Kenneth Ludwig On His New Collection
December 5, 2012 - 3:53pm
Chicago Merchandise Mart resource Kenneth Ludwig talks about his new collection of organic, free-form lamps.
Ken Ludwig

Ludwig: I started very young, probably 10 or 11, drawing architecture — floor plans and “fantasy space cities.” As I look back, it must have been what drew me to interior design and my love of home furnishing products.

I am an avid magazine reader. I am addicted to design magazines. I am constantly inspired by the textures, styles and forms from the pages of these shelter publications. I love texture and organic materials. I think they add a lot of depth that registers in my lighting and furniture designs.

I find a lot of inspiration in fashion magazines. I love European fashion houses and designs, especially Chanel and Gucci. Oddly, I also find cooking and entertaining magazines a huge resource for color and texture. Each time a new magazine comes out, I am ready to tear it apart for ideas. I am the person who saves and chronicles every Architectural Digest.

Lately, I have been watching old movies with a designer’s eye. You can find product and inspiration in old furniture, lighting and interiors. ”Auntie Mame” is probably my favorite. You’ll see some soon-to-be-released designs from that movie in 2013.

I tend to go more transitional in my designs. That is my own personal style, and from my home furnishings sales background, that is the best selling. Transitional lets you easily mix new pieces in with a client’s existing setting. When clients purchase things at retail, it doesn’t lean in just one design style. It can cross over different periods to give them a completely new look.

With my extensive sales background, I tend to steer towards “market-driven” trends versus art-driven. While I respect a lot of artists’ work or designs, you have to cater to a client that is going to buy it. That is the whole goal. We all love pretty, but if it doesn’t sell, then we haven’t done our jobs. I think you can throw a wide net out with your designs as long as you are following current color trends, materials, styling and shapes.

With my lighting designs, I start more with shapes and forms — rectangles, ovals, elongated ovals and circles. I then either start adding and layering designs over these shapes, or I start smoothing those shapes out to create a new form for a lamp base.

There is a huge trend toward natural, organic and free-form, which I love. However, it can be hard if you are relying on nature to set your tone for the design. My designs blend the best of both worlds … function and beauty. For example, my Stacked River Stone lamps needed to be anchored by a sturdy base, and capped with a sensible-scaled shade to create a harmonious look. Sometimes these designs can get too “wild” and over-scaled — or too organic. You don’t want it too look like you pulled it out of nature and threw a shade on it.

I loved the idea of stacking stones, but wanted a different shape than a round river rock. So we took slabs of stones and tailored the edges to look slightly polished and we cut into the top rock to add a different touch. I wanted to make sure they were tight and stacked as a whole. To give that “transitional feel,” I added the acrylic base. I think you can add acrylic to any piece and make it instantly chic. We chose a simple white silk shade, but added some pop with a silver leaf lining. It adds that bling, but also helps throw the light properly.

  • Ken Ludwig
    Ken Ludwig
  • The Stacked River lamp from Portfolio Kenneth Ludwig has refined edges and a clear acrylic base for a sophisticated take on organic.

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