Innovations in materials and manufacturing have blurred the line between art and function, and nowhere is that more evident than in lighting.
Plastics, composites and natural materials such as wood and glass are bent, cut, molded and melded into striking shapes. When a light source is introduced, the resulting fixtures not only illuminate, they inspire.
Big, bold ceiling pendants are emphatic style setters: Bear Creek Glass' Cloud collection feature clusters of ethereal globes; smartly tailored cylinders printed with fresh new graphics kick up the chic factor at Design Public.
Large statement pieces and bold patterns are everywhere. "We are seeing more color in lamp bases, as well as patterns on the lampshade, or encompassing the lamp as a whole," says Design Public's Ali Beckford.
Pushing the imaginative envelope even further, designer Chris Duffy of Duffy London offers wall-hung light boxes that feature images of chandeliers. Award-winning Patrick Townsend constructs fixtures resembling spacey satellites.
Many designers are also turning to recycled materials: Vitamin Design's Galiano light features reclaimed fir and a wind-downed twig pull. Stray Dog Design offers pieces crafted from reused tin, glass and even cement bags.
Whimsy finds its way into Urban Peel's huggable light pillow, and Design Public's Pet Lamp Dachshund. Bright and Bold's jellyfish floor lamp looks futuristic, even Seussian.
"Our clients have a sense of humor and a desire to put a little fun into their surroundings," says Jane Gray, head designer at Seattle's Stray Dog designs. "Adding a lamp or two with loads of personality is a great way to punch up your interior without spending too much money."