11 statement lampshades crafted by India’s best interior designers
Sussanne Khan, Ashiesh Shah, Vivek Sahni and other top designers take part in 'The Lampshade Project', an AD exclusive
The Lampshade Project called on members of the design fraternity, each with a distinct style of their own, to reimagine the old world grandma lamp in their specific sensibility and update its image. From a Chanel tweed coat to Goan roofs or a complete distortion, the reinterpretations were wide ranging and wholly unexpected. As ideas go, this one proved to be an enlightening one for us and the posse of illustrious designers who rallied enthusiastically with creations that flirted brazenly with innovation, gave predictability a wide berth.Lekha Washington designs a lampshade for AD
“The first image that came to my mind on hearing the brief was my grandmother’s library—dimly lit, warmly intimate and reminiscent of my childhood,” says the master embroiderer, whose atelier counts Chanel among its clients. “I didn’t want anything too formal and stiff and glamorous.” The Chanel tweed coat was the starting point for this shade, made with twisted silk, metallic thread and chenille, among other materials—”All the elements normally associated with fashion embroidery. The idea was to recreate our version of tweed on a lampshade, where the light can come through sometimes fully, sometimes partly. And when you look at it, you can imagine a city, imagine a jacket.”
Lamp base: ‘Cybill’ (mulberry, Iqrup + Ritz).
The archway has always fascinated Shah—enough to sneak through in all his projects, as it does here. The traditional form of the lampshade was deconstructed—and how. A free-standing archway houses the light in lieu of the “generic fringed hat”. Moulded out of plaster-of-Paris, the archway gets a coat of epoxy, and the floor-standing structure “mimicks a grandmother’s protruding belly”. Some serious transformation, that.
It looks and acts like a miniature , calibrating, regulating and ltering the light just so—not too bright and not too dim. And true to [Arora’s and the Mangrove Collective’s] philosophy, they focused more on process than form. “It helped that the form was defined,” says Arora. They went about manifesting the form with a lightweight mild-steel frame “expressed by the handwoven black cane”. Just like that, the got a contemporary makeover.
Cast iron, raw silk and fringe combine to boldly channel a seriously gothic vibe. When Sahni thought about reworking the traditional lampshade, 1930s Berlin—as described by writer Christopher Isherwood in The Berlin Stories—was top of mind. “Something decadent and stylish, with fringe, rock crystal and colour—what I ended up with was something quite contemporary, slightly gothic and minimalist.” For Sahni, who is “obsessed with lamps”, the project proved an exciting one.
The conical shape, shingle-like slabs and ubiquitous terracotta—it’s the quintessential Goan roof; only this time it’s perched atop a light. Mody chose to harness tradition rather unusually, staying away from “rippled fabric pleats that made the elegant silhouette so mundane”, but retaining the conical shape. “We used at-rolled terrace sheets, cut them, textured them and stuck them to one another, layer upon layer, to create the heaviest lampshade there is!”
It is as much installation as light, as much about function as artistry. Khan’s creation takes on epic proportions—literally and metaphorically. “We wanted to bring in the formalness of a ‘cuff sleeve’ for the form, and the wildness of a warrior who may have existed in a mythical world,” says Khan. Naturally, she named it after Achilles, the strongest of them all, and crafted it in the neoclassical style. She also used leather she bought in the UK. “We already had our warrior. I thought we needed his skins!”
It’s the small things that make a big difference—like the seemingly everyday lampshade that the Puducherry-based Courtin transformed into leather-wearing cool. “I wanted to retain the essence of a traditional lampshade, but modernise it to make it relevant today,” says Courtin, who works with leather for several luxury fashion houses, including Loewe. And leather proved to be the way to do it in this case too. “We used an acrylic sheet and white cotton fabric to cover the shade, and then decorated it with calf leather laces using the cannage technique, which is one of our specialities.” It’s versatile too—and can either be used with a lamp base or hung from the ceiling.
Lamp base: ‘Criss Cross’ tripod stand, Cottons & Satins
It isn’t often that one sees a light source double as a lampshade. “I played with the silhouette of the lampshade,” says the designer, who found the project to be an interesting tightrope walk between the traditional and the cutting edge. It was also an extension of a new technique she has been playing with—”twisted, lit tubular forms of light”. Stainless steel and LEDs combine to give it a marble-like texture, but what stays with you is the “elegance of soft light meeting clean lines”.
Gautam Seth and Prateek Jain
Glass and the almost effortless ability to mould it to their direction is clearly Klove’s thing, if their sculptural installations are anything to go by. So much so that Seth and Jain even put it to use as a lampshade— “where it is normally not used”, in Jain’s words. The inspiration was a forest of pine trees. “The shade forms a canopy in ribbed glass, which casts shadows like the rays of sunlight in a forest,” says Jain.
This safa-style lampshade doesn’t even skirt the lines of predictability. “I wanted to design something that would spell sophistication and whimsy and be intrinsic to who I am,” says Singh, who worked with New Delhi-based Formus for this project. Made with voile (fabric traditionally used for turbans), it has a jewelled ornament and a base in white acrylic and brushed brass. “I’m not a lighting designer, but I’m up for any challenge that pushes my buttons; this one did.”
Imagine a lampshade that does the work of a dimmer—only better-looking. “You can dim a lamp by decreasing the intensity of light, but what if you could adjust the lampshade to reduce or increase the light coming through at eye level?” reasoned the designer. “I sourced two perforated metal sheets and adjusted them parallel to each other, until I had the desired effect of light and dark upon manually rotating them. The sheets were then machine-rolled and blackened, to match the bronze base below.” Utilitarian? Sure. Stylish? Undeniably!
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