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Portable Lighting Report: An Opportunity for Personal Expression

Within the portable lighting segment, personal expression has moved to the forefront in a sophisticated way.

By Gianna Annunzio
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Lamp shades.

With today’s consumers having myriad lighting options to choose from, they’ve begun gravitating toward more refined styles and aesthetics.

Within the portable lighting segment, personal expression has taken the forefront in a sophisticated way. To put it plainly, people enjoy beautiful pieces. They want materials that work well within the spaces they have, but with a fresh new take. 

“What we are seeing in the portable lighting segment is much the same as our other categories…lots of natural materials, light and neutral finishes, with lots and lots of texture,” says Tom Caldwell,  VP Product Development at Currey & Company. “We’re seeing lamp bases made in stone, wood, metal, glass, ceramics and inlaid materials such as bone, horn and shells.” Although there are many styles represented in the offerings, companies are also seeing a slant in style leaning toward a more casual, yet sophisticated look.

“We are also seeing a lot of desire for well-designed and well-made task lighting,” Caldwell says. “Customers seem to be using a lot more floor lamps these days as they are practical and do not require a surface or a lot of space. We see this trending across all styles, materials and functions.”

When it comes to finishes, Emma Lowrey, VP of Product Development at Elk Home, says she sees portable finishes becoming much more clean. Brass is still a very strong option, but now with a more true, raw finish that comes to life within a space.

“Similarly, finishes on ceramic that provide that two-tone look are popular along with a slightly shinier finish against that raw base,” she says. “We also see a lot of plaster white starting to trend up nicely for us, as well as some textured finishes that really give that impression of a hand forged look, or speak to that craftsmanship.”

Currey & Company is also seeing finishes like antique brass, bronzes and old-world type finishes coming into play. Lighter tones of granite alongside white marbles and alabaster are also trending.

“Ceramics are all over the spectrum, but we continue to do very well with warm neutrals and softer earth tone colors,” says Caldwell. “With that said, we also have some traditional blue and white porcelains, as well as traditional Asian-influenced ceramics in dark greens and reactive glazes that do very well.”

Finishes that speak to nature also continue to be on trend, mixingnatural materials and calming outdoor hues including warm browns and vegital greens.

“Trends are still playing into Biophilia, like wood grains,” Lowrey says. “If a fixture is wood we want to see the grain. But these don’t have to be limited to materials like wood or rattan — we’re also seeing a lot of natural marble and travertine. People are looking for this material in its raw form though, not polished and shiny.”

Kate Feather, Design Director at Arteriors, says brass is a popular option. The company is also seeing positive responses to sculptural forms — bold and geometric or flowing forms — in whites or neutrals.

“A recent trend we are really leaning into is excitement around naturals as color,” Feather says. “This is so thrilling for us as we have plenty to offer —  overscaled textures on sculptural bodies like the Horatio Floor Lamp or woven chestnut leather on the Ropata Lamp.”

Currey also continues to do well with its neutral and earthtone ceramic lamps. Caldwell sees some hues moving toward warmer tones in these earthy colors.

“Greens are becoming softer and more natural and stone colors in pinks, browns and grays are becoming less stark and softer,” he says. “Peachy sand colors, warm vibrant browns and herbal greens are also trending.”

Lowrey says this season Elk had “a lot of fun” with the shades, as the company looked for something new to do that was trend-forward. Although natural materials are on-trend, the group used less burlap and linen since they’ve already used it in past lines.

“Instead, we did rattan wraps or natural cord wraps that can go into more casual lifestyles,” Lowrey says. “We also did it in white which works in more coastal spaces. It’s just a different way to bring in those natural materials and appeal to what makes people feel better in their homes. We also played with the juxtaposition between ceramic bodies paired with those shades. That was fun and felt fresh.”

She’s also seeing a lot of outdoor colors trending as well, like calm blues.

“People also really go toward green, but still within a landscape palette,” she says. “Soothing colors like uneven earth tones, alongside those neutrals, are resonating. For us at the moment whether it’s a tan or like a camel, lots of warm browns and even warm woods and things like that are popping up.”

Shade colors typically range from stark white to the darker natural fiber colors, as well as dyed and bleached materials.

“We’re seeing these heavier textured shades being used on a wide variety of lamp bases ranging from metal to wood and ceramic,” says Caldwell. “A contrast between the shade and lamp base color is popular and makes for a more dramatic overall look of the complete lamp.”

Currey’s accent shade program also offers design-oriented customers an added touch of boldness, pattern and color that they might require in an accent lighting piece.

“We offer an array of colors and patterns which we hope will fit our customers needs and add that little bit of pizazz to the interior space,” he says. “Statement shades are definitely back in style.

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