Yesterday I talked a bit about how well the color white works in modern design, especially win modern lighting fixtures. But it’s a topic near and dear to my heart, and one that I think is worth revisiting. So, if Part 1 was about light, shadow, and texture, today I’d like to talk about shape and motion. White lighting fixtures are daring, able to cram a whole lot of detail into a small space almost purely by virtue of the simplicity of the color, and the sculpture-like quality of white makes for some amazingly statuesque designs.
This Millennia white lighting fixture is actually very simple: it’s made of stacked, slightly offset triangles of white metal with a bulb inside. But the design creates a spectacular sense of motion – almost like a mobile, despite the fact that the shade itself is stationary. The way the light shines through the cracks between each layer enhances this sensation of motion and depth, while the juxtaposition of the lines creates the illusion of curves. The result? A modern pendant light that’s both incredibly simple and extremely eye-catching.
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Similarly, this Twirl pendant is made of dozens of repeating half circles stacked and wound around a central pole to create a gorgeous spiral reminiscent of a seashell. Each individual piece of this white lighting fixture is spaced close enough together to create the illusion of a solid object, but also left just far enough apart to allow a little light to slip through. The result is a beautiful contrast of light and shadow, the impression of movement (it reminds me abstractly of a pinwheel or wind sock), and above all, incredibly unique – perfect for a creating a modern space, especially if you want to try a white-on-white design.
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Make A Statement With Shape
One of the greatest things about white lighting fixtures is that white shows every shape and every curve, highlighting edges and folds dramatically in a sharp contrast of light and shadow. Some of my favorite designs use simple repeating textures like this spectacular Meringue pendant, which glows from within when turned on and catches shadows when left off in natural light. More than most types of lamps, and certainly more than any other color, white lighting fixtures offer an extremely tactile experience, with every detail shown as the light filters through different parts of the light differently.
Lights On And Lights Off
This Cerebro pendant is a close cousin of the Meringue, with tighter looped folds that look almost like ruffles. Here, the light is pictured off, but in full view of natural light from a pair of french doors. The effect makes this white lighting fixture extremely bright, while the “dark side” shows off the rippling, ruffly, (brain like?) texture as it gradually falls into shadow. White lighting fixtures in general and modern pendants like this one in particular become a central statement piece in any room you put them in, drawing the eye whether they’re turned on or not.
Manipulate The Shape
Observative readers may have noticed that where white lighting fixtures bend inwards, they appear brighter, while outer edges are darkened. Well, smart designers take full advantage of this fact and play up the edges and indentations to full effect. This Intergalactic pendant goes even a step farther, spacing each of the round slices of the lamp just far enough apart that they actually cast shadows on themselves. That way, not only does the “eye” of the light seem to glow, but the carefully arranged shape has a double appearance of depth.
White lighting fixtures have the freedom to be a whole lot more bold than most other designs. Because ostensibly a white fixture can blend back into a white background more than, say, a lamp done in neon orange and butterfly polka dots, they can get away with a lot more without actually looking busy. This Jacques pendant is nothing if not wild, with dozens of stacked acrylic disks, but because it’s done in white, it manages to work. Rather than looking busy, it looks almost statuesque, but also extremely modern – a statement piece that manages to be both subtle and bold.
What do you think of white lighting fixtures? Is this very modern design something you’d like to see in your own home?
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