Lighting designer gets inspiration from whiskey for chandelier
April 14, 2009 - 12:00pm

lighting designers
Celebrity designer Nate Berkus (right) joins Rion Stassi, winner of the 2008 Basil Hayden Design Chicago competition. Stassi’s winning chandelier is shown in the background.

Lighting design draws inspiration from myriad sources; recently, that laundry list enveloped yet another interesting entry: whiskey—specifically, Basil Hayden Bourbon, part of the Jim Beam family of spirits.

In October, a group of creative Chicagoans unveiled their submissions for the 2008 Basil Hayden Design Chicago competition. Sponsored by Basil Hayden Bourbon, Out magazine and Chicago Home + Garden, the contest challenged local designers to create products inspired by the iconic sipping whiskey. From hundreds of entries, celebrity judge Nate Berkus, host of “Oprah’s Big Give” on ABC, selected a chair by Sarah Tranum, a modern coffee table by Bryan Lump and a 36-inch chandelier by Rion Stassi as the winning styles, and each finalist received $2,500 to bring their concepts to fruition and compete for a final prize.

During a gala finale at Chicago’s Crimson Lounge, VIP attendees cast their votes for the winning item; when the ballots were tallied, Stassi’s chandelier emerged as the victor. He received an additional $10,000 from Basil Hayden to help jump-start his design career.

Stassi’s winning design, which is currently installed at the Crimson Lounge, took inspiration from the oak barrels that help condition the premium whiskey over an eight-year period.

Stassi is already putting the prize money to work. He hopes to launch this month.

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