Multiple Choice - Lighting Finishes and Trends

Many of the design trends leading today’s lighting intros remain focused on delivering a relaxed sense of home, alongside the functionality needed. And then there’s glam.

By Diane Falvey
11/10/2021
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Living room.

Walk into any lighting showroom and you’ll see a plethora of finishes, styles and technologies. While lighting still has its foundation in functionality, the visual elements of everything from a table lamp to an opulent chandelier are now also designed to create artistic focal points for the design-centric consumer. Lighting is far more than a bulb and a shade, although shades have their continual place in the design spectrum.

Over the past several years, finishes on lighting pieces have warmed up, dominated by gold tones and matte black. Glass globes have gone smoky and/or seeded in some cases, and natural materials, such as rattan, abaca and more, are gracing everything from lamp stems to fixture shades. Much like trending color palettes, a level of sophisticated comfort has been driving lighting style.

So what lighting fashion can we expect in 2022? More of the same, according to lighting suppliers. Black and gold finishes aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, and natural materials will stay on trend as consumers continue to look for ways to bring the outdoors in. That doesn’t mean there won’t be evolution in those finishes, however.

Gold finishes continue to warm up, having gone from bright to soft to antique, covering all of the brass tones, says Ron Henderson, President and CEO of Varaluz. “Those tones will continue for another couple of years,” he adds, noting that even silvers in the Varaluz lineup are touched with a yellow tint to warm them up. The lighting company is also introducing some twists to its black finishes. While matte black will remain a dominant lighting finish, Varaluz is adding some shine. “We’ll have more ebonies with a mix of sheens on the same fixture,” Henderson notes. “It will add some life and difference without leaving that color space. Black can bridge an amazing number of design styles.”

“We see black and gold on trend,” says Colleen Visage, Vice President of Product Development for Progress Lighting. She adds that silver continues to be a classic for Progress, and there will be some juxtaposition in lighting fixtures in the coming years as lightened and white hues are beginning to trend more on fixtures as well.

Color Contrast

“White and neutrals are incoming as consumers look to a lighter, relaxed interior,” Visage continues. Look for whitewashed rattan, bleached oak and cottage white on some of the company’s latest introductions.

Varaluz’s Henderson agrees that whites, along with off-whites, depicting shabby chic and coastal styles will be trending for 2022. Coastal applications aren’t just for those by the sea, he says. Anywhere there’s a body of water — lakes, rivers, streams — consumers are craving that coastal vibe.

Beyond white and black, Varaluz is also bringing more color back into the lighting spectrum for 2022. “As we come out of the pandemic, people want to be happy. They want something that’s going to make them smile. One of the things we have control over is what’s around us.” On collections such as Urchin and Posh, Varaluz is applying creamy colors such as oranges, grays and blues, “in a throwback to 1960s automotive colors,” says Henderson. “They’re not metallic, but not a flat matte finish either. They are a creamier take, somewhere between pastels and brights. They add a touch of whimsy.”

Color is making a return, as seen on St. Barts Blue Chandelier.
Color is making a return, as pictured here on Currey & Company's Barts Blue Chandelier.

Shade for All

While the light bulbs and elements might constitute the functional layer of lighting, the surrounding materials are what makes them unique, and there’s no shortage of variation in that realm of the lighting fixture either.

As with natural materials on lighting fixtures that represent an artisan touch, glass bulb surrounds are taking a turn toward a handspun aesthetic as well. “Artisanal glass, added textures such as seeded and chiseled, and imperfections such as in recycled glass are returning and will remain trend forward,” suggests Progress Lighting’s Visage. However, she added, clear glass is and will continue to remain a classic.

“There’s a little more activity as far as art glass and opaque glass,” adds Henderson. Clear glass is still on trend, he says, and the consumer also has a continuing affection for fabric shades on more than just lamps. “People are comfortable with the chandelier form,” he continues. “There’s a push toward the expected chandelier shape, but the materials now vary. With fabric shades on chandeliers, people are taking more liberties with the shades to accessorize those pieces.”

According to Visage, chandelier shades are a classic way to “customize and even create a seasonal refresh to chandeliers or candle-style wall sconces.” She adds, “Relaxed fabrics and modern shade silhouettes remain on trend.”

Overarching Trends

Lighting trends, as in so much of the home furnishings industry, rely on consumer preferences, and those can be diverse, affecting trending design styles.

“What we’re seeing across market sectors is the demand for modern, powerful design concepts,” says Kate Feather, Director of Design at Arteriors. “Our Fall 2021 collection highlights internationally inspired design, featuring materials ranging from glamorous metallic finishes to natural elements such as coconut shell, abaca or rattan.”

At Progress Lighting, “Industrial Lux is incoming and New Traditional remains important as a clean-lined timeless statement,” Visage notes.

While in one camp, there’s a lean toward natural materials, subtle finishes and a relaxed, comfortable look, glamour in lighting finishes remains strong, as lighting is often referred to as the jewelry for the home.

“Glam will be continuing for the next few years,” Henderson says. It’s been a strong category for Varaluz since it was introduced when Henderson realized he could design the crystal for the fixtures to make them more interesting and unique. Now about 60 percent of the company’s Dallas Market Center showroom is dedicated to crystal fixtures, he notes.

Whatever finishes and styles clients and customers trend toward, Henderson warns, make sure they understand the lighting element and how that reflects off the finishes. As LED bulbs and elements continue to make inroads because of their versatility and endurance, it’s important to understand how color and strength will affect lighting finishes as well as the surrounding space. “Choose your blacks wisely if you are using LED,” he says as an example. “They can affect the appearance of your fixture.” As such, Varaluz stays to warm black and true black finishes.

There’s a lighting style solution for every lighting customer or client, with the trends, materials and finishes here leading the charge.

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