Designer Benjamin Burts Discusses His New Louisiana-Inspired Lighting Line
December 5, 2011 - 10:02pm
New Orleans-based Flambeau Lighting taps ex-Burts Cason designer/sculptor Benjamin Burts for a new lamp line.
Lamps in the new Benjamin Burts Collection from Flambeau showcase antiqued gold leaf capitals and mountings on hand-painted columns. These have hand-painted metal shades with gold-bead bandings and mottled gold finish insides.

Burts: I work in clay. It’s fluid, spontaneous, amorphous. I can shape it into any form I like. I start with an idea and try to visualize it. Then I sit down and start working. I’m analytical; I don’t perceive the piece completed and then follow a pattern to get to that end. Instead, I let the clay show me its best quality. If I see something beautiful happen, I go with it. The end product may be quite different from where I thought I was going at the beginning, but it’s a better product because of the clay. Clay has a lot to offer in the way of spontaneity.

Kay Cason owned a gallery in Baton Rouge. I made some columns at the request of one of her customers, someone requesting candlesticks, but we never produced them commercially. So, these designs have been in my studio. Over time, I’ve added to their visual language. I decided what shades would look best. I like the bottom of the shade to be no more than one inch above the top of the base. I want shades I can paint to integrate with the bases. The public likes gilding, which helps age the forms and give them a Neoclassic look.

I like the architecture of the buildings in New Orleans, especially in the French Quarter and the Garden District, and the spiritual forms in the graveyards of New Orleans and St. Francisville, LA. I’ve always enjoyed looking at the motifs and texture of buildings. The details stick in my memory and become part of my visual vocabulary. It’s not that I can point to a specific piece of architecture and say, “That inspired this interpretation.” That’s not the way artists work. That’s not the way I did it. The lamps just evolved. Probably, religion has an input, but it’s not intended. It just happens to be that when you’re looking at historical sites, graveyards and old buildings, you’re going to see a lot of spiritual forms.

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