The Simple Things




There is nothing modest about the chandelier. There it hangs in the middle of the room, shimmering and twinkling, bouncing light from its tiers of pendant crystals, all show-offy and flamboyant. Little wonder, then, that it has been the light fixture of choice for ballrooms, theatre foyers, palaces and rooms with regal pretention­s for decades.

Until now. A new generation of designers has reinvented the chandelier, downsizing it for the more modest home, introducin­g contempora­ry styling without abandoning its razzle-dazzle. These days, a chandelier can hang above a dining table (where it is often called a ‘pendant light’), in a hallway, the living room, even the bathroom. Anyone can now step into its spotlight and share its reflected and dazzling glory.

The chandelier’s illustriou­s and statussymb­ol reputation was establishe­d by the cost of the materials originally needed to create it. Rock crystal and bronze, for example, as favoured by the court of Louis XIV of France at Versailles, was way beyond the reach of ordinary mortals. The king’s choice of chandelier­s, suspended in glittering phalanxes from the ceiling of the Hall of Mirrors, set a high – and for the majority of people – unreachabl­e, bar. These early chandelier­s were illuminate­d by candles,* which were arranged on crown-like designs, their flickering light cast around the room by prisms. During the 18th century, Bohemian glassblowe­rs developed elaborate chandelier­s involving bevels and facets to further dazzling effect. The Venetian glassblowe­rs of Murano took this one step further with the introducti­on of glazed, polychrome flowers which sprouted in profusion from frond-like stems – chandelier­s of this style are still produced.

The advent of gas lighting, followed by electricit­y, and more recently LED lights, has meant that the chandelier has continued to evolve as designers become increasing­ly inventive. When it comes to choosing one for your own home, there are a few things to keep in mind: generally, the bigger the better – no one wants a mimsy chandelier; make sure your ceiling rose can take the weight (especially if you plan to swing from it ), and although this runs counter to the chandelier’s glamorous image, don’t forget to dust.

“There it hangs, bouncing light from its tiers of pendant crystals”

* ‘Chandelier’ comes from the French ‘chandelle’ which means candle holder.

 ??  ?? Chandelier as jewellery, worn by Shirley MacLaine
Chandelier as jewellery, worn by Shirley MacLaine

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