wall light

Brands

Estro's bespoke lighting for luxury hotels and restaurants

Estro are leading specialists in custom lighting (and bathroom accessories) for hotels and restaurants, so they are central to our mission.

We go to them for fully bespoke lights in quantity. They are based in Tuscany, so they deliver all the convenience of: high Italian standards of craftsmanship; ease of communication; short runs and single samples; plus quick deliveries. If necessary, one can fly in to Pisa and be in their factory by lunchtime! And they have proved exemplary in handling aftersales issues promptly, efficiently and cheerfully. In other words, totally different to sourcing in China – which would be irrelevant if Estro's prices were not competitive, but they are. Amazingly so. And they are nice people. ;-)

They have another brand, Luminara, that makes a diverse range of luxury lights that are more suited to public areas and residences, so if you work on such projects, do still come to the Estro’s stand and see what they have to offer.

It is difficult to give an impression of the production of a supplier of custom lighting because of the variety of their production, much of which is dictated by the designs and requirements of the interior designers, rather than by the maker themselves. Estro do have fine, relevant collections in several catalogues — a Classic, a Contemporary and a Luxury one, plus one for bathrooms (lights and accessories), but they are a starting point, really. So what I thought I’d do is show you some pictures of interiors that have Estro lights. They will need no comment from me – you’ll be able to see for yourself what I would point out. And pictures of interiors (and exteriors) are much more interesting than pictures of lights, aren’t they….

Finally, Estro have introduced a third brand, Idèo, for cordless lights, taking advantage of the low power consumption of LEDs. Unlike most others, theirs have a traditional look (the one you can see in the Monte Carlo picture above is a powered version):

They are also available in a bronze finish, as seen here on the table light:

So, Estro is a very important company for anybody involved in specifying for luxury hotels and restaurants!

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Brands

FontanaArte at lightjunction

Our fine lighting event, lightjunction, taking place as part of designjunction during the London Design Festival (17-21 September), has a very specific purpose. It is to increase specifiers’ awareness and understanding of high quality, relevant suppliers of decorative lighting. I'm highlighting some exhibitors in these posts, to give an idea of how the brands were chosen.FONTANA ARTE

Why learn about FontanaArte?

In my previous post about Cini&Nils, I pointed out that brands can change, so we need to keep you up-to-date with what they are doing. I can think of none that has changed more radically than FontanaArte! And what they have changed to is as notable as what they have changed from. This matters, because theirs is still one of the very finest collections of contemporary lighting, with classic designs in their catalogue from the 1930s and every decade since.

What have they changed from? Strong designs from different designers and periods mean that theirs is a very varied collection, but the one thing in common has always been that they were made of glass. Glass, glass, glass. In fact, FontanaArte was created in 1932 to make glass lighting and furniture: it grew out of the Milanese glass company, Luigi Fontana.  The acquisition of Candle in 1993 gave them a second brand under which they could explore other materials. When the Candle brand name was dropped and the two collections amalgamated, FontanaArte now had some non-glass lights, but the collection was — and triumphantly still is — predominantly glass.

So, imagine the surprise when the stand at Light+Building in April had no glass lights!!! 

Actually it did have one glass light, but it was shut away behind a locked door, like the things in jars in the Salzburg Natural History Museum’s collection that are not suitable for children. But, if you were allowed in, what an exciting discovery there was: the Total Black version of the iconic Fontana, designed by Max Ingrand in 1954, available in all three sizes:

Of course, there is no such thing as black glass, so when the lamps inside are lit (in the base as well as the shade, separately switched), the Fontana Total Black reveals itself to be a wonderful blackcurrant colour:

So what have FontanaArte changed to? Well, if one did not know better, one would assume that the latest collection was from a Scandinavian company. Or, put another way, very, very fashionable!

Look at the colours. This is Cloche, an update of Pudding from 1995. There is a light grey and a dark grey — i.e. bang on the money. There is also a yellow, but it is not a bright Mediterranean yellow: it is darker, dirtier — a northern, urban, mustard yellow.

Igloo also comes in two tones of grey, and shares with Cloche a matt finish. But there is a lot more than that to Igloo. The material it is made of, for example: it has a double shell of self-extinguishing plastic technopolymer. But what is most remarkable is how much you can do with it. There is a single module. Here are nine of them in a row, all pointing downwards:

And here are another nine, this time pointing up and down:

Here is a close-up of four in a square:

As you can see, it is extremely versatile. It is also easy to use. It is, in fact, a modular, self-supporting system of spotlights that, thanks to a series of electromechanical connections, and curves and spacers, allows for the consecutive linking of up to 200 units without the need for any additional power cable! Here are two arrangements of seven hanging vertically:

It takes mains power (no separate power supply to locate) and dimmers are available. Just think how quick and simple installation could be — and how economical!

Vitro is a simple, elegant, very effective design that makes use of new materials.

The body always has a satin opal finish. It is the prismatic diffuser that can be changed: it comes in satin, transparent, chrome and bronze.

Vitro can also be ceiling mounted. So, you see? The look of it, and its name, suggest glass, but though it is from FontanaArte, it is not glass!

Actually, we should not have been so surprised by their move away from glass. There was not much glass in evidence in their 2013 collection, that included the amazing, 64cm high Odeon. This is a new type of luminaire; you have it facing a wall, so that is generates reflected light. It is the beautiful leather upholstery covering it that one sees:

And the body of Yupik is made out of polypropylene foam!

This makes it incredibly lightweight, yet robust, and a practical example of a currently-popular type of light — one that is on a long cable so that it can be hung, stood up, and moved around generally.

Needless to say, such radical and successful designs come from radical and successful studios. Yupik is by Form Us With Love, Vitro by Emmanuel Babled and Odeon is by Studio Klass, as is Igloo. Other achingly fashionable designers with whom FontanaArte are working include Studio Drift and Gamfratesi. So if you want to know what is happening in contemprary lighting design, spend some time on FontanaArte’s stand at lightjunction — for the Scandinavian aesthetic, the colours, the finishes, the materials, the new typologies, the cool designers…! In the process, you’ll also learn about a very practical, useable collection.

The light at the head of this email sums all this up. It is Lunaire by Ferréol Babin. The centre section can be moved in and out like a drawer, altering how the light is cast. Push it in, and the light emerges as a penumbra around the the larger disc. Pull it out and the centre of the larger disc is illuminated:

It comes in various finishes, so besides looking minimal and contemporary as above, it can also look luxurious:

Or mysterious…

You are going to kick yourself if you do not come along to lightjunction to experience these lights for yourself, aren't you!

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Brands

Cini&Nils at lightjunction

Our fine lighting event, lightjunction, taking place as part of designjunction during the London Design Festival (17-21 September), has a very specific purpose. It is to increase specifiers’ awareness and understanding of high quality, relevant suppliers of decorative lighting. I'm highlighting some exhibitors in these posts, to give an idea of how the brands were chosen.CINI&NILS

Why learn about Cini&Nils?

Because brands can change. You think you know what they do, but they can develop in new directions. That is the case with Cini&Nils. Theirs seemed to be the purist of decorative lighting collections. Every model fulfilled a specific lighting requirement, or overcame a particular lighting problem. They were designed to meet that need in the best possible way.

The result was very efficient lighting, that also looked good because Form Followed Function.  The approach inevitably led to innovation. For example, theirs was the first mains-powered track system, the Tenso. Still available, still as elegant and versatile as ever, and still with the wide range of light bodies that can be used with it, 2014 saw the addition of the Tensoled:

The Tenso system allows lights to be put where otherwise they could not go: under a vault or a ceiling with frescos, or across a void:

Visit their stand at lightjunction to see the full range of possibilities presented by the Tenso system, and by its small brother, the miniTenso.

But now Cini&Nils are adding to their portfolio purely decorative designs (i.e. they are not created to meet a specific lighting requirement), though they still display an intellectual rigour.

One of the most spectacular is their FormaLa:

What you are seeing is a flexible strip that has LEDs on one side. You can curve it as you like:

Light fittings? Or Art…?

The concept is simple: its realization was not. Obviously, as the strip is bent, one side is stretched and the other side is compressed. Since it can be bent either way, both sides must be able to expand and contract. So a lot of research and development had to go into finding materials that could handle the stresses. Such installations can cover a lot of wall, spectacularly yet economically, creating a major impact, so you’ll want to discuss with them how you can use it.

Assolo explores what can be done with a circle, if one thinks beyond the standard horizontal ring pendant. What if one hung the rings vertically…

…or attached them to a wall, projecting outwards?

They found that they had a minimal, clean fitting — which created fantastic, large patterns. Such a simple way to articulate a plain wall or a ceiling:

There is even an outdoor version!

Having exploited (biggish) circles, Cini&Nils then decided to explore what could be done with (smallish) cubes. The result was the clever Cubismo:

There are two versions…

…and…

…that can be combined together to make larger installations.

The lower part is away from the wall and has the lamp behind it. The upper part, being flush to the wall, acts as the reflector. This, combined with the three angled sides of each of the cubes, results in striking chiaroscuro effects:

You can have any RAL colour for a quantity of fifteen or more.

But Cini&NilsCubismo is better seen  than described – another reason to visit their stand at lightjunction!

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Brands

Art et Floritude: the best new lights at Decorex

Art et Floritude Obsidienne wall light

I hope that I saw all of Decorex. For us, its new location is more convenient, and Kensington Gardens was lovely in yesterday's sun. But the main space, Perks Field -- the biggest and the first that one comes to -- was noticeably busier than the Orangery. Based on the quality of the stands, there was no reason for this. So I do encourage you to to make it through as far as the Orangery.

And here is a very good reason -- to see our Best New Light at Decorex (and the runner-up!).

The wall panel above is the Applique Obsidienne by Christine Goumot (formerly directrice artistique at Saint Laurent) for Art et Floritude. It is W143cm H55cm. The finish of metal parts is a carefully judged combination of bronze and 24 ct gold. The design -- the different sizes of perfect and imperfect circles, and the relationship between them -- is beautifully judged.

Art et Floritude Applique Obsidienne detail

But what elevates it to a higher plane are the dark parts. These are chunks of obsidian (a naturally-occurring glass produced during volcanic eruptions) that is closer to amber than anything else. Like amber, each piece will be different depending upon the quantities and shapes of the different colours in it. This means that every Applique Obsidienne will be different. There are LED lights behind each chunk. All are fascinating: the ones that initially look black do have variations within them, the more translucent ones share more colours and variety of shapes of darkness.

Art et Floritude Applique Obsidienne detail

The result is the quality that defines great design: it gets better, more interesting, the more you look at it. You can lose yourself in the worlds you discover in any one of the chunks of obsidian (which are large!).

But it was touch and go whether the Applique Obsidienne above, or the Boule de Fleurs (below) would get top honours.

When we started working with Art et Floritude (a charming family company based in the Loire Valley), they were primarily continuing the fine French craft tradition of painted metal chandeliers on themes drawn from nature, often with porcelain flowers attached. Like this:

Art et Floritude chandelier metal and porcelain flowers

If the Applique Obsidienne exploits their metalworking capabilities, the Boules de Fleurs demonstrate what they can do with their porcelain flowers.

Art et Floritude Boule de Fleurs

The original was created with Hubert de Malherbe for Parfums Christian Dior. The catalogue version is a simple ball shape made up of unglazed porcelain flowers on a (concealed) white painted metal frame, lit from within by LEDs. There are three sizes: Ø24cm, Ø28cm and Ø40cm.

On the outside of the Art et Floritude stand, you see an applique of leaves in their new finish, satin nickel. The colour of the wall it is on demonstrates how well it suits the long-dominant passion for mud-like hues.

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Seven fine "Potences" -- single arm wall lights that extend outwards over 140cm

Luceplan Counterbalance wall light A BIG hit at recent trade shows has been Daniel Rybakken's Counterbalance for Luceplan. The first thing we all wanted to do was play with it. When they were showing early prototypes, we weren't allowed to, but it was instantly the most talked about light on display. Then the day came when we could! Seldom has a light created such an impact. It extends 192cm.

It is of a type generally referred to as a Potence, after the light of that name designed by Jean Prouvé in 1950 and now available from Vitra. This is "over 2m long":

Vitra Jean Prouvé Potence wall light

Charlotte Perriand, who had worked with Le Corbusier for ten years, formed an architectural practice with Jean Prouvé (and Georges Blanchon) in 1940. Later, she produced her version -- the Portence Pivotante which has recently been reissued by Nemo. This one extends 230cm:

nemo potence pivotante-wall-light-charlotte-perriand

 

Then, soon after, in 1951, the German-born, but England-based, Bernard Schottlander invented his wonderful Mantis range. This is the wall light, that extends 153cm. We have DCW Éditions to thank for their reissuing the collection this year.

DCW Éditions Bernard Schottlander mantis wall

 

 

These weren't the first potences, though.

Bernard-Albin Gras patented the principles behind what is now known as la Lampe Gras in 1921. Again, we thank DCW Éditions for rereleasing this design in all its flamboyant (yet practical) variety. #213 is extendable up to 146cms:

La lampe gras 213 wall light red

 

But the potence which has been most commonly specified over the last forty years is the 265 of 1973 by Paolo Rizzatto for Flos. The short part extends 85cm and the long arm is 205cm...

flos 265 wall light

...and when Delightfull issued the wall version of their Diana (which extends 150cm), they adopted the same format:

delightfull diana wall light blue

Whereas all the lights so far have basically been task/reading lights, Anna Lari's Techno is more a pendant light which happens to be hanging from the wall rather than the ceiling. It is telescopic, from 139cm to 193cm:

Anna lari techno wall light

So, a small but very distinguished family of lights -- so distinguished that there are monographs on Jean Prouvé, Charlotte Perriand and la Lampe Gras, available from Amazon, via our online bookshop.

Why do they matter? First, since (for environmental and comfort reasons), lights should not be placed on or in the ceiling, you need an alternative, if you are to get the light source close to what is being lit. In other situations you may not be able to use the ceiling at all.

Secondly, they are very theatrical. Somewhere out there on the interweb there is a great picture of an architect's office or similar with a row of 265s. When I find it, I'll add it to this post. In the meantime, here are two set shots of 265s being used in smaller quantities...

flos 265 wall light set

flos 265 wall light set...and a Diana:

delightfull diana wall light red

 

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