Old House Journal
The founder began making period lighting fixtures for his own restoration of a Long Island farmhouse.
Michael Krauss and Maria Peragine are the second-generation owners of Authentic Design, makers of early replica lighting, founded in 1966 by Michael’s father, Danny. Today’s showroom and workshop are housed in a restored toothpick factory in rural Vermont. Terne, brass, and shaped-wood fixtures glitter with electric candlelight. “Everything you see is built here,” says Michael.
A talented team handforms or lathe-turns bases, then applies finishes, inserts concealed electrical wiring, and UL-tests each fixture.
Wiring skinny-arm fixtures requires a knack: Wires forced through bent arms are almost impossible to thread once past 360 degrees. “For the most part, we make lighting to order because we have so many models and so many finishes,” Maria says.
Most fixtures are based on historic originals—some brought to them by clients. Authentic Designs keeps “build books” with exploded drawings for each model. Fixtures with wood center bodies are produced, from octagonal wood blocks, on a duplicating lathe that exactly follows the contours of the company’s many pattern blanks. While the duplicating lathe is a timesaver, Krauss says, “functionally, it is pretty much identical to what a 19th-century wood lathe did.”
Alchemy plus artistry produces the beautiful finishes. Some will continue to darken with age. Others can be enhanced with verdigris or other treatments. Painted finishes usually begin with application of paint in a spray booth, followed by brush painting by hand.
Their subtle finishes are best appreciated at the showroom. (800) 844-9416, authenticdesigns.com