Italy is synonymous with style, passion, gastronomic delicacies and seemingly endless sunshine. As outsiders we are only too willing to believe that its immaculately dressed, easy living inhabitants wear life like a loose-fitting Gucci overcoat. But look beyond their carefree, laidback demeanour and you?ll discover that, actually, they’re profoundly serious about almost everything; their food, fashion (any Italian octogenarian will testify that looking effortlessly cool in a canary-coloured mohair suit is no mean feat) and exquisite architecture, art and design.
One of the country’s many enduring style legacies of which it’s rightly proud, is the transformation of lighting from functional object to art form; a masterpiece of design in harmony with technology and engineering. Nothing represents this more than modern chandelier lighting.
Italy has been lighting the way since the end of World War II, when a series of talented Italian industrial designers, including the Castiglioni brothers, Vico Magistretti, Gino Sarfatti and Pietro Chiesa, funded by small entrepreneurial families, reinvigorated Italian lighting design and started a movement that has made it the most desirable in the world. By rethinking function and restructuring form using new materials and futuristic shapes, they captured the sanguine mood of the nation to produce witty, elegant classics such as the minimalist ?Luminator? (1955), ‘toio? (1962) and Richard Sapper’s ‘tizio? (1972).
Over time, advancements in technology and engineering resulted in increasingly high performance lighting and, with it, the ability to transform the mood of any architectural plan, from warm and cosy to avant-garde and contemporary. Designers now enjoyed the freedom to realise all kinds of new possibilities, and glass lighting in particular was elevated to the rank of ‘sculpture?.
The beating heart of glass lighting design and production was and still is Venice. Home to the much-prized Murano glass industry, named after the islands where it is made, they have been making hand-blown glass for shades and crystal droplets for over 200 years. Indeed, Murano glass chandeliers constitute the pinnacle of Italian glass making with their intense colours, versatile designs and durability. New glass treatments have meant that the designs are also incredibly robust which means they can exist in places where earlier glass designs would have been too fragile.
With designers eager to pursue ever more imaginative and jaw-dropping ways of playing with light and colour, it was only a matter of time until they harnessed the refractive qualities of Swarovski crystal. Daniel Swarovski revolutionised crystal cutting in 1892 to produce a product of unmatched beauty, prized for its versatility, brilliant radiance and vivid colour. Crystal is used in some of the most show-stopping chandelier lighting designs featured in the most exclusive spaces in the world.
Unique, evocative and built to last
While many of the processes are increasingly high-tech, Italian lighting design remains true to its traditional methods of precision handcrafting. The joy of buying and living with bespoke, handcrafted lighting, unlike buying mass produced versions (which are often copies of Italian designs), is that not only are you guaranteed the highest quality and durability, but your fixtures, colours, sizes and finishes are unique. Being handmade to patented designs means that whereas the average size for mass produced fittings is around 300 to 400mm and are limited to just three lamps, your handcrafted products can be made to be 700 to 12000mm wide and hold up to 18 lamps.
Good lighting is known to positively enhance the ambience, appeal and character of any luxury living space, and Italian lighting in particular is renowned for blending functionality with beauty. So whether your home demands vintage glamour or contemporary cool, it’s worth taking the time to source a quality range of designer, handcrafted Italian chandeliers and lights to enhance the look of any room in your home, bar or restaurant.