Thursday, February 3, 2011

There is a Light that Never Goes Out...1980's Lighting Styles

We recently discovered Mirror 80, a design blog that provides great commentary on 1980's interior design. Mirror 80 is the endeavor of Kate Simmons, who draws on a lifetime love of '80s style. Spotlighting various 1980's aesthetics like Floral designs, Southwestern motifs, Art Deco ceramics, and the Memphis Design Group, Kate has created some wonderful posts about how these dynamic styles appeared in 1980's pop culture and how they have echoed through the past 30 years. After connecting with Kate over the past couple of months, we have invited her to write a guest blog for The 80s Gallery. Selecting the unique and broad applications of 1980's Lighting we proudly turn you on to Kate Simmons and Mirror 80.

Electrifying Eighties Lighting

The phrase “80s lighting” may conjure images of brass and etched glass chandeliers, oversized track lighting and strips of dressing room-style bulbs over bathroom mirrors. But dismissing an entire decade of lighting due to a few repetitive choices would be ignoring years of truly interesting pieces. What about geometric flair, nods to design movements such as Art Deco, and statement pieces that mix art with functionality?

Lamps and lighting fixtures from the 1980s can add modern flourishes to a space—pieces from this decade mix well with industrial, mid-century modern and other contemporary eclectic styles, adding a dash of fun and intrigue without committing the entire room to an 80s flashback!

As you hunt for luminous treasures, keep an eye out for:

Pendant Fixtures

80s pendant lighting fixtures were crafted from a variety of materials, including metal and glass. Many pieces from this decade were round or conical in shape, directing the light downward to illuminate functional spaces like kitchen and dining areas.

The metallic fixtures below serve as modern focal points:

Image from The Decorating Book by Mary Gilliatt, an amazing interior design resource written and published in the 80s! Available at Amazon

Pendant factory lighting gives this kitchen an industrial feel:
Image from The Decorating Book by Mary Gilliatt

Rounded Lamps

From wall lights to floor lamps, spherical shapes abounded in the 1980s. The good news: the geometric simplicity of these lights makes them timelessly modern.

A globe-like table lamp in a metal stand makes a sleek, contemporary statement:

Image from The Decorating Book by Mary Gilliatt

A spherical floor lamp sends light upward, spotlighting the collectibles on display:

Image from The Decorating Book by Mary Gilliatt

From sphere to egg—glowing table lamps add a mysterious quality to this 80s-modern living room in a still from Todd Haynes’ film Safe, set in the 1987 suburbs of the San Fernando Valley:

Deco-Style Lighting

Many arenas of 80s style took inspiration from the Art Deco movement of the 20s and 30s. From graphic design to furniture design, hints of Deco glamour emerged. Lighting of the 1980s featured Deco elements, from fan motifs on sconces to sweeping curves on pottery-based lamps.

In fact, affordable 80s ceramic Deco-style lamps are currently a staple at Goodwill stores. Mauve and country blue are popular colors, but if they’re not your cup of tea, keep your eyes peeled for interesting finds in black, white and peach. Some may even feature Lucite bases!

An 80s Deco ceramic lamp reinforces the peach and mint green bedroom color scheme in this still from Todd Haynes’ film Safe:

This Empire State Lamp honors the streamlined magnificence of Art Deco architecture:

1980's Empire State Building Lamp at The 80s Gallery

Neon Lighting

Neon lighting is unmistakably 80s. You may be hard-pressed to find neon in today’s spaces unless featured on a bar sign, which makes a well-incorporated neon piece a true gem.

Ceiling-mounted neon tubing adds modern ambiance:

Image from The Decorating Book by Mary Gilliatt

This pink neon splatter triangle wall lamp merges lighting with wall art:
1980's Pink Neon Triangle Wall Lamp at The 80s Gallery

This neon floor lamp sculpture is by Rudi Stern and Dan Chelsea for George Kovacs. Although the piece was designed in the 70s, its geometric form and violet blue neon tubing can add an 80s touch to a room of choice:
Image Courtesy of Austin Modern

Statement Pieces

Then there are those pieces that demand attention in a room, even without the neon glow! Call them conversation starters, showpieces or works of art, these designer finds will easily take center stage in the spaces they inhabit.

This piece by modern lighting pioneer Robert Sonneman has a minimalist, space-age feel (shown in close-up and even closer-up):

1980's Robert Sonneman Lamp for George Kovacs at The 80s Gallery

The Tahiti Lamp, by renowned Memphis Group designer Ettore Sottsass, showcases the clever use of playful geometry and striking color:While some prefer chrome to brass and simple to ornate, a well-designed piece that makes a statement can outshine expectations about what will and won’t work when it comes to 80s lighting. Keep an open mind and let pieces speak for themselves. More importantly, don’t be afraid to let an 80s lamp or fixture take center stage!

After all, the 80s were truly illuminating…Kate Simmons Mirror 80

Thank you Kate for making such a wonderful contribution to The 80s Gallery

Love Living in the 80s