The New Lighting

The New Lighting

Glare has long been banned; now comes the newer diffusion, the “sky-scraper” lamp and strip-lighting

MARY AGNES PEASE January 1 1929
The New Lighting

The New Lighting

Glare has long been banned; now comes the newer diffusion, the “sky-scraper” lamp and strip-lighting

MARY AGNES PEASE January 1 1929

The New Lighting

Glare has long been banned; now comes the newer diffusion, the “sky-scraper” lamp and strip-lighting

MARY AGNES PEASE

THE marvelous possibilities of electric light seem to have been suddenly realized, and a decided change has taken place in the method of diffusing it. In the fittings for modern lighting the designer’s aim is to simulate daylight as perfectly as possible, and at the same time achieve the most artistic effect. The general opinion seems to be that in no other mode of modern decoration are beauty and efficiency combined to such a remarkable degree.

A.n electrical engineer told me recently that the reason we had for so many years used electric light as we would a lamp or a candle was because we had never realized the difference between light and illumination; that what we see by is not any particular light, but illumination this light affords. As he expressed it: “Light is the cause, illumination the result.” The new method, therefore, is to control light in the best way for illumination; to see that it is sufficient, properly directed and correctly balanced.

The diffusion of light is accomplished by clever shading. In the “sky-scraper” light as illustrated, we have an example of this. The thick, white glass with its straight, upward lines diffuses the glare and provides comfort for the eyes. I was in a room not long ago that was furnished in the new manner. On one of the low tables were some interesting objets d’art, and in looking at them I became suddenly aware of very effective light in that part of the room where the table was placed, and discovered that it was provided by a small wall light, the shade of which was built on the cubist plan with horizontal as well as longitudinal angles. This diffused a general glow throughout rather than merely lighting its immediate surroundings.

Changes in style seem to have a disturbing effect upon people who are content with the backwaters of life and feel afraid of the swiftly-moving fashions in this speeddriven age. But everything was modern once—even the old furniture that they regard with family pride and affection, and was probably received with distaste when it came into being. “The world do move,” and we may as well travel with it and enjoy the wonders of the twentieth century. After all, what is “modernism” but the symbol of life as it is now lived? It stands, in so far as furnishing is concerned, for beauty of line, comfort, spaciousness, color, simplicity of ornament, and— illumination. The new lighting is not only beautiful but makes for good eyesight and health which no one

can afford to ignore, particularly when we remember that about a third of our waking hours has to be spent by artificial light.

Camouflaged Lamps

A VISIT to the lamp departments of many of our 2house-furnishing shops gives one the impression that there has been a vast collection of ancient jars, vases and bottles which have been converted into electric lamps. The problem of transforming attractive pieces of china or glass into lamp bases is now a very simple matter. An adjustable fixture is available which can be made to fit the neck of the bottle or vase. It has a metal container for the electric bulb and is also equipped with wire and a base plug. This method has encouraged many people to use as bases for lamps, some of their lovely china and glass pieces which they did not care to subject to the dangers of boring as was the method in former days.

Another point is that by this new method, the pieces can be restored at will to their former uses without fear and reproach.

Some of the new shades are very beautiful, so much so that it is difficult to make a selection. A lamp that seems beautiful in a shop will sometimes prove a disappointment when it is brought into the room for which it was chosen. Matloch Price, a recognized authority on household furnishing and interior decorating, offers a few useful suggestions for the

perplexed seeker of novel lamps. He says:

“The lamps with bases made from fine Chinese vases—usually fitted with beautiful Chinese shades— are a good choice for a room with Queen Anne walnut or Georgian mahogany furniture. Lamp bases made from quaint Spanish or Italian pottery or from green Persian jars look well in more informal interiors. A lamp with a brass base will suit oak furniture. The little Watteau shepherdess figures in delicate porcelain-like Sèvres with delicate shades are of course suited to the boudoir or on the bedside table of a very feminine room.”

Good interior decoration, he reminds us, does not necessarily mean complete harmony in the sense of complete “sameness.” Often it means clever contrast in form or color. Some of the floor and table lamps combine excellently with antique furniture of simple lines, and often provide the unusual or decorative note which is needed to enhance sombre woods and fabrics.

From the Home Factory

FOR those who take a peculiar joy in the work of their hands, opportunity is afforded in the making of attractive lamp shades. Some of the new shades are quite easily made. I saw one the other day in the process of manufacture. It was of parchment, shaped like a cone, and laced together with black silk cordinet. The parchment was cut in a circular shape and fitted to the frame. Holes were punched down the side and across the bottom. The lacing was done with a long needle over and over, the bottom part being laced to the frame. It made a quaint and most attractive shade. Sometimes the frames are made of round parchment with a flat top laced on. The idea of hiding the source of light is the purpose of many of the shades. Silk braid of a contrasting color is sometimes used for lacing, or gold cord which makes an effective finish. Some of the shades for wall lights are of the shield type with

flaring concave panels which diffuse the light. These may be laced together or bound in passe-partout.

I had never realized how very beautiful parchment shades could be until I saw some that an artist had painted for his house. Those for his own room were painted in geometrical designs with vivid colors. The key color in the living room was yellow, and he had painted four parchment shades in variations of this color; when lighted they seemed to bring every phase of sunshine into the room.

In the purchase of lamps as in that of

/^\NE of the illustrations used with this article sho.vs a lampshade that is a bit unusual. A lady of my acquaintance had taken an electric lamp to her summerhouse, and shortly after her arrival had the misfortune to break the shade. As it was not possible for her to reach the shops for s. me time, she looked about among her possessions for something that coula be utilized as a shade in the meanwhile, and found an old Japanese parasol. With its top sawn off, the pleated portion fitted admirably over the frame, and was pasted together at the

any other permanent possession, one should select those which will be desirable after the present vogue no longer obtains; and for this reason it is good practice to avoid extremes of design. Something plain and fine will be in the mode now, and will also be in good taste when the fashions change. Occasionally one feels disposed to purchase some small example of the extreme in modernism as a novelty, and for this purpose there are some most amusing lamps suitable for bedside use. One such is an arrangement of four balls on a flat ebony base. These balls are placed one above the other in an uneven line just as though they had been caught in this fashion by a conjuror, and each of them forms a glowing patch of light. In another the light is diffused by opaque glass made to represent the crossed sails of a ship. This type of accessory, however, may be regarded in the light of a novelty, and is not recommended as a permanent possession.

side. Such parasols are quite inexpensive and make unusual and charming shades, from the standpoint of both color and design.

Designers of the modern lamps tell us that in the near future lamps will be a thing of the past. Rooms will be bathed in light without any indication of its source. Concealed lighting is the aim, and this will be achieved by means of what is known as “strip-lighting” with reflectors which will be hidden in various parts of the wall. This sounds efficient but cold, for what is nicer on a chilly evening than to find a comfortable chair, a table beside it with a few books, and a bowl of flowers, and the soft glow of a lamp over all.

As with the twentieth-century furniture, the new lighting is still in its infancy, but more than any of the modern furnishings it has caught the popular fancy, perhaps because there is something mysterious about it.