“Chandeliers are marvels of drop-dead showiness, the jewellery of architecture.” – Peter York
Beginning in the 14th century, they were two pieces of wood forming a cross as candle holders. By the 16th and 17th century, chandeliers were turned into luxurious items owned by the wealthy. These fancy light fixtures associated with opulence, usually adorned the palaces and manors of the elite. Traditional chandeliers were characterized by intricate designs, crystal embellishments, and many candles or gaslights, which provided a warm ambience. This symbol of status became its own art form as materials and production techniques improved over time.
Rightly called the jewellery of architecture, the chandelier is without a doubt one of the most popular decorative objects of the past. These architectural masterpieces have a rich history that dates back centuries owing to modern evolution in material and design.
Giving a new definition to lighting and the importance of these artistic pieces Sunit Kohli, Interior Designer and President K2India told LuxeBook, “Lightning plays a very important part of designing any interiors. Decorative lights are like art, or I believe that they should be treated like that.”
Used initially as a means to light up dark spaces in homes, the chandelier has evolved to become more than just a light source. It has become an object of beauty and design. Speaking on the concept of chandeliers, Pranika Kapur Julka, Co-founder of Attico Homes shared, “The word chandelier is a French derivative of chandelle- meaning candle. During that time, chandeliers were an important source of constant light in the room. Later these candle-lit chandeliers evolved into gas lights, which later evolved into electric lights and brought in the modernization of this beautiful design element.”
In the modern era, chandeliers have undergone a remarkable transformation. “Drawing inspiration from architectural elements, nature’s beauty, and innovative technology, modern chandeliers now embrace minimalistic forms, avant-garde materials, and dynamic lighting systems. This evolution has revolutionized the concept of illumination,” Nikunj Shah, Promoter, Sources Unlimited told LuxeBook.
The evolution of the chandelier
The history of this iconic design element began as humble candle holders, which were first used by the Romans. These candleholders had candles placed at various heights and were designed to be mounted on walls or ceilings to illuminate spaces with high ceilings and often caves. As time went by, people became more interested in owning chandeliers – which have gone from being made of candles to being lit by gas or electricity, and are now even available in a variety of designs, including nature-inspired organic lighting.
In the past, candles or oil lamps were used during celebrations, like weddings, to provide light for guests and family members who attended these events at night. Simple in design and functional at its core, soon enough people were captivated by the charm and majestic aura of the iconic chandelier. Brass structures were used to hold candle-forming chandeliers, and soon after crystals were introduced to the design in the 17th century and in the 18th century baroque and rococo styles emerged. Symbolizing Rococo style symbolizes swirls, leaves, flowers, garlands, cupids, and other details, often cast in bronze. By now chandeliers were used by individuals to show off prosperity with fancy decorations.
The electric light bulb started lighting the world in 1879, ushering in a sea change to how chandeliers looked. With electricity emerging in the 1890s, occasionally you could find a chandelier that ran off a combination of gas and electricity. Artists in this period looked at completely new design ideas from nature instead of bygone eras. From around 1900 to modern times, electric was the main mode of function for all chandelier lighting. Today, chandeliers have gone way past their design allure to become more modern in design and technology to meet the various needs of modern society even introducing smart chandeliers.
A transformation with modernity
“From its humble beginnings as a source of ambient light to becoming an awe-inspiring centerpiece, the evolution of the chandelier has been a captivating journey,” said Jiri Krisica, Head of Design, Sans Souci. As gas lighting caught on during the mid-19th century, more complex and elaborate chandeliers continued to be developed throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, but the widespread introduction of gas and electricity devalued the chandelier’s appeal as a status symbol. Furthermore, toward the end of the 20th century, chandeliers were utilized as focal points in rooms instead of solely for illumination.
Fast forward to modern day, we see the design of chandeliers has transformed. But that isn’t to say that creative individuals haven’t taken their own twist on chandeliers. They’ve modernized it in unimaginable ways and modern chandeliers design show that this art form is so much more than a lighting appliance. At Sans Souci, Jiri shared that the idea behind this transformation arose from their desire to elevate spaces with exquisite craftsmanship and artistic expression. “We drew inspiration from homeowners’ evolving needs and desires, pushing the boundaries of design possibilities. Blending contemporary aesthetics with traditional techniques, we experimented with unconventional materials like hand-blown glass and incorporated innovative technologies for enhanced lighting effects.”
Now found in most homes and in many different styles, chandeliers are typically hung in the living room, dining room, lobby areas, offices and even bathrooms. Used to provide light as well as to create a dramatic focal point, chandeliers are available in materials such as crystal, metal, and glass. For example, Sans Souci has introduced awe-inspiring new designs that merge tradition with contemporary art decor. From daring geometric shapes to utilizing metal, acrylic, and sustainable elements to create captivating compositions and cascading clusters of glass orbs.
The lighting source has swapped candles for LED light bulbs, new designs have led to modern models, and there are ranges of sizes. From Art Deco-inspired ones to smart chandeliers and even timeless creations. But the opulence of chandeliers with glistening crystals is hard to match.
From the evolution of chandeliers with wood to wrought iron, crystals and cut glass. Nowadays, rustic chandeliers and modern chandeliers can be created with any material with the right craftsperson directing the design. Speaking about the innovations in design Sunit Kohli believes, “People are moving from a single typical hanging light to more decorative hanging lights which are either hung in multiples or as installations be they in cloth, paper, blown glass or and ceramic. Typical crystal chandeliers have also taken a new avatar of being in colour and with shades of them in cloth.”
Wrought iron chandeliers rustically crafted with elegant swirls and loops give off just as much class as a crystal or metal design. As we approach modern times, metal is slowly overpowering the design world, home accessories and lighting. An ornate silver chandelier, or even a perfectly polished aluminium or copper one, looks especially great due to the light that reflects off the metal.
Chandeliers found in the world today range from metal ones to abstract, modern chandeliers have had lightbulbs and even lampshade chandeliers to name a few. As per Julka, the key change in chandeliers today is in the design; the latest chandelier designs are the ones that are suspended from the ceiling rather than being close to the surface like in the earlier times. Today, we are using unique, artistic, and fun elements in the chandeliers which add to the space’s design story and are modern art pieces. Anything can be treated as a chandelier, provided with an adequate light source, for example, a cloth with light bulbs, a bark of a tree used as an installation, or any installation or wall art with an adequate light source. From metal to brass to crystals, the variety and elements used in chandeliers are endless today, which gives us designers multiple and exquisite options to choose from,” points out Julka.
However, to date, chandeliers are synonymous with luxury and status and are used as finer, more decorative silhouettes.
Technology inspired chandeliers
While the change hasn’t come only in the design and materials used to create chandeliers but also in the technology. Chandeliers can be controlled simply by the click of a button, from your smartphone and can even be adjusted for ambient lighting and the amount of light with dimmer sensors. “Thanks to the massive growth in the technology sector, we can set as many moods in lighting as we like just at the click of a button on our smart gadget,” states Julka. Throwing light on some of the new technologies found in the market, she highlights that chandeliers can be synchronized to your automation system and work on remote smart gadgets integrated with your home automation system. New LED bulbs have been introduced which consume less electricity and are energy efficient, keeping our surroundings eco-friendly. Additionally, dimmers and sensors are a part of the lighting industry and today, chandeliers are well integrated with this technology further adding to the aesthetics and beauty of the design.
Adding to the technological advancements, Jiri says, “With advancements in LED technology, we have integrated energy-efficient lighting systems into our designs, allowing for customizable brightness and colour temperature options. This not only enhances the visual impact but also promotes sustainability. We work with handblown crystal, Bohemian glass, fused and slump glass as well as different materials such as metal. The combination of state-of-the-art technology, exquisite craftsmanship, and unique materials results in a truly unique chandelier, creating a transformative and enchanting ambience in any space.”
But technology isn’t the only thing inspiring new designs. Materials like glass, metal, and crystal have been reimagined with a contemporary twist, resulting in mesmerizing textures, organic shapes, and a captivating play of light. Furthermore, Shah throws light on sustainable practices that have inspired designers to explore eco-friendly options such as recycled materials and energy-efficient components, highlighting the importance of environmentally conscious designs. “The marriage of technology and materials in modern chandeliers brings forth a harmonious symphony of functionality, aesthetics, and sustainability, illuminating homes with a touch of brilliance and conscious thinking.”
A resisting charm
These days, chandelier designs can incorporate hints of the past or go off in a completely new direction. Today the chandelier market has room for a little bit of everything: Rococo ornateness, Neoclassical simplicity, Tiffany beauty, contemporary intrigue and so much more. The lighting standout that dates all the way back to when humans lived in caves, chandeliers are the perfect finishing touch in an interior space.