Once the poor relation of the interiors world, lights have emerged from the shadows to become one of the most glamorous areas of contemporary design and the quickest way to transform our homes. The magical aspect of lighting is the way illumination transforms the object. The planet is overflowing with ravishing, innovative light fittings in a rich array of shapes, colours and textures – in metals to ceramics, plastics, paper and textiles to wood, or glass. The great thing is that so much of it is affordable. Here’s how to light up your life with the latest lighting technologies, looks and trends! Plus where architects, designers and well-heeled Australia source them…
As the nights grow longer, how we light our homes becomes even more important with well-designed lighting integral to the look (and feel) of our homes.
LIGHT CHANGES EVERYTHING
Good lighting can make a difference to the furniture, the walls and the people in the room, so it’s important to think about the quality and type of light. A poorly chosen fixture or a bulb that produces low-quality illumination can ruin even the most beautifully designed room.
WHY LED LIGHTS?
The great benefit of LED is that they emit much less heat, which saves energy and expands the variety of materials and designs that can be used for light fittings. A common misconception is that LED only produces a cold light, but that makes it ideal for task lighting in kitchens, where it reduces strain on eyes. Most of us are used to buying bulbs based on wattage; however this refers to the energy consumer rather than the level of brightness. Instead, look for a light’s lumen output: 60 watts is equivalent to 800 lumens and 25 watts works out at a softer 250 lumens.
DO PLAN AHEAD
To achieve a coherent scheme. Ulysee Dormay, managing director of light giant, Flos says, “The function of the space will dictate how much and what kind of lights you will need. For example a food preparation area will need specific task lighting, but atmospheric lighting is also essential as part of an open-plan kitchen dining zone, and the positioning of the furniture within it, will also dictate the scheme.” For those not starting from scratch, Dormay says “there will be an element of compromise. Electricians can fit cables anywhere, but to keep costs down and avoid damaging the building structure too much, you can install them under the floorboards of the room above. Or, be imaginative with existing fittings and run multiple lights from a single outlet.”
GO FOR HIGH-TECH OPTIONS
“Gone are the days of the cheap rotary dimmer switch and the tungsten light source. Thanks to the electrical LED components, you can use one switch for all the lights in your living room: lamps to downlights.”
By using individual lights to bounce lots of light across walls and ceilings. This way, you get dynamic lighting with the ability to change the mood of the room, as desired.
CREATE THE FEELING OF SPACE
By using uplighters to wash the walls with light, and draw the eye up. Our eyes perceive light throught its reflections across all of the surfaces in the room. To spread that effect, use white-painted walls that will naturally reflect more light back to the viewer.
EMPHASISE THE ARCHITECTURE OF A HOUSE
By using carefully placed and angled lighting. “Low-level lights can create pathways along hallways or up a stairway,” says managing director of Artemide, Andrea Barbieri. “Uplighters can help to direct the gaze upwards toward the ceiling and accent a room’s architraves and mouldings, or a favourite piece of artwork or furniture. “Consider your journey through the room from where you turn on the light to where you sit, cook or work, and be sure to fit your switches accordingly. This kind of forward thinking will give you control where you most need it, “ says Barbieri.
THE 6 KEY LOOKS for 2018
ONE: LINEAR FORMS
Simplicity rules supreme with lighting designs reduced to straight lines and perfectly sharp angles. Check Flos Blush pendant by Studio Formafantasma, 2018, www.flos.com; and ‘T-lamp’ floor lamp by Marcel Wanders, Moooi, (moooi.com, spacefurniture.com.au).
TWO: LIGHTS IN FLIGHT
Swooping flocks of LED-lit glass droplets, such as Ochre’s Moonlight Murmurations lighting installation that is named after the dancing groups of starlings which perform in the skies at this time of year. (ochre.net). Most brands are reinventing the chandelier and deliberately undazzling the showiest of light forms…so it’s a sculpture of lights, but mostly air.
THREE: ORGANIC SHAPES
Made with an imperfect, natural feel, these soft-edged designs will add an element of calm to your lighting scheme. Seek out ‘Anders’ pendant light, by Pinch Design (pinch.comor spenceandlyda.com.au). Also, the Melt copper pendant light by Tom Dixon, (tomdixon.com).
FOUR: CIRCLES AND SPHERES
The design world is taking its cue from celestial orbs, with luminous loops, hoops and discs decorating the latest lights.
FIVE: PORTABLE LIGHTS
Wireless and wonderful, the latest lanterns can brighten up any space from Artemide’s ‘Empatia Mobile’ inspired by Venetian glass with a light pipe which echoes the shape of a candle to Flos’ ‘Bellhop’ created for the London Design Museums restaurant by Barber & Osgerby.
SIX: VINTAGE LIGHTING
Reclaimed buys add texture and character to a space and come with their own unique history and personality. People are increasingly seeking out desk and floor lights manufactured between 1900 and 1970 before the concept of planned obsolescene when things were built to last. The imperfections of anything old is obviously appealing, too. Shop around, for the best looks, deals, but check the lights have been tested for safety standards. Cut glass is big at the moment, as well as the curves of hand-blown Czech moulded glass – they work with any interior scheme.
And what’s really exciting about mod designs is that so much of it is accessible and affordable. So throw out those old globes and buy something spectacular. It can be yours for as little as $20.
Here’s where to go for the latest looks in Interiors:
Cult Design. Sleek but timeless Scandinavian classics – pendants, wall lights, table and floor lamps – by Denmark’s Louis Poulsen and Lightyears – long popular with architects and designers, but also accessible to the public. Also Bestlite Anglepoise – among the best lights money can buy, that’s a genius of simplicity. Inquiries, 1300 768 626, www.cultdesign.com,au
Domus Textiles. The showroom stocks Vaughan Designs, the Rolls-Royce of lighting, with a full range of high-end, British hall lanterns, hanging bowls, chandeliers, flush fittings, uplighters, downlighters, wall sconces, wall lights, swing arm fittings, floor and table lamps including a great range of new picture lights. The company’s handmade lampshades in silk, parchment, vellum and card walk out the door.(02) 9380 6577, www.domustextiles.com.au
De De Ce. The architects’ choice, with Belgian Kreon lighting (silver-grey or white in finish) favoured by Glenn Murcutt, Iain Halliday, Peter Stutchbury, Alex Tzannes, Stanic Harding and Andrew Parr. Kreon tracking, Italian Davide Groppi new releases such as Meridianai, Endless, Cartesio, Calvino, Clip and Bugia spotlights and wall lights. Also pendants by one of the greatest designers on earth, Tom Dixon including his new Melt pendant. Plus American Sollos outdoor lighting. (02) 93602722, www.dedece.com.
ECC Lighting & Living. Architects, designers and well-heeled Sydney flocks here for high-end German, Dutch, Italian and Spanish lights in unusual materials: paper, mirrored glass, pleated fabric, wood, powder-coated metal, designed by big names such as Renzo Piano, Jasper Morrison and Arne Jacobsen. Brands include Lumina, Autonangeli, Oty, Weplight, Serien, Blauet. The sort of looks you see at top bars and restaurants. (02) 93807922, www.ecc.com.au
Euroluce. Arguably the best lights available on earth, with design classics represented in major international museums and award-winners from major lighting brands: Flos (seek out new designs like Landlord, Bellhop, Klein, Shadow, The Fast Track and Super Line). Also, Reggiani (check its new Mood accent range), Multiline and Apure. Think the sleekest designer looks: no rip-offs here, just original designs by famous names such as Philippe Starcke (his Romeo series), Achille Castiglione (that Arco classic), Jasper Morrison (the Glo ball), Tobias Scarpa (Ariette), Marcel Wanders (the Zeppelin chandelier), Antonio Citterio, Patricia Urquiola, Rodolfo Dordogni, Piero Lissoni, and Sebastian Wrong. (02) 93805877, www.euroluce.com.au
Hub Furniture. Loads of gifted interpreters of the medium here who are remarkable for the resourcefulness (not to mention their entrepreneurial skills) conjuring up innovative light fittings in a rich array of shapes, colours and textures. (03) 9652 1222, www.hubfurniture.com.au
Koda Lighting. Lights of all kinds, including designs for indoors and outdoors by Occhio and Vibia, nyta sattler. (02) 9699 6007, www.kodalighting.com.au
Laura Kincade. Brilliant. Go for Visual Comfort and Ralph Lauren (seek out its Visual Comfort classic swing arm wall lights in brass, black or bronze and six light square tube chandeliers), www.laurakincade.com
Living Edge Studio. Clean, architectural good looks, including one of the world’s most celebrated lighting collection’s, Flos. Also, ultra-cool brands such as Lambert & Fils, La Chance, Buster & Punch, Poul Henningson, Muuto, Lasvit, Wonderglass, and Waldmann. Expect to be spoilt for choice.1300 132 154, www.livingedge.com.au
Restoration Hardware. Statement-making lights that will add punch to any space. www.restorationhardware.com
Space Furniture. Consistently provides fantastic, directional lighting designs that never let you down from the world’s brightest talents. Think celebrated brands like Moooi, Kartell, Foscarini, Italamp, Serralunga, Roll & Hill, Ingo Maurer, and Lee Broom with many designs inspired by mathematics and patterns in nature. (02) 95576136; www.spacefurniture.com
Spence & Lyda. This furniture showroom, a fave with architects, has beautiful pendant, table and floor lights, both mid-range and high-end. Go for Atelier de Troupe’s fresh take on Modernist looks, Ay Illuminate wonky woven cocoon pendants, Czech handmade Brokis and Bomma artisanal glass lighting. Also, Pinch Designs and French DCW Edition La Lampe Gras designed back in 1921 by Bernard-Albin Gras and used by everyone from Le Corbusier to Eileen Grey and Henri Mattise, re-released by the same French company who patented it in 1927. The handmade steel design, with no screws or welded joints, comes in multiple options including wall-mounted adjustable options for desk to bar and outdoors. (02) 9212 6747; www.spenceandlyda.com.au
Universal Lighting. Top interior designers make regular raids for quality German Holtkotter adjustable-swing-arm bedside wall brackets, standard lamps and picture lights in satin-nickel as well as Italian picture lights in satin chrome or nickel, which aren’t as expensive as the British Vaughan ones. Universal also custom-makes modern lampshades in parchment and chintz. (02) 9328 7633, www.universallightingedgecliff.com.au
Selling good-value designer look-alike and a big range of well-made lights in all the finishes and shapes you would want – traditional and modern. Magins Classical Lighting (maginslighting.com.au), Light Up Kingsford, www.lightupkingsford.com.au
These are the wholesale lighting showroom chosen more than any others by magazine stylists and leading designers – the places they return to again and again. Bloomingdales Lighting, www.bloomingdales.com.au Emac & Lawton, www.emac-lawton.com.au. Sue Riley Home Collections, suerileyhomecolletions.com.au Boyd Blue, boydblue.com.au
For barn-style looks – some you’ve definitely never thought of – School House Electric, (schoolhouse.com), Home Depot, (homedepot.com), Barn Light Electric, Dunlin, (dunlin.com.au), Urban Lamp Company or Bevolo.
Traditional classics treated in a modern way to give a room elegance, gravitas and confidence. Bragg & Co, (braggandco.com.au); Lampe Imports (www.lampeimports.com.au), McLeod’s Antiques, (02 93610602); Orient House, www.orienthouse.net.au, Parterre Garden, (www.parterre.com.au), and Pigotts Store, (pigottsstore.com.au).