Your Guide To Lighting Styles
Although the world of lighting is packed with unique designs, most fixtures draw their inspirations from a few distinct stylistic families. This simple breakdown makes it far easier to pick your favorites and coordinate them with other decor elements
Modern and contemporary lighting generally encompasses any fixture with a design that’s more recent than the 1930s. Although this includes quite a wide range of styles, there are a few defining characteristics. Those who create modern fixtures are willing to break the mold and really let their artistry speak for itself
Simple shapes, clean ornamentation and an orderly progression of line and form dominate these fixtures. Unlike some of their predecessors, contemporary styles are clearly designed for optimal illumination and minimal fanfare.
Most traditional lighting is inspired by various forms of European furniture and architectural designs. Unlike many modern styles, these fixtures exhibit more flourished profiles, and designers aren’t afraid to accent curves with ornate details. Chandeliers, sconces and other fixtures draw on neoclassicist styles to create refined elegance in decorative packages.
These fixtures represent the beginning of the evolution away from traditional concepts. Just as traditional design rejected the fancy frills of palatial architectural styles, like Rococo and Baroque, the first transitional fixtures gradually moved more towards the smooth minimalism that contemporary lighting would eventually embrace. Their halfway-between state and aesthetic sensibilities might be partially explained by the fact that the original designers were still bound to materials like metal and wood.
Industrial lighting uses no-nonsense, utilitarian styles that put function before form more so than any other family. In doing so, they make their origins clear. From brushed metal surfaces and sleek pipe-fitting styles, these bright industrial lighting designs are low-key, straightforward and ultimately practical.
Craftsman & Mission
This lighting style is known for its firm association with the early 20th century Arts and Crafts movement of Frank Lloyd Wright fame. While some designers were fully immersing themselves in the joy of readily available new materials, like improved metal alloys and plastics, others yearned to go back to their rustic origins. Here, simple chains, posts and other functional elements merge with sleek glass shades and metal fluting as they reveal earth tones and geometric designs.
Wrought iron lights are unique because even though they predate many classic and traditional designs, they don’t try to obscure the essence of their form. Even with the advent of modern manufacturing techniques, these fixtures incorporate a hand-made style that immediately makes people think of traditional blacksmiths. Originally, wrought iron was made of iron and steel that was worked and bent using heat, hammers and other techniques that allowed it to take on curling shapes, interesting textures and natural designs.
Nautical lighting takes its cue from classic ship lanterns and dockside fixtures. Although it may have moved on from burning whale oil, it still features the smooth glass-and-metal combinations that call to mind images of cruise ships and luxury liners past. These fixtures apply some of the same bronze and brushed steel ideas that industrial lighting does, but they do so in a more compact, unified package.
Which kinds of lighting might suit your next design project? It can be difficult to choose alone. Talk to one of our experts to make your decision easier.