Redesigning Reality: Yes, That’s a Light!
From Freaky to Fabulous, these Designer Lights Stand Out
By now, it's almost a certainty that you've seen the above image in ads for The LightForm Anniversary Sale (on now, come on down! editor's note: not actually on anymore, but we still invite you to come on down!). We chose this image of Brokis' Memory ceiling lights because of the lighthearted whimsy of the design and composition--suggesting a party or celebration (such as The LightForm Anniversary Sale, which, we might note, is (ed.: no longer) on now!)--as well as the skill and craftsmanship each of these lights represents.
But a problem confronted us: would people know that these balloon-resembling luminaires were, in fact, luminaires without us drawing attention to the fact? In the end, we decided to trust our clients and community to recognize that yes, that's a light. But the question itself led us to think about all the many designer lights that, perhaps, aren't immediately recognizable as lights.
Whether designed to resemble something else or simply unlikely in their forms, the world of lighting design has often produced luminaires that sought to reflect, distort, or just challenge our perceptions of the world. We've curated this list of designer lights that, one way or another, set themselves apart and may cause your to say to guests: "yes, that's a light!"
Bacco table from Karman
Bacco table lamp, designed by Matteo Ugolini for Karman
Named for Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, Karman's Bacco table light combines the warm intimacy of candlelight with the slender, familiar shape of a wine bottle. Designed by Karman creative director Matteo Ugolini, Bacco is a simple, friendly light perfect for evenings spent sharing a glass with family, friends, and lovers.
Night Birds from Brokis
Boris Klimek's Night Birds from Brokis is available in indoor and outdoor variants
In designing the Night Birds collection of pendants, Boris Klimek combined Brokisglass--a new and unique material created by Brokis from the remnants produced from Janstejn Glassworks--with shapes so elegantly simple that their use to represent birds date back to ancient cave paintings. Used in clusters, Night Birds pendants add a lighthearted yet refined air to your dining room, hall, or--in the outdoor-rated versions--your patio or terrace.
Corner Office series from Pablo
Pablo's Corner Office 30 was designed by Peter Stathis and Michael McCoy to help you focus on your work
The base Corner Office task light from Pablo is sleek, unobtrusive, and adds a sense of contemporary scholarship to your space along with its selection of power ports. What makes the Corner Office system remarkable, however, is that it was designed to be the foundation of a conveniently moveable office station, with noise-absorbing privacy panels and an optional pocket accessory to keep you organized wherever you work.
LaFleur Portable Table from Slamp
Marc Sadler's LaFleur table light from Slamp, available in velvet (front) and classic (back) finishes
Marc Sadler sought to combine the lithe, organic flow of a blossoming flower with the powerful, dynamic character of technology in LaFleur portable table lamp. Every LaFleur blossom is hand-shaped from a heated sheet of Slamp's unique Lentiflex™ technopolymer. Illuminated by rechargeable-battery-powered integrated LEDs, this vibrant material breathes emotion and luxury.
Terho Family from Mater
Maija Puoskari's divinely simple designs for Mater's Terho Small, Medium, and Large allow them to be easily combined for elegant clusters
Just looking at the pendants that make up the Terho family from Mater, it is no surprise that "terho" is Finnish for "acorns." The Terho collection luxuriates in simplicity and stands as a prime example of the commitment to nature and sustainability that defines both Mater and designer Maija Puoskari. Constructed of sustainably-sourced wood and mouth-blown glass from Poland, Terho pendants are a manifold expression of the love and value of nature.
Acrilica Table from Oluce
Joe and Gianni Colombo's Acrilica table light for Oluce is a distinctly unique abstract design
A union of kinetic art and design, Acrilica table light from Oluce was a part of the plastics revolution in the world of design. These new materials allowed form and contour in furniture and lighting designs that were previously impossible, causing an explosion of creativity, which Joe and Gianni Colombo took still further with Acrilica. Not simply playing with form, Acrilica exploits methacrylate's ability to transmit and carry light to create its distinctive character.
Filo Collection from Foscarini
Simple concept; complex form. Andrea Anastasio's Filo table lamp for Foscarini is a work of art
You might, at first glance, think that Foscarini's Filo collection is just a collection of components awaiting assembly. But, in fact, these deconstructivist luminaires are complete, and intended to celebrate the unseen and the hidden elements that contribute to the world as we see it. Andrea Anastasio designed Filo wall, table, and floor lights in this way to provoke and inspire those who fall under their light to look more deeply and reflect upon the part of the world they may take for granted.
Balance Collection from Archilume
Balance P2 suspension light, designed by Archilume founder Saleem Khattak, is an expression of refined luxury
Much like plastics, high-quality LEDs unleashed a torrent of creativity within the lighting community--indeed most of the lights in this list could not exist without it. Canadian lighting designer Saleem Khattak founded Archilume in 2006 to explore the potential of LEDs in designer lighting, with a particular focus upon quality, luxury, and class. Balance P1 and P2 suspension lights are exemplary in this, combining integrated LEDs, machined aluminum, and an acrylic lens to bestow a touch of Art Deco character upon your space.
Re and Regina from FontanaArte
Designed for FontanaArte by Bobo Piccoli, Re (left) and Regina (right) table lamps are icons of design
Newly rereleased, FontanaArte's Re and Regina table lamps were Bobo Piccoli's 1968 interpretation of the chess pieces that rule over the rest of the board. Tall and distinguished, Re table light makes a stately and dignified presence in any sitting room, lounge, or study, while Regina's shorter, wider form suggests the agility and power of the piece that inspired her.
Riflesso Collection from Vistosi
Available in table and pendant typologies, Vistosi's Riflesso was designed by Chiaramonte & Marin to be as versatile as it is ethereal
With forms resembling the rich, luxurious forms of high-end perfume bottles, Vistosi's Riflesso collection uses integrated LEDs to illuminate its blown-glass diffusers. In designing Riflesso, Chiaramonte & Marin were inspired by the way soap bubbles interact with light and evoke the contemplative joy of childhood memories. Riflesso enjoys a variety of diffuser shapes in both table and suspension typologies, allowing you to build a simple yet emotional lighting plan.
Boucle Portable Table from DCWéditions
Eric de Dormaël's Boucle portable table lamp for DCWéditions
You might, at first glance, think that DCWéditions' Boucle is just an objet d'art. But, in fact, it is a portable table light designed by Eric de Dormaël to provide intimate illumination as a table centrepiece. Using integrated LEDs, the light, ethereal character of Boucle portable table light comes to life, reflecting from every intricately-shaped strand of brushed brass--a visual metaphor for the vibrance, complexity, and beauty of a good conversation.
Poise Table from Kundalini
Robert Dabi's Poise table light for Kundalini
In Kundalini's Poise table lamp, lighting designer Robert Dabi uses cutting-edge technology paired with painstaking engineering to express an abstract concept in physical form. Poise embodies its name through the balance it maintains, even when placed in positions that make it appear impossible. Eternally unflappable, Poise table light is both a triumph of design and a breathtaking physical metaphor.
Trave Wall from Bert Frank
Trave wall sconce from Bert Frank
Inspired by the organic lines and luxe materials common to mid-century modern design, Bert Frank's Trave collection is perfect for audiophiles looking to offer friendly, stylish illumination to their personal listening space. Although it's unlikely that Trave's meticulously-crafted blown-glass diffuser and marble cap were based upon the shape of an LP, the resemblance is still fitting. Mid-century modern style not only arose during the same era that gave us hi-fi audio enthusiasts, but has been joined in its recent revival by a renewed interest in vinyl LPs. Now you can indulge your eyes as you indulge your ears with classic albums like Poe for Moderns (which, insanely, we absolutely did not make up).
Kanpazar 150C from B.lux
Joe Santacoloma's Kanpazar 150C outdoor floor light from B.lux on the rooftop patio at the Clarendon Hotel
We discussed B.lux's Kanpazar family earlier this year in a curated article on Outdoor Lighting. Although sleek and unnatural in shape, the family--and particularly Kanpazar 150C, which adds a flowerpot-like base to the white teardrop Kanpazar diffuser--was clearly inspired by topiary. Jon Santacoloma's design is ingenious in its ability to be at once energizing and calming, creating a marvellous atmosphere lining patios, gardens, and terraces.
BlancoWhite R3 Table from Santa & Cole
Part of the BlancoWhite collection from Antoni Arola, Santa & Cole's BlancoWhite R3 table light is functional and beautiful
You might, at first glance, think that Santa & Cole's BlancoWhite R3 Table is just a table or extra ledge for decluttering your desk. But, in fact, it is also an expressive accent light designed by Antoni Arola to explore our relationship with light by juxtaposing clean, minimalist lines with soft, warm light. By engineering the smart LED plate on the table's underside through both distribution and shape of the LED dots, Arola deftly sculpts the light BlancoWhite R3 table throws, making the table appear to float above your workspace upon a cushion of light.
Belterra Collection from Tech Lighting
With several available variants, Tech Lighting's Belterra collection can be as calm or energetic as you like
The clean lines and translucently textured petals of Tech Lighting's Belterra collection clearly point to the organic inspiration behind Sean Lavin's designs. With each individual petal resembling the "helicopter seeds" common to trees such as ash, maple, and sycamore, the overall composition of every Belterra chandelier was based upon the exotic beauty of lotus flowers. With stems available in one of three metal finishes, Belterra chandeliers evoke the luxury of nature in your powder room, dining room, or entryway.
Perch Collection from Moooi
Umut Yama's Perch Light floor lamp (left) and Perch Light Branch suspension from Moooi
British lighting designer Umut Yamac imbued his Perch collection from Moooi with a double-layered form-based meaning. In designing this lighthearted yet expressive collection of designer lights, Yamac sought to capture the beauty and poetry of birds perched amid tree branches and singing to the world. To express this poetry, he further drew upon the Japanese art of origami to form the birds themselves. This mélange of concepts has resulted in a collection of lights that is as whimsical, expressive, and elegant as the birds that inspired it, but won't poop all over your house.
Pole Collection from Roll & Hill
Roll & Hill's Pole collection by Philippe Malouin lends itself to breaking up negative space
The Pole collection of lights from Roll & Hill relies upon precise engineering to create its collection of flexible, modular designer lights. Designed by Philippe Malouin, the Pole collection is defined by not only their minimalist character, but by their versatility. A strip of LEDs shines out from the side of an almost impossibly-narrow aluminium stem, which is rigid yet flexible enough to arc luxuriously from surface to surface.
G+T Battery Portable Table from Contardi
G+T Battery portable reading lamp, designed for Contardi by Jeffrey Glass
Sleek, slender, and adjustable, Contardi's G+T Battery portable table light makes an intriguingly ideal reading lamp. Tonic dispensers in high-end hotel bars served to inspire Jeffrey Glass' simple yet evocative design, which contrasts warm braided leather with cool metal accents. In addition to its adjustable neck, this portable version of G+T adds an extra level of versatility through the available wall bracket, table bracket, or counterweighted leather strap for hanging over the back of a chair or sofa.
Jeeves wall from Innermost
Jake Phipps' Jeeves wall sconce from Innermost is a fun, whimsical addition to any lighting plan
It is perhaps only fitting that Innermost, the lighting brand that seeks to be quintessentially British, would count among its luminaires a design inspired by P.G. Wodehouse's quintessential gentleman's gentleman. Jeeves wall sconce, designed by Jake Phipps, takes the form of a bowler--also known as a "derby" by those across the pond who compound the error by mispronouncing the word--as often worn by Bertram Wooster's devoted and resourceful valet (properly pronounced, in this circumstance, "vallett"), whose sense of style was as timeless as it was unyielding to his master's fad-based whims.
Nestor Armchair from Mater
Nestor armchair from Mater, designed by Tom Stepp
You might, at first glance, think that Mater's Nestor armchair is just a chair. But, in fact, it is--wait. No. It is just a chair. Not a light. Our mistake.
Eos from UMAGE
Søren Ravn Christensen's Eos collection of lights for UMAGE is light, airy, and utterly unique
When Søren Ravn Christensen began to design the Eos collection for Danish lighting brand UMAGE, he sought to create a luminaire that would evoke the warmth, comfort, and coziness of home--but with sophistication, elegance, and an entirely unique character. He realized this goal through the use of all-natural goose feathers, which filter and diffuse the light within. The parallel softness of feathers and light imbues your space with a sense of peace and calm.
Mr. n Table from Koncept
Mr. n table lamp from Koncept
When brothers Kenneth and Edmund Ng joined with their lighting designer father Peter to found Koncept in 2002, they sought to bring their unique appreciation of technology to their own line of designer lights. Mr. n table light is a playful yet dignified expression of this goal, combining a sleek, futuristic character with a friendly minimalist form. The exterior of Mr. n's arched shape uses advanced light panel technology to create a seamless illuminated surface, controlled with the touch of a finger through the on/off/dimming touch-sensor located in the slim metallic strip at its base.
Yoyo from Stuff by Andrew Neyer
Light, fun, and simple: Yoyo pendant light from Stuff by Andrew Neyer
Let's not bury the lede here: Yoyo pendant light looks like a yoyo. It couldn't be clearer if Andrew Neyer had designed it to have a little sign saying "this light resembles a yoyo." And, the fact is, we can't be entirely sure that that wasn't in an early prototype, since the trademark of Stuff by Andrew Neyer designs is a whimsical lightheartedness. Like every Andrew Neyer creation, Yoyo suspension light has a buoyancy and verve that energizes spaces from dining rooms to restaurant lounges.
Boom Suspension from Stickbulb
Like all Stickbulb lighting designs, Boom suspension light is as sustainable as it is beautiful
You might, at first glance, think that Stickbulb's Boom pendant light is a pendant light. And you'd be right. The conceptual genius of engineering a pendant light to masquerade as a pendant light is too meta for even us to fully appreciate, but we are still tremendous fans. Boom pendant light is available in a variety of finishes, all of which use wood from ethical and sustainable sources--including uniquely-patterned redwood reclaimed from demolished New York City water towers--Boom is an energetic and powerful statement piece.
Kona Wall from Original BTC
Kona wall light, designed by Beadlight for Original BTC
Sleek and refined, Kona wall light--as well as the other recessed wall lights designed by Beadlight for Original BTC--makes use of meticulous engineering to create the perfect bedside reading light. Flush with the wall, Kona is unobtrusive. To turn it on, one simply presses the dimple, illuminating and angling the LED, which can then be swivelled from side to side such that its light falls precisely where you desire it. Ideal for hospitality applications, Kona is also perfect for minimalist bedroom designs.
Decanterlight Collection from Lee Broom
Lee Broom's Decanterlight collection in a linear cluster over a hotel bar in Sao Paulo, Brazil
Lee Broom's Decanterlight series of suspension lights provide a key insight into the lighting designer's mind. Whereas our usual reaction to decanters sitting on a sideboard is "why bother? Just wastes time before yummy rummy in the tummy," Lee Broom's was to envision bold and charismatic diffusers. Available in Square, Tulip, and Bell--as well as two predesigned cluster lights--the Decanterlight collection is the embodiment of luxurious class.
Tina Collection from a-emotional light
Arturo Alvarez explored classic materials in a new way for the Tina collection
You might, at first glance… what? Okay, fine... we admit we've played that gag out.
When Arturo Alvarez designed the Tina collection, he wasn't necessarily inspired by the Queen of Rock & Roll's iconic hair, but the resemblance was certainly noted when it came time to name these divine lights. What led Arturo Alvarez to create this buoyantly fun collection was nothing more than a desire to play with simple materials, remove them from their usual context, and see what this creativity-focused process produces. With the Tina collection, it led to a juxtaposition of substance and void in a celebration of volume and presence.
Wrap Collection from SkLO
Every Wrap collection light or decorative object from SkLO is entirely unique
Imagine a magician at a birthday party, inflating a long, slender balloon before twisting it into fanciful shapes to the delight of one and all. Now imagine the balloon is molten glass, and the person inflating it is a skilled artisan drawing on a centuries-old glassblowing tradition to create a multilayered glass form that weighs several pounds. This form is then moulded and coaxed into a unique form that will catch, reflect, and refract light in a way that is entirely distinct to it. That's real magic.
Cactus Sunrise Collection from Seletti
Designed by marcantonio for Seletti, Cactus Sunrise Medium, Small, and Large are fun and friendly
Although not as realistically-rendered as some of his other collections for Seletti such as Bird Lamp and Monkey Lamp, the Cactus Sunrise collection is yet another of celebrated lighting designer marcantonio's whimsically beautiful reinterpretations of reality. Available in three sizes, Cactus Sunrise table lights are individually handmade, making each and every one entirely unique, although always both playful and exuberant.
Circ Mirrors from Estiluz
Nahtrang Studio's Circ collection for Estiluz focuses on glowing orbs, and the luscious light they provide.
You might, at first glance (HA HA FOOLED YOU), think that Estiluz's Circ mirrors are just mirrors. If this is the case, we suggest you get your eyes checked, because there's a huge illuminated globe sitting on the surface of the mirror and it's kind of hard to miss.
We include the small, medium, and large Circ mirrors in this list not because you won't believe they are lights, but because of how easy Nahtrang Studio's designs make it to forget that the lamp is there. The Circ collection's light is bright, yet soft and diffuse, making the illuminated sphere unobtrusive to the eye, while the light's character makes Circ mirrors as perfect for makeup application as taking Outfit Of The Day selfies (which my editor tells me is a thing).
Did We Mention The LightForm Anniversary Sale?
Naturally, these are merely a small selection of the ingenious designer lights available online or through one of our offices and showrooms in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Kelowna, and Winnipeg. And, for a limited time, you can enjoy rare sitewide savings with The LightForm Anniversary Sale--which we're not sure we mentioned yet, so we just wanted to get that in before we close (ed.: although it's not actually on anymore).
On now. (ed.: not really)
For a limited time. (ed.: that has elapsed)
…(The LightForm Anniversary Sale).
…(editor's final note: again, not actually on anymore, so please don't expect to find it when you click through on these links that we could have easily replaced instead of adding these notes now that I think about it but oh bother I'm definitely getting another talking to about thinking things through before doing them.)