I find it ironic that the biggest trend at the June Dallas Market (one that has been building for quite some time and shows no sign of stopping) was vintage industrial fixtures, featuring open, minimalist forms that seemed designed for the sole purpose of showcasing a nostalgic bulb. Just two months prior at Lightfair, the industry was punching its express ticket to the future, turning out LED technologies that continue to advance in output, optics and color temperature range.
Adding to the irony, two companies that exhibit at both shows were perhaps the last places I expected to find this trend: Bulbrite and Nuvo Lighting. Bulbrite’s first foray into fixtures featured wiry cages and mirrored shades echoing a past era. The company considered it a logical extension to create products that celebrate bulbs as a decorative element.
Perhaps that also motivated Nuvo, whose parent company Satco certainly has plenty to celebrate about bulbs. Or perhaps it was the success of its Beaker pendant to expand that family, with its elongated clear glass surrounding a T10, giving the illusion that the entire enclosure was itself a big bulb. Other introductions from the company offered the same flavor for a total of 30 vintage-style offerings in all.
Is our desire for familiar filaments some sort of high-touch backlash against the high-tech of LED? The way I see it: Soft, warm lighting is like comfort food for the eyes, a sensory indulgence we have likely been craving throughout tough times of tightened belts. It’s the light layer with innate appeal that dates back to when our prehistoric ancestors first discovered and harnessed fire — long before the periods referenced in the romantic rear-view gaze of today’s popular fixtures. And I believe it will remain with us — in some form — long after as well.