My early experiences as a child visiting another country have been those of facile amazement and suffused with wonder.
One such vivid memory that will remain etched forever involves a trip to the palace of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Fortunately this was a time when my Pa was spearheading a bevy of construction projects for him which automatically entitled me as a 9 year old to tag along and visit the horse stables, the gardens and..and ‘The’ Palace!!
My initial reactions of awe gave way to amazement. Of course it needs no introduction as to how opulent the Arabs are in their ways of living. Ginormous dome shaped foyers, landings the size of Victorian balconies, Moroccan influences and their fascination for all things ‘Gold’. However what took the cake was the life-sized chandelier strategically hung right in the center of the entrance foyer. Over two storeys tall, the only light in the room seemed to be coming from this huge installation.
This was when the love for crystals (before Swarovski became a staple for crystals) immediately translated to having one prized possession of a chandelier in the house.
The last I heard from a friend who visited the palace was that the chandelier had been removed and was thus replaced by concealed lighting that seemed to permeate out of corners – obscure yet effective.
The era of ‘contemporary’ lighting had dawned upon the Arabs as much as the rest of the world!
Striking a balance between art deco and the concepts of minimalism, contemporary lighting as a whole come across the blend that manages to touch the chords that go in sync with human moods. Some used to create an ambience, some to alter the mood and some heavily derived from cultures across the world.
These are the kind of illuminations that are generic to many forms of art yet at the same time has an individualistic character of their own. Conveniently managing to blend itself with Cubism, Purism, Viennese Secession, Nouveau and various other forms of architecture; modern lighting has had home and commercial space owners lining up for the classic Pablo Pardo ‘Piccola’ desk lamp or even something as basic as a Phillips LED lamp that can transform spaces in no time.
Call it the era of the sleek, the straight or the concealed; the fact remains that contemporary lighting takes Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and his likes to a different plane of execution altogether.
My knowledge on architecture and design at times decapitates me when someone asks for elaborations on arcs, parabolas, tracks, sunbursts, curves and what’s organic and what’s not! However one thing I know for sure; these perfect compositions of finesse, structural balance, integrity and aesthetic sense – I certainly like.
..and though a very very over exaggerated statement this is – “I’d rather go for the Piccola than a Tiffany right now!!”