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Pendant Lighting

Apr 2, 2008
The pendant light has become a very popular choice of illumination for interior designers and do-it-yourself individuals alike. While some may see it as a growing trend, pendant lighting has a rich, even ancient history. The first examples of pendant lights were introduced around 2700 BC in early Greek civilization. They were suspended, or hanging, clay pots which held animal fat, or perfumed oil, with one or more wicks, all inside a holder. The holders and pots were often elaborately decorated and of various shapes. The Romans were the first to use bronze and other metals to hold the fuel oil. The introduction of man-made glass, that could be shaped, was a major step in the history of pendant lighting because the light could be seen from the bottom and illumination was greatly increased. Examples of pendant lighting can be seen in almost every civilization and architectural style since its introduction.

Pendant lights come in a large variety of styles. The main categories are bowl pendants, large pendants (under 12 inches), multi light or island pendants, foyer pendants and mini pendants (under 12 inches). Each one has distinctive shapes and sizes, as well as uses. Large pendant lights and multi light pendants work best for illuminating dining tables and kitchen islands, while mini pendant lights work better in smaller spaces for more subtle lighting. Bowl-shaped pendants, with the open side down, or inverted, with the open side up, can be used in almost any room. The shape allows for great use of form and function, and can soften the tone of austere lines or a very structured space. Foyer pendant lights are generally used in a foyer or entryway, and are becoming more and more popular on outside entrances and walkways.

Viewed as accessories, pendant lights can be chosen for their color, pattern or texture, or for their form, which gives an architectural presence. Pendants give a room style points! A paper shade that looks like an inverted layer-cake is a crisp, strong focal point over any table. Advanced technology now encourages interesting mixes of media or application on pendant lights, such as pierced shades made of laser-cut aluminum, brass, or even plastic.

According to Sergio Orozco, a Manhattan based furniture and lighting designer, who was born in Colombia and schooled in the fine arts in Italy, pendants are, "as important to a room as your best piece of furniture." Orozco cut his design teeth in the American market under the tutelage of the legendary designer Chick Meyers who, at age 85, still heads the design firm he founded in Florida. According to Orozco, pendant lights "reflect your taste and add a finishing touch. You're buying an accessory that lights up. Pendants can create an island. They can reflect, diffuse, or be translucent." The result, Orozco says, is "magic, drama, intimacy. Pendants are more like pieces of jewelry in the home. They sparkle, bring in color, soften a clean austere environment. Actually, a lamp should be interesting and pretty, even without the light." Whether they are used to make a bold style statement, or softly brighten a dark corner, pendant lighting beautifully accents any space it illuminates.
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