Lighting Designer Reveals the Inspiration for Organic Chandeliers
April 5, 2012 - 2:31pm
Designer Lindsey Adelman talks about what went into her new Bubble Chandeliers, which debuted at ICFF.

Lindsey Adelman: I studied industrial design at RISD [Rhode Island School of Design] and focused on lighting for my final thesis. I found it to be a very low-tech way to have a big impact on a space and really transform it. Lighting is also immediate; you connect two wires and see it working.

With the Bubble chandeliers, I am combining the organic, imperfect forms of handblown glass globes with the precision of modular, pristine hardware components. I love the hardware’s economy of means and its function, which is completely transparent; there’s nothing that’s superfluous. I also really love the look of the double-loop-filament Edison bulb, even though it’s a dying breed. I think it’s perfect—one of the most beautiful forms in design. I combine it with clear, blown-glass shades, which are incredibly refined and organic and virtually disappear while highlighting the shape of the classic bulb.

At this year’s ICFF [International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York City], I debuted the Bubble chandeliers with hardware plated in 24-karat gold and glass globes incorporating Italian 14-karat gold foil and a technique called murrine. The nine-globe chandelier sells for around $16,000 as opposed to $12,000 without the gold; gold is certainly at a premium right now.

I was encouraged to push the gold idea after returning from the Milan Furniture Fair [Salone Internazionale del Mobile] in April. I was incredibly re-inspired about design in general as a result of some of the things I saw there. It was very unlike what’s happening in New York or the U.S., where design, in general, feels very nail-biting. Everyone’s preoccupied with the recession and the near future and with coming up with the most cost-effective ideas. When I went to the Milan show, the overriding feeling that I took away from it was that designers had full freedom to explore ideas that were completely over-the-top and that had everything to do with concept and imagination and fantasy and craftsmanship—off-the-hook craftsmanship—with these beautifully executed projects that go way beyond function. When I came back from Milan and I was thinking about what to present at ICFF, I decided that I wanted a theme along the lines of “Recession? What Recession?”

The Bubble chandeliers were very successful, and I’m receiving commissions from designers, individuals and retailers, who are incredibly creative and inspiring in their own right. These are amazing collaborations with a lot of mutual respect. That is exactly the kind of work I want to do. I am not interested in mass production. In terms of process, I am drawn towards a system resembling a pre-Industrial Revolution scenario. It goes back to a time when the designer was the maker, and the maker usually knew the end user, which is very much in keeping with the Slow Design movement. I work with local glass-blowers, machinists, metalworkers and technicians. We are very much a part of each others’ lives, and there's a lot of give and take. To me, the process and, hence, the craftsmanship is as important as the final product. The two cannot be separated.

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