Evolution of Crystal Chandelier Lighting

Crystal chandeliers establish atmosphere in building interiors. This fact holds true today as it did a thousand years ago. People started ornamenting their light sources with crystals from very early on. Initially, crystals are installed on lighting elements for primarily practical reasons. Crystals possess a high degree of reflection and refraction, which gave them a high optical capability of scattering light to a wider area inside a room. But it did not take long before crystals had evolved into an essential ornamental component–the birth of crystal chandeliers. Each historical era has contributed a unique rationale or perspective behind the design concepts of the crystal chandeliers that we witness today. Chinese culture was perhaps one of the oldest, if not the oldest, in human history. Crystal chandelier designs in this era are classified as “Oriental style.” Original forms of this style of crystal chandeliers can be traced back to the year 1150 A.D., which provided a large intensity of inspiration to European designers. An Oriental style chandelier is characterized by flamboyant built lavished with extravagant fringes.

The Renaissance era contributed the “rebirth” of ancient Roman architectural concepts, which sprouted from Florence in Italy in 1400’s. Notable examples of Renaissance crystal chandeliers can be seen today at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and the Doges’ palace in Venice. Original renaissance-style chandelier designs initiated the use of “crystal candles with replicas of buds and curving arms.”

The year 1600 marked the beginning of the Baroque era. Famous painters that emerged during the Baroque period include Rubens and Rembrandt. Baroque architecture is distinctively expansive, attempting to open up space to infinity. The Baroque designs are derived from the richness that flourished during the Baroque epoch. These expansive ephemeral concepts developed during the Baroque resonate through time and is probably the reason that it still has a commanding influence on modern day designs of crystal chandeliers and lighting fixtures.

The Regency epoch is the name given to a brief period between 1800 and 1830 that witnessed the rise of the Bourgeoisie or the “middle class” in Europe. Regency chandeliers are exhibited in middle-class salons, demonstrating the power of the budding Bourgeoisie class. Regency chandelier designs feature ostentatious and massive, and fragile linear ensembles as well.

The Victorian epoch prospered in England from 1840 to 1870, a period when Europe was engaged in historicism. Victorian crystal chandeliers are characteristically heavy, and have illuminated the most magnificent houses of the world.

Developed in central Europe at the turn of the century, Art Nouveau produced the exhibition pavilion fro the Viennese Succession as well as the Metro entrances that align on underground passage to Paris. Art Nouveau crystal chandeliers are distinguished by the consistent use of floral ornaments.

The period of Modernism emphasize reason and abstraction as the primary values in Modern Art. The influence of this period is manifest in linear and functional architectural designs that persist until the present. Two of the founding institutions of Modernism, Gropius and Kandinsky, have established the prevalent concepts of today’s crystal chandelier designs.