Trading Spaces designer Laurie Smith talks about her new collection
April 14, 2009 - 12:00pm

Author and “Trading Spaces” designer Laurie Smith solves lighting quandaries for consumers with her first-ever collection for Quoizel.

Laurie Smith

lighting designers
lighting designers
The clean, elegant lines of the five-light Era chandelier (above) are inspired by a 1940s French design by Jean Royère. The Mid-Century style pairs well with Smith’s Classic table lamp (right), which is perfect for anchoring a sofa or large bed, yet delicate enough to sit on a console in a small room.


I’ve always felt the most critical element in interior design is lighting. I don’t care how beautiful your $6,000 sofa is or how gorgeous your drapery, if the room isn’t well-lit, it’s futile. Lighting is everything. When magazines were asking what is the quickest, cheapest, easiest change for a room, and everyone was reactively saying “paint,” I said, “No, it’s lighting! Get a new lamp!” I really could not drive that point home enough for families on [TLC’s] “Trading Spaces.” Sometimes the biggest, most dramatic trans-formations came from changing the lamp or even the shade.

When Quoizel approached me about doing a collection, I was thrilled because of their reputation for quality. It was also exciting to think about approaching lighting from a different perspective. My philosophy is that people should approach lighting like a curator approaches artwork. They should fall in love with the individuality and uniqueness of the pieces, not because they match each other and the surroundings. I want a consumer to be able to walk in, see the [Illuminations] collection and realize they can put the 1940s Jean Royère-inspired Era chandelier with the Art Deco-inspired Millennium piece, and they will work well together. They don’t match—but boy, it really works. I want people to know there isn’t a single mistake they can make with any of the 27 pieces in the collection.

The metal table lamp is one of my favorites from the collection. It gives the illusion of volume and can anchor an 8-foot sofa or king-size bed with ease, yet it is transparent and airy. One thing I found traveling around for “Trading Spaces” is that some people don’t have space for those large ceramic lamps, so the only alternative, many times, is a wall-mounted swing sconce or a candlestick-type lamp that looks like it will fall over if you sneeze. I was determined to develop a lamp with a substantial scale that also had a transparent quality to it. This lamp can hold its own scale-wise, but it also works in a smaller space.

One of the most successful items at market was my art glass cube, which was inspired by American design from the 1950s. The cube is suspended from a very delicate 6-foot chain, but it comes with an additional eight feet. One retailer was going to show it on the showroom floor in a 10-foot application as a bedside lamp. Another retailer was going to cluster a trio of them at varying heights in an entry-hall vignette, complete with a staircase. These are the kind of signature pieces that allow people to use their imagination.

I want people to realize they can make bold choices with their lighting and that they don’t have to pick out the family of lights that all match and hang them in their house and say, “Phew, at least that’s over!” Lighting should be fun and allow people to express their creativity.

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