A bare light bulb was once a major design crime, but bulbs are the focus of the latest fittings, whether simple white globes, sparkly spots, or curvy strips.
“Squirrel cage bulbs” are the latest fashion. Twisty, coiled filaments are trapped inside clear glass, and shapes include copies of vintage Edison bulbs. They give off an intensely warm, reddish glow, and the light running up and down the intricate filaments is said to have reminded people of squirrels when this type of bulb was invented, around 1900. Modern “squirrels” cost £10-£20 — more for a really big one — but last up to 3,000 hours. There’s a wide selection online. Try www.lyco.co.uk and www.lamps-on-line.com.
Squirrel cage bulbs, although energy guzzlers, are classed as “decorative”, which makes them exempt from energy-saving regulations. However, a new LED energy-saving version costs £8.50 from www.ledhut.co.uk, currently selling bulbs VAT-free.
Lighting costs could make up about 20 per cent of your energy bill, but choosing energy-saving bulbs can be a nightmare, with so many regulations and a lot of jargon. The ban on old-style tungsten bulbs came in gradually between 2009 and last year, and will be extended to halogen bulbs by 2016. But traders can sell old stocks, and tungsten bulbs are still plentiful on the web.
John Cullen Lighting in King’s Road, SW6, has a “lamp bar” to demonstrate different bulb types. Look for lumens on the label. About 1,600 lumens equals a traditional 100 watt bulb; 800 lumens equals 60w and 450 lumens, 40w. Find a handy table at www.thelightbulb.co.uk.
Compact fluorescent bulbs, or CFLs, come in a good range of shapes from around £4, with a strong light output and energy savings of up to 80 per cent compared with tungsten bulbs. They last up to 20,000 hours. Design buffs love the CFL Plumen for its elegant, slim lines, and a new more solid, sculptural version is just in at Heal’s and Habitat for around £20. Visit www.plumen.com.
But light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, are the future, says Nick Smith of www.light-bulbsdirect.com. “They are long-lasting, save up to 90 per cent of energy, and are getting better all the time, with improved light output, and shapes.” Priced from around £6.
Bright ideas from leading lights
“Layer your lighting — let wall, pendant, and floor/table lamps work separately and together,” says Diane Simpson, lighting buyer at John Lewis. Lucio Longoni, Heal’s lighting buyer, advises: “Light what you love. Use uplighters, clamp lamps and picture lights to highlight favourite art, bookshelves, chimney pieces and cornices.”
Ros Humphries, buyer for lighting at Habitat, says: “Dramatic pendants suit high London ceilings, but remember fittings in hallways are seen from above as well as below.”
Sally Storey, a top London lighting designer, and director of John Cullen Lighting, which offers expert advice and lighting seminars, says: “Look on labels for a warm white colour of around 2,700 Kelvins.”
If the bare bulb trend isn't for you, these layered, textured and fabulous print lampshapes will be sure to brighten your home:
Design trends: lighting
Design trends: lighting
Concert, Sound Curtain and Net and Ball lamp shades by Mini Moderns are inspired by Fifties fabric, paper and carpet designs as seen, for example, in the Festival Hall. From Southbank Centre Shops, call 020 7960 5228 or visit www.southbankcentre.co.uk.
2/6 Wood’s good
Tom Raffield, expert in new ways of steam bending wood, crafts shades in various timbers and shapes. This is Butterfly in walnut, to fit existing fittings. Also available in oak. A small shade, 52cm in diameter, costs £326, while a standard shade, 68cm, costs £365. From www.tomraffield.com, or call 01326 722725.
3/6 Sipping Nectar
London-based artist and designer Anna Jacobs has launched her first collection of handmade lamp shades, This is Sipping Nectar, 30cm by 22cm, digitally printed on 100 per cent cotton, at £70. Available for a pendant or a table lamp. See www.annajacobs.london, or call 07813 321 496.
4/6 Casting patterns of leafy loveliness
The Devon floor lamp throws magical leafy patterns on the walls, £120. Also available as a separate shade in black or white, at £45. From www.johnlewis.com.
5/6 Winning combinations
Pooky is a new lighting shop in Chelsea with a brilliantly simple idea — it stocks 90 styles of lamp bases and 150 shades to to mix and match, and provides lots of help and advice on the best combinations. This Bobboli table lamp in blue is £100, with an empire shade in yellow silk ikat at £72. Visit the shop at 25 Chelsea Wharf, 15 Lots Road, SW10, see www.pooky.com or call 020 7351 3003.
6/6 Come to an arrangement
This easy-to-fit shade is called Bouquet, because you can arrange the pretty layers of cut plastic into your own shape, like arranging flowers in a vase. It is designed by Tord Boontje exclusively for Habitat, to celebrate the firm’s 50th birthday. Price is £70. From Habitat stores in W1, SW3, and NW3, or see www.habitat.co.uk.