Improvised Life » lighting If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Thu, 13 Nov 2014 09:20:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Stylish, Cheap Socket and Shade Lighting Formula Mon, 22 Sep 2014 17:00:12 +0000

After Remodelista touted the virtues of the vin ordinaire hardware store porcelain light socket, we were reminded of the one that ended up on our wall during the Laboratory’s renovation. Overwhelmed by the all the details we needed to get together to make the space livable, we improvised, adorning it with lighting designer David Weeks’ clever, inexpensive Lunette clip-on shade. Et voila! (more…)

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Solar Lanterns Become Wondrous Bubbles Tue, 09 Sep 2014 17:27:10 +0000

Photo by Paul Kozlowski

Sensual wave“, an art installation by French architects Marion Moustey and Alexandre Arcens, gave us ideas for late summer-fall gardens lit with Soji Solar Lantern. Susan Dworski first posted about the wondrous, inexpensive solar shoji lights she festooned her garden with.  “Sensual Wave” takes her idea a step further. (more…)

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In Praise of Shadows and Quiet, Muted Interiors Tue, 22 Jul 2014 20:00:10 +0000

Petra Bindel/

I’ve been yearning for shadows since June 21st when the world took a tumble towards autumn, trailing crayon-bright, midsummer color and loud solstice revels. Parched by the bleached Scandinavian cottages and austere, no-tint white rooms that are everywhere online, I’m craving soothing darkness and a place to sequester in silence. This stark, in-your-face, white duvet bedroom suddenly hurts my eyes…and my soul. I want more yin, less yang.

Seeking solace, I turned to Japan, and a meditative book of essays, In Praise of Shadows,” by novelist Jun’ichiro Tanizaki. He expresses his nostalgia for the shadowy beauty once so characteristic of traditional Japanese houses, now fallen victim to rapid modernization. (more…)

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A HUGE Paper Globe Transforms a Room Mon, 14 Jul 2014 20:05:07 +0000

Gilliam Khaw

Spotted in a house tour at Desire to Inspire: one swell idea. Want to add some moderne architectural interest to a prewar room? Hang a giant Noguchi-esque paper shade.  We’re talking BIG:  36-inch or 42-inch in diameter  We like the Maru white paper lantern available at Shoji Decor.  They also sell single cord lantern kits for hanging them.

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Ceiling Lights Placed Randomly, Like Stars Mon, 09 Jun 2014 17:07:19 +0000


Early on in planning the Laboratory renovation, we started thinking of ceiling lights. Since the ceiling was only eight-feet-high, we were trying everything we could to give the illusion that they were higher, achieved mostly by replacing the squat doors with tall ones that created floor-to-ceiling vertical lines that made the ceilings appear higher. In the end, we chose NOT to put ceiling lights in the main part of the living room, fearing they would draw the eye UP to reveal how low the ceilings were. Instead, we modulate the space with various kinds of lighting.

Recently in our Renovation file/Inspiration (more...)]]> 0 Soften an Angular Modern Space with Rounds Tue, 27 May 2014 17:00:14 +0000

Many modern spaces, including our own Laboratory, suffer from having so many right angles, rectangles, linearity, that they can be a bit harsh. The simple solution is to shake them up with rounds, patterns, art.

We love the solution in this image found at Bohemian Homes: (more…)

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Free DIY Lighting How-tos from Designer Lindsey Adleman Mon, 12 May 2014 17:00:57 +0000

Lindsey Adelman Studio

Over the years, lighting designer par excellence Lindsey Adelman has posted free diy lighting instructions on her website, where she also sells her beautiful, pricey creations. A generous act indeed; Linssey reveals the tools and techniques to many of her designs. Her simple, liberating words: Make your own light.

Experimenting with off-the-shelf parts is how Lindsey got started before designing and manufacturing her custom systems. 

She encourages you to do the same. Recently, Adelman posted a new set of instructions for a Hanging Pendant.


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Noguchi-esque Rice Paper Shade Light Hung LOW Tue, 25 Feb 2014 21:00:14 +0000

On the heels of our post about Noguchi-esque Rice Paper Shade lighting, we spotted this one hung LOW to beautiful effect. It provides a round volume AND casts light where a table light would be.]]> 0
Noguchi-esque Rice Paper Shades Soften Modern Rooms Tue, 18 Feb 2014 18:00:42 +0000

Mikkel Mortensen

A recent house tour in Remodelista showed a cool, minimalist renovation of a 1940’s summer cottage in Denmark. The hard angles and rectangles so common (and problematic) with a modern aesthetic were softened by huge, translucent paper spheres hung from the ceiling, pioneered by Isamu Noguchi in the 1950’s. They’ve long been a favorite of ours because the are a simple way to add ethereal, sculptural rounds to an angular interior, and because there fine inexpensive knock-offs that will achieve the same look. (more…)

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solar-powered moon lanterns for summer nights Wed, 19 Jun 2013 18:36:08 +0000 lanterns 3 pearlessenceshop

Installing hardwired, outdoor lighting can be a big, expensive, all-too-often unaesthetic hassle, forcing you to put lights where you really don’t want them, and use commercially produced fixtures that are less than enchanting. One elegant, inexpensive solution is solar lanterns.

My favorites are Allsop‘s faux Japanese shoji solar lanterns available in a rainbow of lightweight polyester that mimics silk. Hang them anywhere outdoors where they receive at least 6 hours of sunlight on the small solar cells located on the top. They begin to glow as soon as dusk falls, and continue until around 4:00 am, when they slowly wink out, one by one.

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LED-illuminated tree trunks Tue, 05 Mar 2013 18:15:33 +0000 Marco Stefanneli's log lamps

Since hauling several huge hunks of fallen trees home after Hurricane Sandy, we’ve been attuned to interesting ways of transforming them. We especially love Italian designer Marco Stefanelli‘s idea of illuminating the splits and cracks in the wood with LEDs (he embeds them in resin), and the thinking behind creating his wonderful luminous stools and tables:

 I wanted to take inspiration from the research of natural objects that, in some ways, have reached their final step in the life cycle. They are for example sawmill’s outlets, pieces of urban architecture, logs carried by the river, firewood…

I have tried to give these pieces a second chance, tempting to make the light come out from the material and to amplify the sensorial experience. (more…)

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high-style lamps have dim bulbs (what would calder do?) Wed, 05 Dec 2012 02:41:42 +0000

We’ve long been fans of lighting designer David Weeks beautiful lighting, having been smitten initially with his sculptural Lunette clip-on shades. On December 14th and 15th, Weeks will hold his annual sample sale, where you can buy samples and prototypes of some of his wonderful designs at steep discounts. We won’t be going. We checked out the wattage of the bulbs Weeks’ lights take: max 60 watts for many, and a dim 40 watts for the lovely Shell Sconce, above, as well as the Cement Standing Lamp and potentially-indespensible Pearson clip light,both below.

We don’t understand this dim-bulbism because, (more…)

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the enduring chic of noguchi-esque paper shades Mon, 01 Oct 2012 18:00:26 +0000 chic paper shades

photo: magnus mårding

These recent pictures spotted on Desire to Inspire affirmed the enduring chic of noguchi-esque paper shades, a subject we’ve posted about before since so many true mid-century modern houses relied on them. The formula is simple: (more…)

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instant chic lighting: the lunette shade Wed, 23 May 2012 18:13:43 +0000 David Weeks' Lunette shade on an Atomic 50's base

photo: sally schneider

Good lighting is essential to making any space come alive, ESPECIALLY one suffering from disorder, as ours has during our recent move of lock-stock-and-many barrels. The solution was Lunette, lighting designers David Weeks’ and Lindsey Adelman’s inexpensive clip-on lamp shade we bought and blogged about a couple of years ago, but never had occasion to use. We bought two more in advance of the move and found them a perfect INSTANT solution to bare bulbs and unresolved lighting fixtures. It’s soft form is somehow perfect with our sculptural 50’s Atomic base which has lost its original globe, as well as the inexpensive porcelain pull-chain socket “thrown up” as a temporary placeholder for a sconce. (more…)

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