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Then and Now- An Evolution of Light

UNITED STATES - CIRCA 1911: Inventor and physicist Thomas Alva Edison (1847 - 1931) looking at a lightbulb (Photo by Nathan Lazarnick/George Eastman House/Getty Images)

UNITED STATES – CIRCA 1911: Inventor and physicist Thomas Alva Edison (1847 – 1931) looking at a lightbulb (Photo by Nathan Lazarnick/George Eastman House/Getty Images)

90 years in the lighting industry has allowed us to bear witness to many things.  From the days where lighting was utilized for primarily practical purposes- to now, where the right lighting can serve as a visual anchor that gives weight and purpose to the entire room- we have seen it all.  Since Thomas Edison’s grand production of the first electrified light bulb nearly 120 years ago, the evolution of light has been charging ahead like a freight train at speeds nearly impossible to chase.  Incandescent, Fluorescent, Halogen and now the overall force to be reckoned with- LED, our lamping options have become vast and more efficient than ever.  For around $10, we can now purchase an LED light bulb with a potential life expectancy of 8-10 years!  I have to think that Edison himself would be proud.

Then and Now- Lightolier thomas-edison-light-bulb

The technology is not the only exciting piece of this evolution.  The look and style of lighting fixtures, along with the right placement and layout, has become a pivotal portion of the interior design process today.  “Good lighting” is a much sought after label when consumers are designing their homes.  The precise combination of ambient lighting, task lighting, and accent lighting can make or break the overall look and feel of a space, not to mention it’s functionality.  We have escaped the days of the porcelain sockets and pull-chains.  Decorative lighting is now a fundamental component in any well designed space.

A couple of our veteran employees have watched the decorative lighting trends change drastically over the past two decades working in this industry.  When asked what they remember most about the evolving trends, a few specific details came to mind.  “In 1993 when I started almost everything was in polished brass- with very few exceptions,” says Noel Sheldon, a Creative Lighting employee for over 20 years. “The hot chandeliers were either the polished brass Williamsburg style fixtures, or the builder standard bound-and-beveled brass and glass pieces- specifically the umbrella shaped pendant.”  Noel continues, “Shortly thereafter, Verdigris became the hot new finish, but it didn’t last long.  Kichler Lighting introduced the forerunner of bronze with something called ‘Olde Brick‘ in about ’94 or ’95.  It became the rage and it completely eclipsed polished brass in popularity.  I think everyone was starving for something new.  We don’t think much of it today, but boy was it a hit!”  Brenda Duepner, another two decade veteran of Creative’s, has memories of another trend, “One thing that comes to mind is that you couldn’t go through the work day without hearing the term ‘Country French‘.  People were fascinated with anything labeled with that style, especially a chandelier with a rooster on it!”  Brenda continues, “Ornamented wrought iron chandeliers were also very popular.  I remember one product line where people could choose an animal template to be incorporated into the light fixture- we saw bears, birds, and yes- roosters!”


 As lighting technology keeps evolving, and the industry continues to change, one would think it would be almost impossible to keep up with all of the latest information, trends and product specifications.  Ten years ago, the common homeowner had very little information on LED technology and extremely limited availability for standard residential use.  Now, LED lamping options are becoming more standardized and found in almost every home improvement store across the world.  The lighting landscape continues to grow, and seems to display infinite illumination possibilities.

Even with the forward moving technical advances, what was once old is new again as the original ‘filament style‘ light bulb has become a popular choice in today’s decorative fixtures.  The warm, dim glow from the long filament strands evokes a nostalgic feel, and is represented prominently in today’s ‘farmhouse style’, or ‘steam-punk‘ design trends.  Now- these beautiful, yet short living, lamp options are being produced in more efficient LED versions.  Nostalgia and technology merged into one winning combination!  One would say that you can now “have your bulb- and use it, too.”

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Today’s lighting fixture designs have become more stream-lined and minimal feeling.  Less ornamentation and more transitional style lines are now the desired look.  And, GOLD metal finishes are making a strong come back- being one of the most on-trend metal choices of 2016.

From nostalgic bulbs-to gold finishes, the cyclical nature of this evolving industry seems to have all of us pondering…what’s next?

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