The Union Street Kitchen fixture is one of Ben’s personal favorites, and so we’ll let him run with the story from here:
I took inspiration from gasoliers of the latter half of the 19th century to compliment a historically-sensitive renovation of a townhouse in Hudson, NY. The client asked for a piece that felt fresh without combating the historic bones of the home, so I created a piece that feels timeless by harkening to the era of the building’s construction while also restraining the Victorian and Edwardian penchant for hyper-ornamentation.
The gasolier was a type of chandelier that became common in the homes of the wealthy before electricity. It created light by burning coal gas, and the light produced was significantly brighter than candlelight, but the systems were expensive and concentrated in urban areas.
Gasoliers were one of the most expensive forms of lighting in the 19th century, and are identifiable by the regulator valves on or near the gas jets, as well as by shades that always point upwards. Downward facing lighting, interestingly, wouldn’t appear until the age of the electric lightbulb in the early 20th century.
The client and I flipped through old 19th century lighting catalogs in our workshop until we found a few that excited both of us as references. Then, using those gasoliers as the starting point, I designed a fixture for the kitchen that is clean and direct. The ornamentation is reserved, and only serves to punctuate the design’s form, calling back to the inspiration.
I was so excited to see how the fixture fit elegantly into the kitchen. The scale was just right for the tall ceilings! We also provided the hardware for the cabinets, which guaranteed that the material pallet was cohesive.
I recommend a fixture of this sort in any space that has suffered from over-zealous renovation in the past and where a bit of character and historicity is desired to re-root the home. A fixture with an antique inspiration, but streamlined and contemporary form, is also a great option for a new build that a client doesn’t want to feel fresh out of the box. By combining old with new, you get to feel grounded without being stuck in the past.
About Behind the Light:
At Quittner, lighting is our anchor. In our workshop we design, restore, and repair lighting, and in our store, the Quittner Warehouse, we sell lighting ranging from our own small surface lamps and porcelain collection through to restored antique fixtures. Some of our favorite projects are custom one-of-a-kind fixtures, so in the “Behind the Light” series we’ll give you a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into designing and delivering a custom fixture. And if you’re inspired by this to change up your lighting, send us an email. We’re always interested in exploring new projects.
Images by Gavin Preuss