Murano glass chandeliers: tutorial #1

Seguso murano glass Coloniale 6 light chandelier detail

We casually say that Murano glass chandeliers can come in a variety of sizes and shapes. But we don’t necessarily explain what that means – what is possible and what is not.

So this post illustrates what is possible.

My example is Coloniale from Seguso, partly because Seguso Vetri d’Arte is one of the most illustrious of all Murano brands, and partly because it is a design that particularly suits our market. (In other words, I think that you will like it!)

Here is a round six light chandelier version of Coloniale:

Seguso Coloniale 6 light Murano glass chandelier

A twelve light:

Seguso Coloniale 12 light amber Murano glass chandelier

An eighteen light: (See that as the number of lights increases, they start being arranged in tiers.)

Seguso Vetri d'Arte Coloniale 18 light Murano glass chandelier

And a  twenty-four light:

Seguso Vetri d'Arte Coloniale 24 light Murano glass chandelier

The key point is that they are modular – a kit of standard parts that, like Lego, can be made up into different designs. In this case, there are three lengths of arm, and three units making up the stem. One of these is long and used on its own in the six light chandelier, the next is ball-shaped and added to make a longer stem in the twelve light. The third is concave. It is added above the bowl of the twelve light, partly to add length and partly to finesse the transition between the ball-shaped unit and the bowl. This shape also goes between the additional bowls in the eighteen and twenty four light.

In other words, the components are specific sizes, so you can’t have a chandelier that is the same shape but – say – 10% bigger. (In fact, you can – Murano chandeliers are made to order by the most highly skilled craftsmen, but non-standard components will cost a lot more.)

On the other hand, the modules can be made up into other things. There are always matching wall lights! This is a Coloniale two light applique:

Seguso Verti d'Arte Coloniale Murano glass applique 2 light plus blue shades

And sometimes there is also a five light wall light (in two tiers – two above, three below).

Seguso also offer table lights in this family. Here is one…

Seguso Coloniale Murano glass table light tall

…plus a floor light…

Seguso Vetri d'Arte Coloniale Murano glass floor light

…and even an elegant side table!

Seguso Coloniale Murano glass side table

You can see that the last three are constructed from the components that make up the stem of the chandelier.

Do get in touch with me if you’d like more info about Coloniale or Murano chandeliers in general.

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How to light inside a wardrobe

BCM methacrylate illuminated wardrobe rail How do you get an even spread of light throughout a wardrobe, that is efficient enough for someone to see clearly everything that is in it?

You could install spots in the ceiling pointing in to the wardrobe. But (1) you probably don't want lights in the ceiling -- too naff, (2) shelves &c. in the wardrobe may block out the light from some parts of it, (3) the person looking into the wardrobe will create their own shadow, blocking the light from exactly where they are wanting to look, and (4) you may not have enough depth between the ceiling and the top of the wardrobe doors to fit spots that are deep enough.

So, what else can you do?

frauMaier have launched Superslim to be one possible solution.

fraumaier superslim ceiling light blackThe idea is that it is, well, super slim (H38mm!), so that it can fit on the ceiling, even if it is low and the wardrobe/cupboard doors swing outwards.

Then, its LEDs cast plenty (1000lm) of warm (2700K) light. The result is a wide spread of bright ambient light that, being nondirectional, will not create shadows. Besides black (above), frauMaier's Superslim also comes in white, red and gold:

frauMaier superslim gold wall light ceiling lightYou can also put them on a wall.

But suppose you need the light source to be inside the wardrobe?

You could put xenon strip around the inside of the door opening -- down the sides and even along the top. But they cannot light the whole interior properly, particularly if the wardrobes are a good size and/or the doors are sliding doors. In a dressing room, there may no doors at all behind which to hide the xenon strip.

Fortunately, BCM Illiminazione have come up with an elegant, efficient solution -- the illuminated clothes rail!

BCM lit clothes rail

As standard, they come in lengths from 300mm to 600mm, in 100mm increments. They spread the light evenly over the full length of the rail, directly down onto the clothes hanging from it (or onto the shoes in racks below it).

Others may have done this before, but not at this high quality, suitable for luxury installations.

So, who are BCM Illuminazione? As specialists in lighting for yachts and superyachts for over fifty years, they are well-known to yacht designers but not (yet) to interior designers working on residences or hotels. So they are a very well-kept secret -- you probably don't know them, but they are hugely experienced at working in the fussiest of environments, producing technical light fittings with a quality of finish appropriate to the most prestigious interiors.

After all, any company that is located just outside Forte dei Marmi is no stranger to the desires of the rich and famous!

For example, look at their other illuminated clothes rail -- a gorgeous methacrylate rod...

BCM methacrylate illuminated wardrobe rail idea that also translates into a lovely hand rail, that can be illuminated or not:

BCM lit handrail

If it is illuminated, the light comes from a proper halogen lamp in the metal section that attaches the rail to wall. There is a kit of parts that includes the elegant rounded methacrylate end caps. The main methacrylate rods can be any custom length up to 2m (then you can add another one, and so on).

The metal parts are brass, which is available in a variety of finishes -- brass, chromed, gold plated...

Don't you just want to rush out and specify a staircase?! I know I do.

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Light Installations Down Stairwells


The stairwell can provide an excellent location for a major feature piece, even in a building that has low ceilings. Similar long arrangements can also work well in high atria, particularly when a glazed wall allows them also to be seen from outside. They can be one continuous piece or made up of multiples. The former are always lit from within. The latter can be made up of pendant lights, or (if not too long) lit from downlighters above. 1. Should a feature light piece running through a stairwell be a single piece, or made up of multiple pendants?

A single long piece can create the most stunning, opulent effect. It is usually the most expensive option -- and looks it!

Windfall stairwell WF1590-902

Credit: Windfall

Multiple pendants allow you to adapt the piece to the budget. The more pendants, the more it will cost.

Carlo Moretti Boblu Murano glass lighting installation in stairwell

Credit: Carlo Moretti

Lit from above there is less glare and thinner cables. But there will be less useable light cast onto the stairs and the longer the piece, the less light will hit those at the bottom.

Windfall staircase Balance chandelier

Credit: Windfall

2. Should it be lit from within, or from above?

If you just want the luminaire to be a beautiful illuminated sculpture, it can be lit by spotlights from above. This can be the most beautiful effect because there are no lamps in the luminaire itself, and so there are no sources of glare.

If, on the other hand, it is there also to provide essential ambient light, so that people can see their way up and down the stairs, lighting from within may be necessary, particularly if the there are several flights of stairs, making the feature light longer.

A large single piece is normally lit from within. Multiple pendants can either be lit from within or from above.

3. If I go for multiple pendants, how should they be arranged?

Though some makers have standard arrangements, others will expect you to decide the quantity, lengths of drop, and combinations of luminaire (colours, sizes, etc.) yourself, so that you can create something site-specific. The most expensive option is usually to have the pendants arranged equally all the way down but you often don't need to do this. Instead, work out where the pendants will be seen from on each floor, and create coherent designs along each of these site-lines. You can then have between the floors just a few pendants connecting each of these groups, or none at all.

The cable has to be rated to carry the weight of the pendant. If the pendant does not contain a lamp, and the luminaire is light, the finest, almost-invisible wire can sometimes be used. A thicker cable is required for a pendant with a light in it, because it needs to be able to carry the electric current.

4. How tall should it be?

The arrangement of pendants, or the single piece, does not need to start right up against the top plate; instead, they can often begin quite a lot lower (which is cheaper, because you will need fewer pendants). Only you can decide where it should start, by taking into account the various sight-lines.

5. How near the floor should it go?

If people are going to be walking underneath it, normally allow 230cm from the floor. Note, however, that these tend to be major feature pieces, designed to add a wow factor. You may want to create the wow when visitors enter the hall through the front door, so check what it looks like from there. If the bottom of the piece is too high up, it may lack impact - or be completely invisible.

If people are not going to be walking under it, again, think of the sight-lines and create a good composition, bearing in mind what else is in the space. You can bring it all the way down to the ground, of course, but do check first for the presence of cats, dogs and children that may want to pull on the piece if they can reach it.

6. How near the bannisters can it go?

Children and drunks may want to reach over and pull at the piece. If they are determined enough, design alone can't prevent this, but if the presence of either is likely on a frequent basis, keep the luminaire more towards the centre and so further out of reach.

Note that in older houses, the space between the bannisters is not always the same on each floor. You have to be guided by the smallest of the measurements in each direction (which may not be on the same floor).

7. Is there anything else that I should be aware of?

Yes! - anything hanging down through a stairwell will be seen from all angles, as people walk up and down

- pendants may move a little in draughts. If this is likely, ensure that they will not bang into the stairs or each other

- please also see Practical Considerations when Hanging Chandeliers.

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Hanging Chandeliers: Practical Considerations


This section covers both large single pendants and arrangements of many pendants. 1. What does the chandelier hang from?

Single pieces tend to hang from a single point, typically a single hook and eye. A chandelier hook is a hook meant to be seen (it will be elegantly finished), that has a hole through which the electricity cable passes. Alternatively, there is a ceiling rose or similar that conceals the hook and the electrical connexion, as for most normal pendants. Note that the chandelier maker does not supply the hook!!! He cannot. He does not know what your ceiling is like, so he does not know what kind of hook would be suitable.

Credit: Wilkinson

top plates

Multiples tend to hang from a top plate. Try to select from the maker's standard topplates: it is cheaper and quicker. The top plate simplifies installation: only one electric cable is needed to supply all the pedants and only one unit needs to be fixed to the ceiling. All the electrical connexions, transformers, even projectors for fibre optic systems, can be safely housed in the top plate.

Credit: Melograno Blu

2. What is the top plate fixed to?

The hook or other attachment in the ceiling is not supplied with the chandelier, because there is no way of telling what the ceiling will be made of - where or what the load bearing part of the building's structure is. Instead, your contractor will work out what is appropriate. So that he can do so, you may need the maker to supply you with the installation instructions when the ceiling is being planned, which may be months before the chandelier is delivered.

Ensure that it is fixed to something that can take the weight of the whole light fitting - allow a good margin for error. Watch out for false ceilings.

Do not hang a top plate under a roof light! Why?

- the heat from the sun can damage the plate itself and the electrical components housed within it

- since most plates are solid, they block out the light from the roof light.

There are exceptions to every rule, of course! If you are suspending something under a roof light, try a lantern:

-- because they hang from a single cable, they can be suspended from the frame of a roof lantern

- they don't need a top plate, so there is nothing to block out daylight,

- their typology is suitable for halls.

3. When should it arrive?

The chandelier should arrive as late as possible. If it arrives before it can be hung up, there is the risk of its being damaged even before it has been unpacked (and the boxes for many can take up a considerable amount of room). On the other hand, put it up too soon, it may be knocked into and it will certainly gather dust.

4. How will we get it into the building and over to where it will go?

You MUST check not only the size of the chandelier, but also the sizes of the boxes in which it comes. Then compare them to the doors that they will have to pass through. Some chandelier crates are heavy enough to make the use of a pallet truck obligatory. If the item is custom, any access limitations can be designed around, but only if the designer has been told about them.

5. How do we put it up?

This is not always straightforward, and needs to be thoroughly thought through before the order is placed. Again, if the makers are doing any design work for you, ensure that they are told enough about the location so that they can design around any constraints.

Scaffolding is usually required, except where the ceiling is very low. This is usually a tower. However, when hanging through stairwells, there may not be enough room for one, so the scaffolding may need to go across the stairs.

The contractors will be using scaffolding anyway, so the best solution is usually to arrange for the chandelier's installation to be the last job done before the scaffolding is removed. When the piece is long - say, multiple pendants hanging from a top plate - the tower is reduced in height, section by section, as the longer pendants are unpacked.

6. What about maintenance?

You must always think about access for relamping and cleaning whatever kind of light you are specifying. Subsequent access for these purposes can be even more difficult than for installing the piece, when everything that will surround the area later (bannisters, furniture, delicate floors) may not yet be in place. There are always solutions but, again, this needs to be thought through before the piece is commissioned.

The property's Planned Maintenance Programme should allow for a cleaning, repairing and relamping session once a year. A scaffolding tower may need to be brought in.

Note that, from an access point of view, relamping a top plate can be more difficult than relamping down the length of the piece.

Crystal must be cleaned at least annually (ideally quarterly) if it to continue to sing.

7. What about mounting it on a winch?

This is not usually necessary. If it is, be prepared to spend quite a lot of money both on the winch itself and on its installation. You MUST go to a specialist: we can advise you who to go to.

8. What lamps should we use?

With relamping taking place annually, the lamps do not have to last longer than one year. Normal incandescent and halogen lamps have no problem achieving this, if you follow the guidelines in our Lamps section. LEDs are occasionally appropriate - it will depend upon the design of the piece. Fibre optic cable can also be effective, but remember that:

-- the light output has to be adequate to make a good effect in daylight

-- the cables are inefficient, so you loose light the longer they are (from the projector, not just from the ceiling) and

-- you still need to locate the projector somewhere where it is dry and can be accessed once a year for relamping.

See also the post on Light Installations Down Stairwells.

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