more than any other part of a home, light fixtures communicate the style of
the day. Since the advent of electricity, the concept has remained pretty
much the same, but the styles have changed to fit the tastes of the day--
and this was certainly true in the Modern era.
It's a rare
treat to see original light fixtures in a vintage home. Changing fixtures is
one of the easiest DYI projects, so lights are often changed by owners who
want to update the character of their homes. Lots of great old fixtures have
been lost that way. Fortunately for those of us who own modem houses
that have suffered inappropriate updates, today there is a wealth of old
fixtures to be found on eBay.
In 1957 the Soviets rocked the world with the first ever man-made
Earth orbit satellite, Sputnik, and ushered in the Space
Product designers were quick to capitalize on the public's fascination with
space. Among the first popular space age designs was the sputnik light
fixture, which closely mimicked the appearance of its namesake. No
other light fixture represents the era better than this one.
The light bulbs used on Sputniks have a glass covering that gives them the
frosty, spiky look. The bulb underneath is a regular clear candelabra base
Globe lights were far less flamboyant and arguably in better and certainly
more enduring taste. Lights like this have been continuously available since
the early 1950's and look right in any contemporary setting. I
particularly like this one by Prescolite. It has a robust ball joint
at the canopy to allow for angled ceilings, and a metal down tube.
Pendants of more imaginative shape were also very popular. Here are
two different styles by Moe Lighting. They have rather thick glass
with a satin surface. Note the clean sophisticated appearance that
lacks any sort of metal trim or superfluous doo-dads. These are each
individual fixtures, though were often used in multiples.
Pendants with multiple lights were also very common, often with two or
three drops. This particular one from a custom home is cut above the
norm. The glass shades are hand blown and very fancy.
Do you have a home with
an especially interesting light fixture? Contact me. Iíll take a
photo and include it on this page.