developing philosophy of art. It was no longer simply creating something beautiful, but a reflection of life. My numerous travels between the East and West in the last 25 years [have allowed] me to take a global perception of life. This evolving concept continues to influence my design style.

 “I think light itself is decorative. I try to interpret a sculptural, three-dimensional yet beautiful form into my lighting design. On top of functionality, I hope my lighting can possess the same unique
properties as my accessories—handcrafted, using a mix of materials,
innovative and very decorative.
 “My collection can be cross-merchandised by different product categories—art, accessories, lighting, furniture and textiles. I also hope that my lighting can become a major part in interior decoration. The lighting carries strong artistic elements.
 “The interesting part is that aesthetic cannot be overwhelming because lighting must be functional, and you cannot ignore the structural and engineering details.
 “I think the most challenging part for me is to adjust myself in the design process from accessories to lighting. The former can be wild and free, and there is no boundary for my imagination and creation. The latter has structural limitations to follow.”

Oh, Happy Day
Designer: Jonathan Adler
Company: Jonathan Adler

Gleeful show business dropout Jonathan Adler sold his first pottery designs to Barneys New York in 1994. Today, the designer has incorporated his “happy chic” aesthetic into a wildly successful, full-spectrum line of home furnishings.

“I believe that design should be unimpeachably chic but not off-putting as so much design is. I take design very seriously; I can wax rhapsodic over the silhouette of a vase, or I can lose sleep over a misplaced button detail on a sofa. But I don’t think that the end result should be overly serious. I want to make things that look good and make you feel good.

 “Lighting is the key to everything. It’s the most under-considered and, I think, most important part of a room, and I’m obsessed with it.

 “The basic DNA of my lighting collection comes from my pottery and textiles collections. You’ll see some of my signature sinuous silhouettes and my groovy graphic patterns and colors. I’m excited [about my new lighting line] because now I’ll finally be able to have the lights I’ve dreamed of.”

Trend Base
Designer: Mark Moussa
Company: Arteriors Home

Home furnishings industry veteran Mark Moussa
founded Arteriors Home in 1987. The grand success
of his company’s recent expansion into lighting fixtures
can be greatly attributed to how well the new line coordinates with Arteriors’ existing, trend-forward assortment of accents.

“The inspirations for our designs and displays come from actively living in and observing everything around us: the fashions, the architecture, the colors, the textures, the materials, the technology, the magazines, the book covers, the movies and more. All of it stimulates and inspires ideas.

“We do not perceive or treat the lighting any differently than the accent furniture or decorative accessories or wall decor categories. We use the same or similar materials, colors, shapes. The difference is that with lighting we have an opportunity, because of the fabrics on the lamp shades, to further explore the juxtaposition of style motifs and materials and colors and textures. The lighting simply adds another level and layer of texture to the assortment.

 “For Arteriors Home, [adding lighting] was a natural progression of the designs we were already doing, and it allowed us to offer our customers lighting that corresponded to the accessory designs and aesthetics they were already buying and responding to. We first introduced lighting in 1995, and 10 years later at the April 2005 High Point Market, we introduced a full line of chandeliers and wall sconces, which now includes more than 100 items.

 “One of the interesting things is that oftentimes the lamps we think are a little out-there or a bit outrageous—and most certainly a departure from what is normally done—are the greatest successes.”

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