Chandeliers are typically associated with antique styles and old world design. You know the kind – big, imposing, crystal-laden chandeliers made to dominate large parlors or grand staircases and are more about look than lighting. But if your living space is a little more modern, never fear. Modern chandeliers are increasingly available, and are simpler, sleeker, and more refined than their conventional counterparts. Minimal, modern chandeliers can add both style and sophistication to a contemporary living space, without any of the overblown decadence of a traditional crystal chandelier.
The main difference between traditional and modern chandeliers is simplicity of design. While conventional crystal chandeliers have many individual branches and lots of tiny, dimmer lights, modern chandeliers tend to be more geometric and minimal in design. This Hemispheres Chandelier is a nice example – it’s stunning not for its ornate detailing, but for the simple intersection of geometric shapes – the gyroscope-esque intersection of circles, the pyramid of bars holding them in place, and the simple candle-style lights that seem to hover weightlessly in between.
Material is also quite important to keep in mind when considering modern chandeliers. While most traditional chandeliers (especially crystal chandeliers) are typically made of bronze, brass, or gilt, modern chandeliers are almost always made out of chrome or a similarly reflective metal. Most obviously, this is because chrome is the primary metal choice of modern design and nearly ubiquitous in modern furnishings, but also because it looks less opulent and lush but more visually striking. This Dione Chandelier is actually fairly traditional in shape, but the use of chrome and complete removal of expected ornamentation make this piece stunningly unexpected and eye catching.
Some modern chandeliers, like this Parisienne Chandelier, are much more loosely inspired by the design of traditional chandeliers. The cylindrical shade is typical of hotel-style chandeliers, but instead of a cascade of simple crystal teardrops out the bottom, you get a cool, geometric, maybe slightly retro swag of reflective metal rings (in this case, silver leaf instead of chrome) with crystals suspended in the center. It’s a modern twist on an old style with all the decadence and sophistication of a traditional chandelier, but made for a modern space.
Then again, the coolest modern chandeliers are the ones that forsake the conventional chandelier design entirely. I love this Odyssey Chandelier, which merges the modern use of chrome with more conventional crystals in a totally unique style. Instead of a central frame with dangling crystals, this modern chandelier is made of many multiple strands of chrome wrapped crystal beads, with 18 lights that gleam and reflect off the metal and crystal. The placement of the strands forms a mass of crystals that are at once floating and disembodied and part of a solid whole – a great visual trick for a modern decor, and a nice way to integrate traditional materials into an extremely modern design.
Some modern chandeliers are anything but traditional, though – not in form or materials. Like the Odyssey, this Solexa Chandelier is fairly round in shape, but instead of suspended strands of crystals, this chandelier is made almost entirely of blown glass – long tapered tubes connected at the center that fold out, flower like, at the ends for a stunning starburst appearance. It’s totally out of the realm of the expected for a chandelier…which makes it an excellent modern statement piece.
This Villa Chandelier has a slightly more traditional shape – a central hub with branching out lights – but again infuses a traditional design with a more playful modern twist. In this case, that means sticking with a conventional bronze body (which is quite unusual among modern chandeliers), but turning it into a beautiful, sinuous floral design, with a looping, winding, leaf-like body and vining branches that burst into colorful glass flower-shaped light shades. As much a statue as it is a light, this chandelier is perfect for a more intimate modern design – one that’s more artistic and less cold and geometric. Plus, it comes in several different sizes and colors to flexibly fit just about any modern space.
For a smaller space, especially one with lower ceilings (like an urban apartment or condo), you don’t want a chandelier with a lot of drapes or droops, or one that you have to suspend very far from the ceiling to get the full effect. I like these Skyline Chandeliers if you’re tight on space. Mimicking a panoramic city view, these pendant style chandeliers are simple but stylish, and can easily be repeated throughout a long or odd shaped room that might not be able to accommodate a traditional chandelier.
Pendant style modern chandeliers also come in a huge variety of designs, sometimes patterned, sometimes geometric, and sometimes playing more on layers of shape than design. I also like this Zarah Chandelier – it’s simple but sleek, with a polished nickel surface that will make it right at home in a chrome-heavy setting, but flexible for a more casual design as well. Simply: if your space won’t afford you a full sized chandelier, look for smaller, pendant sized versions of your favorite styles, or simply pendant-inspired chandeliers like this one that can sit closer to your ceiling without sacrificing style.
What type of modern chandeliers are you interested in? Do you prefer chandeliers with a traditional inspiration, something very geometric, or something a little more artistic? Have any space restrictions that are holding up the process? Let me know in the comments!