In Fine Form
April 14, 2009 - 12:00pm

Charles MarderMarder: Most lamp shades today are designed for the traditional home, and a lot of people are bored with them. So, I have taken a different approach to lighting in size, shape and detail. I create grandiose shapes and sizes to fit commercial and large-scale residential spaces. The trademark of my Signature Series is the enormity of the lamp shades. One of my pieces displayed in a modern house sets the style and really allows the owner’s personality to shine through.

    It all started with an interest in unique, opulent textiles and the need for sensuous design in lighting. A few years ago, I came across an awesome gothic floor lamp at a flea market that needed a shade. I designed one and then put the lamp in the window of my antique shop on Sunset Boulevard. It seemed that literally everyone who passed by wanted to buy it.

    It takes about 32 hours and seven pairs of hands to make a large chandelier. On floor lamps, we use vintage bases, so the process starts with refurbishing. An artist paints the base. Then it goes to a technician, who wires it for UL approval. Then the silk is hand-stretched and hand-sewn over the frame. Finally, the shade goes to a “gimper” who adds

the trim. We use oodles of gimp, beaded trim, metallic braids, glass bead fringe and silk fringe. The list goes on and on.

    My signature color palette consists of golds, ambers, bronzes and greens, as those colors seem to fit best in most homes. I live in an incredible loft in downtown Los Angeles, and I picture how something might look in my home first. Then I sketch it. Every so often, there are tours through the abandoned theaters in downtown L.A. Just seeing the enormous chandeliers that are in these palatial theaters really inspires me.My passion is Spanish revival from the 1920s. My designs are intuitive and spontaneous. They come not from my head, but from the soul, hence the company name Mi Alma, which means “my soul.”

Light by Mi Alma. Marder’s labor-intensive, handcrafted lighting pieces are becoming favorites of high-end retailers like Neiman Marcus. Lighting fixture by Mi Alma.

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