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A New Twist On The Classic Chandelier: Modern Hanging Lights From Zuo Modern

I love lighting. I love rooms that get lots of natural light, rooms that are well lit, and lighting fixtures that flatter the spaces they’re in. I also love it when designers take a hop and a step out of the norm to try something fresh and new. Chandeliers are lovely and iconic, sure – but I think there’s plenty of room to improve and innovate. That’s why I’m a huge fan of the hanging lighting fixtures from Zuo Modern – they have all the sophistication and elegance you’d expect from a classical form, but with a totally cutting edge modern style. From relatively simple bulbs suspended on strings to complex mobile-inspired fixtures, these pendant lights are a great way to add a modern flair to your design.

Suspended Disbelief

Celeron Ceiling Lamp Pure 50099 in Clear from Zuo Modern
Celeron Ceiling Lamp Pure 50099 in Clear from Zuo Modern

Many modern hanging lights and ceiling fixtures actually have a similar design – many small pendants or even just decorative bulbs attached to a long, covered cord. Some are designed to come together in a sort of bouquet, while others have flexible cloth cords that can be draped or arranged as you please, making them delightfully customizable in terms of height, length, and positioning. And then there are those like this lovely Celeron Fixture which are a fixed height and length, all attached to a single base, but hanging individually. I actually really love the simple femininity of this design, with the simple glass sheaths suspended from 55 inch long wires – very minimal, but with a nice sense of balance and weightlessness.

Gravity Defying “Crystal Chandeliers”

Inertia Ceiling Lamp 50115 in Clear from Zuo Modern
Inertia Ceiling Lamp 50115 in Clear from Zuo Modern

While I’m a fan of traditional chandeliers, they certainly aren’t for every space. And while it’s possible to make them work in a modern decor, you need a strong eye for design and iron nerves to pull it off well. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get shades of that luxurious style in a smaller or more modern home. In fact, I might like modern hanging fixtures that riff on classic chandeliers even more than I like the chandeliers themselves. Take this Inertia Ceiling Lamp – it has one of my favorite chandelier features in the draping, light catching clear baubles, but these small glass balls are disembodied, connected by threads so thin you can hardly see them. Without the actual chandelier part, you get something much, much more modern, but without losing the shimmering gossamer beauty of the dangling crystals.

Playing On Expectations

Shooting Stars Ceiling Lamp 50029 in Chrome from Zuo Modern
Shooting Stars Ceiling Lamp 50029 in Chrome from Zuo Modern

In that same vein is this lovely Shooting Stars Light, which actually uses the same type and shape crystals you’d expect to find on a more conventional chandelier. The twist here is that instead of an elaborate cast brass base, this “chandelier” is hung from a single simple chrome bar. The look is both utterly modern and tastefully classic, one part mobile and one part chic dining room lighting. I like it especially for the way it catches the light, with traditional flame-shaped bulbs that point down instead of up and blend in with the suspended strands of crystals, showing them off to the best effect.

Make It A Mobile?

Epsilon Ceiling Lamp 50088 in White from Zuo Modern
Epsilon Ceiling Lamp 50088 in White from Zuo Modern

What I like most about this style of light, though, is not so much the sense of weightlessness inherent in the suspension of the various parts, or even the wink-and-nod reference to older forms. It’s the sense of motion created by several different lights suspended near one another, especially at different heights. This Epsilon Light accomplishes this especially well, with a scattering of luminous globe lights that give the impression both of something dripping or raining downward and, simultaneously, of something floating upwards – reminiscent of rising paper lanterns. This design doesn’t owe homage to any particular traditional design, and that’s part of why I think it’s so brilliant – it’s both unexpected and unique, a great way to add the flair of modern lighting to your space, a minimalist sense of elegance, and (with 9 25 watt bulbs) a whole lot of light.

Vertical Track Lighting?

Meteor Shower Ceiling Lamp 50102 in Chrome from Zuo Modern
Meteor Shower Ceiling Lamp 50102 in Chrome from Zuo Modern

Finally, chandeliers aren’t the only type of lighting that modern designers have gotten their hands on. I particularly like this Meteor Shower Hanging Light, which plays on the conventional idea of track lighting. It has the same metal globe casings (though with more holes to let out light), but rather than sitting on a long horizontal metal track, it (like many of the other hanging lights I’ve mentioned here) is suspended on a series of thin wires. Once again, this has a cool sense of motion to it, with each light hanging at a different height and slightly different placement to create a subtle snaking curve. The finish is a highly modern chrome, and again the fixture exhibits a delicate minimalism – perfect for a modern space.

Modern design has a bad reputation for being stark and minimalist, but stripping down, reassembling, and re-imagining traditional lighting fixtures is a great way to add a touch of elegance and glamour to a contemporary space.