A Brief History of Art Deco Chandeliers


Art Deco is certainly a style on its own, one that stands out among the various styles of the twentieth century and one that persists as a viable decor option even today.

In the same way, chandeliers are a decor and design item all to themselves. Any home can certainly have perfectly adequate and even beautiful lighting without one, but a chandelier brings a unique touch of style to a room, anchoring its decor in a way no other item can.

From simple to ornate...

When they made their appearance in medieval times, chandeliers were simple wooden crosses to which candles could be affixed and which could be transported from room to room.

Over time and as artisans developed new techniques in metal work, glass blowing, crystal cutting, chandeliers became more ornate, larger and more intricate. Of course, this also meant they became more expensive and therefore only afforded by the rich, or appearing in larger churches and cathedrals.

Chandeliers quickly became synonymous with wealth and status, something to aspire to. Stately homes' ceilings would virtually groan under the weight of glass, crystal, metal and candles and later gas-fired and eventually electric chandeliers.

... and back again

Right up until the early twentieth century, this was the status quo... and then came along our favorite decor movement which, naturally, turned everything on its head.

Yes, the ornate and stately chandeliers found new life in Art Deco styles, but simpler, more modern and streamlined designs also made their appearance. Here were chandeliers that could fit into more ordinary homes and lend them a touch of opulence and style without literally taking over the room.

These paved the way for the Mid-century Modern low-hanging single-fitting light fixtures and the enormous variety of home chandeliers we see today. But of course, a special place in our hearts will always belong to these pioneers of design and lighting style.

If you want to add some Art Deco chandelier action to your home, take a few things into consideration.

Size matters

Larger rooms can, of course, accommodate larger chandeliers, but bear in mind the height of the ceiling, not just the floor area. The last thing you want is your guests banging their heads on your lovely lighting.

For a smaller room, consider something like this French Art Deco Modernist Ceiling Light Chandelier, which is gorgeous and true to the style, but won't dangle in your dinner.


Material world

Art Deco is Art Deco is Art Deco, right? Well, no. As with any design movement, there are sub-styles, items that work together and items that clash.

Especially if you're going the whole hog, it pays to pay attention to the materials you're using and trying to work out which work together and which fall flat. By contrast, you may not want to overdo it on one type of material.

For example, if your room is feeling a little heavy on the polished wood items, consider something like this incredible pressed glass chandelier from the Verrerie des Hanots.

Above all, have fun with your Art Deco stylings. The design movement represented a new era in design, a movement away from the past and into the future, so don't be afraid to experiment with it and make it your own.

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  • Matthew Pillet
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