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(Published: 2007-08-10)

One expects fine crystal to glitter brightly, but an interesting counter-trend has been developing in the world of home décor. Today, high fashion chandeliers gleam darkly, in a boldly counterintuitive way. Lamps and chandeliers that are meant to light up the night are now being executed in black as midnight crystal.

The lighting designs are actually very traditional in nature, but they are executed in a starkly modern manner that I would call ‘tradical,’ (a design term coined by the NY Times to capture the “radical nature of the traditional.”) Phillipe Starck can be credited with starting the current dark lighting trend when he designed the Zenith chandelier for Baccarat in 2003.

The 24-light chandelier, decorated with full-lead crystal, was conceived as the centerpiece of Baccarat’s extravagant new boutique in Paris. Starck was given carte blanche to design the luxury mansion that now serves as world headquarters, a retail boutique, a gallery museum, and a restaurant. Handcrafted in France, the Zenith black crystal chandelier retails on the Baccarat website for $71,415.00, plus $145.00 each for the optional black silk hurricane shades.

If you’re on a more modest budget, no need to despair. Schonbek, a lighting company based in Plattsburgh, NY, recently introduced a collection of black crystal chandeliers that capitalize on their heritage of elegant high quality designer lighting. The Hamilton is beautifully faceted and executed in jet-black crystal, and contrasts dramatically with traditional clear crystal chandeliers. The designer, Ellen Schonbek Beer, says that response to the Hamilton has been fabulous. She describes the effect as the opposite of glittering, and notes that it “gleams darkly.” You can add a little drama to your lighting scheme with this chandelier for just under $3,000.00.

If you don’t want to be left in the dark when it comes to this trend, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Williams & Sonoma, West Elm, and Crate and Barrel all offer interesting versions of black lamps and lighting, as well as black glassware. You can add drama to your table with a jet black stemless wine glass or martini glass from Crate and barrel for a mere $2.95 each. Who knows? A walk on the dark side may offer a provocative new perspective to your evening aperitif.

Baccarat's Zenith Chandelier

Crate's stemless wineglass

Robyn Waters is president and founder of RW Trend, LLC. She is the author of The Trendmaster’s Guide: Get a Jump on What Your Customer Wants Next, and The Hummer and the Mini: Navigating the Contradictions of the New Trend Landscape. Learn more about Robyn at All Rights Reserved.

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