Do It Yourself
April 14, 2009 - 12:00pm

Peter Carlson

Carlson: I was always searching for a very specific look—classically elegant and responsive to contemporary. There’s an awful lot of stuff out there that strives for design with too many curlicues and garnishes. There’s also a lot that is very, very trendy.

    I found the same thing to be true of exterior lighting. There’s not much available unless you want a reproduction lantern. We’re trying to fill that void. Because my background is interior design, we market directly to architects and designers. We aren’t dealing with Lowe’s or Home Depot.

    My designs tend to be very geometric and seem to blend into whatever setting you put them in. For example, the BC11, the round ceiling fixture, is fairly neutral designwise, but it’s gone all sorts of places. Jamie Drake has used it in [New York City mayoral residence] Gracie Mansion, and it’s also been used in very contemporary settings.

    Everything is made in Portugal in a town that is a glass-making center. We started out here in the U.S., and it was my intent to support industry here, but unfortunately so many manufacturers have gone to China. It’s just a different ball game. We’re never going to compete on price, so I hooked up with two manufacturers in Portugal.

One of the factories does a lot of very traditional chandeliers. When [U.S. government buildings in Washington, D.C.,] were renovated in the 1960s, they [provided] these enormous chandeliers. They’re very proud of that. To push them in a slightly different direction with my designs has been interesting. One result is the Pineapple lamp, which is all glass—both cast glass and mercury glass.

    Another interesting piece is the RC 46, the rock crystal globe. One day I was at one of the factories and saw what looked like a big chunk of broken glass. I was told that it is residue from the bottom of the kiln. Periodically, you have to shut the kiln down and clean it out. I was looking for a chandelier that used interesting materials and had a con-temporary feel. I thought this material was fantastic, and that is how the RC 46 came about.

    Something we haven’t offered to date are floor lamps, so I’ve got a couple in prototype stage. I’m also really focusing on exterior and hoping to incorporate some solar and LED technology. We all know it’s coming, but the trick with LED is getting the color right. Whoever does that will do very well.

Pineapple lamp. RC 46. TC E61.
Pineapple lamp. RC 46. TC E61.

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