Travel to Montreal and enjoy great lighting!

7 Nov 2017 20:17

Can't afford the time or money to go to Paris?  We just returned from a trip to Montreal.  Being in the lighting business I am always delighted to find new ways to use light.  The very first night, we went down to Old Montreal - the seaport area where 17th Century buildings parade along narrow, cobblestone streets. Montreal is an island named after Mont Real, a volcanic hill centered on the island, that is in the center of the St Laurence River. It's now a World Heritage site.

As we walked along Rue Saint Paul, we were entertained and amused by videos of carousing 17th Century people projected on buildings.  Every street photographs as if it is awash in sepia - due to the yellow-toned street lamps. 

A popular destination is the Basilica of Notre Dam on Rue Saint Sulpice. The arched doorways and towers are lit and every evening, except Sundays, there is a light show inside the Basilica as well.

One evening, our Canadian friends took us for a ride up Mount Royal which became a park, originally designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, who designed Central Park.  At the top is a look-out point that rivals Mulholland Drive. The lights are quite fantastic as the City is going through a renaissance and the structures rival any in North America. 

Nonetheless, you can still go to a local market center and find great bread and pastry that rival anything you can find in France...

Why you need high "CRI"

8 Sep 2016 20:50

Okay - so you're probably wondering, "What is CRI and why do I need it?"

Color rendition refers to how colors appear when viewed under a particular light source. Daylight is the perfect light source and gives the best color rendition.  We tend to compare how things look based on what we're accustomed to seeing in daylight.  

The higher the CRI, the better the color rendering ability. Light sources with a CRI of 85 to 90 are considered good at color rendering. Light sources with a CRI of 90 or higher are excellent at color rendering and should be used for tasks requiring the most accurate color discrimination.

The International Commission on Illumination (CIE), the global authority on lighting and color, has even devised a Color Rendering Index (CRI) that uses a scale of 1-100 to measure how well a light source reproduces color in the same way sunlight does. The closer a source gets to 100, the more accurately it renders colors.

Superior color rendition is important so colors and textures look their best.  It is recommended that for homes, the CRI be 80 or better.  My personal choice is 90 or better.  Although you may be using LED bulbs that are 2700K, it still looks too white.  K which stands for Kelvin is the color temperature of a light source and 2700 is the color temperature of incandescent lighting, however, the average CRI of incandescent is 98. 

This is why when viewing a red apple indoors under an incandescent bulb, for example, the apple’s color will appear very similar to how it looks outside in daylight. Under a white fluorescent bulb with a 50-60 CRI, it will have a bluish cast.

Unfortunately, the bulbs you find in big box and hardware stores do not indicate the CRI.  Most likely it's 80 at best.  If you want the optimum color rendition, look for stores and on-line sources that specialize in bulbs.

Who's Afraid of an LED?

7 Jun 2016 20:06

Back in the 1890’s, when the first light bulbs became available, people were afraid of electricity so they added electric lights (turned downward) into their gas light chandeliers (turned upward).  The idea was to keep the gas capability as a back-up just in case the electricity blew up.  These fixtures were in fashion for about 5 minutes.  
Yet, that’s what so many people are doing today – clinging to old technology when the newer one is an improvement over what they are accustomed to.   

Forget about hoarding incandescent bulbs!  Here is what you need to know… 

The first thing you must wrap your mind around is that LED is a different technology.

LED stands for “Light Emitting Diode”.  Diodes are chemically treated points that glow when electricity is run through it.  
BENEFITS of LED over incandescent and fluorescent include:
  • Low Power Requirement: Most require approximately one tenth the electricity of incandescent.
  • High Efficiency: The power to an LED is converted into light with minimal heat production.
  • Long Life: When properly installed, an LED can function for decades.
  • Cooler than incandescent bulbs in operation because any heat created is contained inside.
  • Lowest Cost over ownership of all other lights.

Get the right bulb for each task and fixture:
  • Table lamps and ceiling fixtures -  choose 2700K (Kelvin).  This is the color temperature that is closest to the warmth of incandescent. 
  • Bathrooms and kitchens - where you may require a whiter, cleaner light, choose 3000K.  Under 2700K the light becomes very yellow/red – great for romantic light in a restaurant.  Over 3000K – up to 5000K – the light becomes extremely white like daylight.
  • Pendants and chandeliers - look for torpedo and candelabra shapes now in soft white or clear.

The human eye sees LED lighting differently than incandescent
– even at 2700K.  That’s because most LED bulbs have a CRI (Color Rendering Index) of only 80 as compared to incandescent which is 100.  LED bulbs carried by big box and hardware stores do not even indicate the CRI (and sometimes the Kelvin) on the packaging, but figure they’re all about 80.  Look for brand name bulbs that have a CRI above 90.  This makes a huge difference in how the light is perceived.

Dimming LED bulbs –
requires a low-voltage wall dimmer. This is because traditional dimmers used for incandescent cannot sense the extremely low wattage these bulbs use.  For instance, a 40-watt equivalent LED candelabra uses only 4-watts!  Low-voltage dimmers are inexpensive and fit within designer wall plates such as Decora style.  Most will work with whole-house lighting systems such as Lutron.

LED replacements
are available where you now use halogen, such as MR16’s (used in tracks and recessed fixtures), traditional incandescent Edison and candelabra bulbs, as well as tubular fluorescent shapes and outdoor par lamps.
LED bulbs that look and light like the incandescents you still love!  
Now available through

212.750.1500 ▪
Yes - this is an LED!

A 1928 Icon gets a new life - and look!

19 Jan 2016 19:19

140 West Street, NYC
 Lampworks is proud to have made the exterior Deco light fixtures for the landmark skyscraper, 140 West Street, formerly known as the Barclay-Vesey Building, designed to house New York Telephone’s Headquarters.     

Completed in 1927 with room for 6,000 employees, its lobby has 22-foot-high ceilings and features murals depicting the history of communication.  The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission said the building was a "pivotal structure in the history of skyscraper architecture."  

The new entrance is at 100 Barclay Street.  Lampworks’ wall lights illuminate three sides, and twelve hanging lanterns will be installed along the Guastavino-vaulted pedestrian arcade across from the Freedom Tower, to illuminate luxury retail shops

ICFF - Triangular Reasoning

19 May 2015 22:10

Are LEDs the answer to everything?!

8 Dec 2014 22:24

Whenever I give a lecture on lighting, I start out with, "Lighting is like a jewelry box.  It can never be too full! And, just like you wear your jewelry in different combinations, you use lighting in different combinations depending upon how you are using a space, or the effect you wish to achieve.
A variety to mix and match.

It's important to make sure that the lamps you use are appropriate to the the task.  For instance, LEDs are directional.  The light will go straight out from the diodes.  So, if you are lighting a cove and want the lights to go up, LED is perfect.  But if you have a cove with a bottom diffuser and want the light to shine up and down, you need to put strips of LEDs back to back - one for the up light and one for the down light.  In this case, you may be better off with tube lighting that glows in all directions.  One type is cold-cathode.  Cold Cathode lasts 80,000-100,000 hours, whereas LED lasts up to 50,000 hours.  

Up lit Cove Lighting Combined with Incandescent Table Lamps
What about the color of LED light?  Yes, they are available in 2700K, the color of incandescent, but often they still look very white.  This is because the CRI (Color Rendering Index) is low.  The highest possible CRI is100, however, most LEDs are about 80.  If color is critical, a quality LED will offer 92-95 CRI.  Fluorescent is typically about 50 - no wonder they make colors look so sickly!

Then there is the temperature at which they operate.  We all know that Halogen is very hot.  Xenon is also quite hot but lasts at least twice as long as Halogen.  Incandescent gives off a bit less heat, and fluorescent is cooler still.  LEDs give off a lot of heat but are built with heat-sinks that absorb and contain the heat, and cold-cathode is amazingly cool.

We have to weigh all the benefits of every type of light, and when mixing different forms of lamps there are many factors to consider - heat and lumen output, Kelvin, CRI, and longevity, not to mention the energy they require.  Whew!  It isn't easy, but at least there are a wide range of choices.  

LED can't be everything to everyone - but it is getting better all the time!


13 May 2014 15:16

I have a bit of a dilemma.  Our
company specializes in sustainable lighting, yet I work in Hell's Kitchen, part of the Times Square area.  According to Free Tours by Foot of NYC, "Con Ed estimated that at the peak of electrical use in the Theater District, approximately 161 Megawatts of electricity is being used at any one time.  We have read that one megawatt could power one thousand U.S. homes.  That's 161,000 U.S. homes."

Every morning I walk through this section of the town where lights are flashing constantly - in broad daylight.  In the evening, as I leave, more lamps are added making the streets feel like a sunny day all through the night!

Yet, there's a constant push to conserve energy - insulating our homes to save heating oil, improving  the mileage in our vehicles to conserve gas, and putting a few token fluorescent bulbs into our garages to save electricity.  So - what about the other areas of our homes and workplaces?

A designer recently told me how she is stocking up on incandescent bulbs because they're no longer being manufactured.  Sure you can still find incandescents left in stock - but what to do when they're all gone? As of January 1st 2013, manufacturers were no longer making 40 and 60 watt incandescent light bulbs as they do not meet new energy efficiency standards.  The 75 and 100 watt bulbs were already banned.  That leaves consumers with three basic options; Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), light emitting diode (LED), or Halogen lights.  

Personally, I don't see a need for CFL's, especially since they contain mercury and emit more heat  than LEDs.   LEDs have gone through a few different incarnations in recent years and although they generate a lot of heat (yes -they do!), they have "heat sinks" which absorb and enclose it.  This cuts down on your A/C electric load.

LED is available as an A Lamp - a medium/Edison base commonly used in decorative table lamps and overhead enclosed fixtures, par lamp - used for exterior floods and interior recessed fixtures, MR - used for track and recessed fixtures, tubes - to replace tubular fluorescents, and candelabra. Getting candelabras right, however, is still a challenge.  We use them mostly in fixtures with exposed bulbs - like chandeliers.  Since they only have an equivalent of 25-watts output, they aren't useful in every situation, and they're not very pretty since you can see the diodes (the little dotty light sources) and have a clunky heat sink.  Recently developed is an incandescent-looking LED that appears to have a "filament".

All are available in a variety of wattage and color temperatures.  It's important to check the Kelvin (K), which is the color temperature.  The right color of light can set or break the mood, or if you're working, the right color can make your task easier.  Many new LEDs are also dimmable. 

If you'd like to learn more about alternative lighting - check out our Sustainable Lighting Page - chock full of existing technology used in new, more efficient ways.  Very soon we will all see the world in a whole new light!

Oh where oh where have the Showrooms gone?!

16 Feb 2014 17:50

Have you noticed how so many home furnishings buildings are practically empty - of showrooms and visitors?  This is due to three things - the Internet, the economy, and the demographics of potential clients.  Now, instead of the whoosh of fabric wings - you can hear a pin drop...

Growing up in the sixties, my parents hired an interior designer.  They chose a single practitioner who took them to upholsterers and cabinet-makers in Brooklyn, fabric jobbers on the Lower East Side, and small shops that represented furniture manufacturers from New England, the Mid-West and North Carolina.  


She made interesting lamps from antiques discovered at country auctions, and used family photos, memorabilia and collectibles to accessorize.  Specialty stores like Sloane, B. Altman and Bloomingdale's had wonderful furniture, and yes, fabric and lighting departments too, which are all gone, or are remnants of their former selves. They too, were her sources.
About that time, someone came up with the idea of consolidating sources into one building so designers could find everything in one place.  Then as competition grew fierce showroom owners and manufacturers spent more money in an effort to attract the trade.  This spawned a new industry where each manufacturer supported dozens of "retail-to-the-trade" showrooms across the country. Prices increased to pay rent and sales staff.  In an effort to boost sales to support these spaces they began importing everything from exotic trim to furniture and hand-made lighting.  An exploding assortment of home-furnishings attracted upper middle class and high end residential clients, corporate and hospitality buyers.
Soon, there were a dozen major showroom buildings within large metropolitan areas as well as smaller buildings in outlying cities.  The economy went up and down, but showrooms rode the waves knowing that eventually their clients would return.  And then... a triple whammy.  About the same time the economy dropped off the first cliff in 2008, a proliferation of Chinese goods hit the market.  At this same time consumers started buying home furnishings and antiques on the Internet.  They were scooped up like canned goods on Fresh Direct!  Who would have figured that someone would spend thousands on  a sofa they hadn't even sat in?
After all, a trade showroom is just a brick and mortar store in a high rise building.  Those who do survive offer merchandise and services that cannot be found elsewhere.  Two of my favorites are located in the NYDC amd are worth the trip!  They're family businesses; Korts & Knight, a jewel of a cabinet shop that can do anything, and Louis J. Solomon, whose custom upholstery can also be seen in their LI showroom.

The touchy-feely days are waning and demand for quality goods has vanished.  The expectation that everything will be delivered instantly is par for the course.  Many current end-users care not whether the bedspread coordinates with the draperies and certainly won't wait 12 weeks.  They want instant comfort, the latest electronics, and lowest price.
Film Center, Hell's Kitchen, NYC

Showrooms cannot survive without walk-in traffic.  Many have either consolidated, downsized, moved out or gone out.  Design professionals and their clients search sources on the net - and occasionally visit those that need to be seen in person.  This entails trips to Brooklyn, LIC, and other parts of the hinter land.

We've had more serious visitors to our new space in The Film Center Building in Hell's Kitchen than we did in the Design District or any design center.  We are now a hip and happy destination. appears that things have come full circle. 

Watt's in a Name?

18 Oct 2012 21:13

I often wonder how Designers come up with names for their styles.  In the home furnishings business we use popular names from film and TV like Sophia, Brittany or Helena.  Inspiration can also come from flowers; names like Lily or Rose. And often we capture the ambiance of locations using names like Hampton, Versailles and Buckingham.

The Janine
When I design a new lighting fixture I agonize over what to call it.  Should I give it a style number or a name that evokes the era it was designed after?  Hm mm - maybe a mid-20th Century design called The Eisenhower Chandelier?  (just kidding).  Wherever ideas flow from, they tend to be mostly feminine - like boats!  I like to name mine after women I know.  I have lighting fixtures named after a favorite aunt, Eve, granddaughter Alex, niece Gabi, and daughter-in-law Janine.  Janine's fixture captures her perfectly.  She is very strong. She does all the carpentry, painting, and yard work around the house, so the frame is stainless steel.  She is tailored, so the shape has clean lines, yet she loves feminine touches - especially jewelry - so I've topped it off with graduated Czech crystal.

Recently, my daughter, Rachel Wood, asked why I hadn't named a fixture after her.  It occurred to me that I hadn't come up with anything appropriately befitting her personality.  She is creative, has a great sense of humor, and is always on the run - experiencing new places and making new friends. Her style is harder to pin down.  However, someone else beat me to it - she has a purse named after her!  Rachel is a high fashion makeup artist who works with Louise Roe, the fashion presenter and designer from the UK who is replacing Elle Macpherson on Fashion Star.  Louise has her own line of clothing and accessories and she too uses names of women she knows for her creations.  
Louise and Rachel also have a new show of their own called "Beauty School".  I'm so proud of them!  Do you think they'd name a lipstick after me?  Who wouldn't want to wear a lustrous red named Bébé?

The New (Retail) Frontier

25 Aug 2012 12:09

So - you think the economy has tanked?  Well, retail sales may not be great in the US, but take a look in the emerging countries of the world.  Wow - have the tables turned!  The appetite for American luxury goods has gone beyond autos and iphones.

Ralph Lauren - Cheng Du Store
 Luxury stores and labels such as Polo Ralph Lauren, Coach, and Tiffany & Co. are building hundreds of stores in China, Asia, India and Russia.  Compare their new middle class to ours.  Here our largest city is New York with just over eight million people.  China has ten cities, each with over ten million people and India has a middle class that's larger than the entire population of the US.  That's a lot of jeans, perfume and jewelry!

DLF Promendade, India

In the case of home furnishings,
we are looking forward to selling a lot of .... well you get the picture!  Right now, Lampworks is producing hundreds of lampshades for store fixtures for these companies and they are being shipped to Shanghai, Macau, Abu Dubai, Moscow, Kazakhstan and well, all those other places, some of which, not too long ago, were considered very remote. Now they are becoming another 57th Street.

The kicker to all this is that so much of the merchandise is actually made in China and Asia - but it is the label that is desirable.  There is a difference, however.  Companies have to rethink how they merchandise their wares as other cultures have different buying habits. They may read from top to bottom and open their wallets based upon how goods The Indian culture is more Westernized, however, the government has been slow to lower import taxes and duty so that more luxury goods can be offered in their stores.

Lampworks Branches Out!

1 Jan 2012 23:58

These days, many businesses downsize.  Lampworks recently moved into a larger space to include furniture and flooring.  After all, lighting needs display space on walls and ceilings, so we have room for our new, exclusive lines at:
The New York Design Center
200 Lexington Ave, Suite 903, NYC 10016
Visit Lampworks' Website and Showroom to learn about designing everything you need.  We'll take you through the often confusing world of sustainable lighting choices, and show you how to integrate them into your designs.

Continuing our tradition of providing quality, custom, sustainable designs (ours or yours), so too may you customize our seating, area rugs and case goods.  Just as with our lighting, you specify the finish or materials, size and design.  Everything has a short foot print with fast lead-times.

Our furniture is made from the finest European leathers, fabrics from design sources - or COM.  Order sofas, sectionals and modulars "by the inch" and choose the filling, legs and cushions. We also offer great dining, lounge, pull-up, and accent chairs, kitchen and bar stools.

Along with our stock design and custom area rug capabilities, Lampworks is the only source for custom, outdoor area rugs!  Yes, your size, shape and design, made with custom colors.

We offer a variety of yarns and textural effects.  Poms are shipped quickly for those demanding Clients who want to make decisions now!

So, stop in when you're in the NYDC, or make an appointment at: 212.750.1500 to get a preview of our fresh, innovative styles and service.  And...remember our lighting too...

SM-01 Surface Mount
Surface Mounts in many sizes and shapes. 
Choose the finish and lamping for your requirements.

Fiberglass Mid-20th C Shade
Custom Lampshades and
Contemporary and Classic Table and Floor Lamps 

Make an appointment to learn about designing everything you need.  We'll take you through the often confusing world of sustainable lighting sources and assist you with integrating them into your designs.  Now Lampworks is your One Source for furniture and flooring as well as lighting!

Come! Sit! Stay! at the NYDC

19 Nov 2011 13:45

Usually, we write about lighting, however, Lampworks recently moved into the New York Design Center at 200 Lexington Avenue, and so our mascots want you to know how excited they are to be here!   If you've shopped at Lampworks, then you've met our Standard Poodles, Yoshi and Caniche.  Caniche is the white female princess who holds court over the showroom, and Yoshi is the the male rescue with soulful eyes who greets everyone for pets.   

On our first offical day, as we approached the entrance, there was Mike, one of the building staff, raising the flags of the US, NYDC, and 1stdibs.  We stopped to salute and entered the lobby where we were greeted by Eileen and Louis who qualify visitors and messengers.  Eileen is in big trouble ever since the Poodles found out she keeps biscuits at her station.  Now they won't continue through the lobby unless they get a treat.  While we were there we also met Jordan of Apropos, with his dog.

Next, we stopped in the Cafe to pick up coffee and were pleasantly surprised to find that the Poodles were allowed to accompany me where they were offered some treats.  How is a canine to keep a good figure around here?

As we rode up to the ninth floor, the Poodles, who always watch their elevator manners, sat quietly wagging their tails offering free shoe shines.   When we arrived, we met DIFFA's mascot, Spot.  Gosh, this is an exciting start to the day - another member of the NYDC Kennel Club! 

Ready for work, Caniche and Yoshi got into position for their nap and
waited for another chance to see Eileen on their way out for a walk.  Hmmm....maybe the guys at the Cafe will spare a little cheese they've been saving for those yummy paninis?  Next time you are in the NYDC, stop into Suite 903 and have your shoes shined while you view our new lighting.  Come! Sit! Stay!

7 Weeks to a New Showroom!

14 Oct 2011 20:11

It's time to freak out!  ONLY TWO WEEKS LEFT!  Now that each of our contractors has gotten to a running start without tripping over each other, they have all promised to take us from this...

Suite 903 (October 13, 2011) a finished showroom!  Although it looks like nothing is happening, the walls are being framed and almost all the piping is run for the electric wires.  Then the entire space will be painted, the floor will be installed and we'll transport our "display fixtures".  These have to be reinstalled to show off our sconces, table lamps and lampshades.

While waiting for this to happen, I took some time out with friends to attend a book signing by Ana Tzarev in her gallery on West 57th Street.  Justin Warner, Director of the gallery, whisked us away for a glass of champagne and introduced us to Ana.  Originally from Croatia, Ana specializes in scenes of nature; especially flowers and birds.  Primary colors dominate her themes and her canvasses are of a grand scale.  Ana is one of the most exuberant painters I have ever met - and so is her art!

And speak of exuberant people, in the center is our group leader, Interior Designer, Elle, of Lebeck Design Corp., and from left to right, long-time pal Sean, Courtney of B.Berger, family friend Ram, and me!

I'm cashing in all my favors and inviting everyone in town to spend the weekend packing chandeliers.  Free beer and pizza for all.  So far we have two brave participants. When I return to work on Monday, I will have photos with more progress.  I hope.

7 Weeks to a New Showroom!

23 Sep 2011 11:39

We made a lot of decisions about the electrical (whew!).  Now the work begins.  It involves a lot of chopping, drilling and concrete dust, so this part is done early mornings, evenings and weekends so as not to disturb the other showrooms.

This past Tuesday was the annual "What's New What's Next" event at the NYDC.  Since we were not officially open, but wanted to have a presence, we set up a "construction vignette" with chandeliers on ladders, a few pieces of our new leather line and a pile of lampshades peaking from a packing box.
We displayed a chair and ottoman from Leathercraft.  Their furniture is amazing.  It's all made from beautiful, top-quality European leather, eight-way hand-tied construction and is custom made in 3-4 weeks!
As you can see, the choice of style runs the gamut from Contemporary to Classic.  If you want to design your own styles or reinvent ours, be our guest!
We also showed our signature chandelier, the Dulce, which received a lot of attention.  
The best part of our lines is that they are Made in America!  So, quick lead-time for custom fabrication and a short footprint is included at no extra charge!

Now, we have to meet with the other contractors to figure out where everything else will go.  Oy!

7 Week Countdown to a New Showroom!

12 Sep 2011 11:54

Lampworks has begun the third incantation of it's professional life in NYC.  In 1996 we opened in the D&D Building, or "979 Third" to the locals.  Five years later, when we needed to expand into larger space, we moved to 58th Street in September of 2001 (good timing eh?).  At that time it would have made a good location for filming "Midnight Cowboy".  Just a seedy-looking street that leads to the upper roadway of the 59th Street Bridge, it has always been home to great restaurants like Felidia; but her jewel of a building was the exception, not the rule. 

As more and more home furnishings merchants gentrified the side streets surrounding the D&D, A&D and Fine Arts Buildings, we improved properties.  Since the values went up, property owners proceeded to raise rents.  It became a win/win for landlords and a lose/lose for tenants.

So, here we are, September, 2011 and we're doing our third build-out in 15 years!  We are moving into the NYDC, the New York Design Center, lovingly referred to as "200 Lex".

Our new space is a "usable" 1,677 square feet. As of today, it is a concrete box with 10'-8" ceilings, and two tall windows that look out onto Lexington Avenue and 32nd Street. Keep in mind that ceiling height is everything to a lighting showroom.  We have exactly seven weeks to complete a build-out, move in and open! 

Suite 903 (September 9, 2011)

The NYDC was built at the turn-of-the-century, so ceilings are composed of clay and cannot hold more than 25 pounds.  For most showrooms that's not a problem, but for Lampworks... well, we will have to install  steel extrusions called Kindorf that are literally bolted to the bottom of the I-beams by sawing away the concrete and plaster that surrounds them.  The Kindorf is electrified and the beams must be restored.  This brings our "ceiling height" down to  9'-8" - not a very comfortable height to hang large chandeliers.  We have a lot to do!

We're planning everything down to the inch, but where to display large chandeliers?  Yikes!  And - we're making room for a new category - furniture.  We'd also like to reuse as many of our existing display fixtures as possible, but don't want the space to appear crowded.  It's very tempting to put ten pounds into a five pound bag -exactly the look we want to avoid!  We'll let you know how this plays out when we get to Week Two.  Stay posted!

Cool Lighting Basics - 101

2 Apr 2011 00:05

In our last Blog we talked about Sustainable lighting and bulbs (referred to as lamps) with which most of us are more familiar.  As promised, here are some additional, newer types of lamps.

Ah - the miracle lamp - Light Emitting Diode.   Better known as an LED, they've been around since 1927 (!) and were perfected in 1962 by GE.  LED's have been used for a while in aviation, and in street lights and electronics, but were not used for general lighting purposes until recently.  Although there are LED par-like flood lamps, Edison and candelabra based lamps for residential use, we have a long way to go in perfecting the color of the light,and being able to get the lumens we are all used to living by.  Most types cannot be dimmed, may fade and can change color.  Also, although manufacturers boast that LED's last for 50-80,000 hours, these lamps haven't been around long enough to know for sure!  Still, it's become the cold lighting of choice for under-counter and interior cabinet lighting because of the compact size and the small amount of electricity it requires.
The once industrial Metal Halide lamp has morphed into a variety of shapes and sizes that can be for commercial and residential use.  The original 1960's technology has been around long enough for us to know that we can get from 50-80,000 hours from one lamp.  Take a walk down Fifth Avenue and get real close to the  windows that wrap around the front of Saks 5th Avenue.  James Ranson, Associate Director of Visual Lighting Design for Saks, uses Metal Halide lamps to get beautiful effects on posh merchandise that has to look its best!  The lamps are ideal for window display as they are cold like fluorescent.  This way, the small world of a shop window won't require more energy to keep it cool like traditional incandescent and halogen lamps.  Additionally, they last far longer, so they're saving money on staff time and replacement lamps.
Less familiar to some is Cold Cathode, also known as CCFL.  These lamps are actually a cousin of Neon.  They are gas-filled tubes that can be bent into virtually any shape and size.  We find them especially suited for illuminating coves as they have less drop-off than LED's and they can be made any length, which means they are not interrupted by dark spots like fluorescents which come in standard sizes.  They are also colder than fluorescent and can be dimmed.  They also last up to 25,000 hours.
Cove Lit w/ Cold Cathode

Here's my favorite... Fiber Optics.  Fiber Optic Lighting does not use any "lamps" - except one for the source.  It is a lighting system that transports the light through glass fibers - sort of like Fios.  The series of glass fibers is protected by a flexible cable that makes it water-proof, fire-proof and may be installed where you can't use conduit because there's no electricity going through the cables!  Best of all, except for the source, there are no bulbs to change - it's totally permanent!  It gives off no heat at all.  Even fluorescents and some LED's do give off some heat albeit less than incandescent. 


So, how do we sort out all these new types of lamps that we're all debating about?  Sustainable lighting is still in its infancy so there's a lot to learn.  The truth is, even manufacturers don't have all the answers.  They come up with new products to sell but often don't offer coordinating sockets with dimmers.  There are no standards for labeling; often, they each label specs differently than another company, although they are exactly the same.  The answer is to be open to everything.  There isn't one type of lighting that can substitute for another any more.  Experiment a little and see what works for you.  Not everything is worth all the hype - but you may be pleasantly surprised!

It's not easy being Green!

17 Jan 2011 02:45

Remember that song by Kermit the frog?  "It's not easy being green"  Well, many of our clients feel the same way!  We've done a lot of research to sort out the differences between so many types of lighting; searched the Internet, spoken with experts who lecture at our "Breakfast Club" meetings, and joined organizations such as the Designers Lighting Forum (DLF), NYC.  At these meetings, we meet with other lighting professionals with whom we can discuss types of lighting. 

So where does this leave us?  A bit overwhelmed by it all?  I don't blame you!  Here's the complaint we hear most often: "Our clients want to be more friendly toward the environment and save money, but none of us like the lighting effect of  Fluorescent lighting:"  I couldn't agree more.  The most important thing we've learned is that there is more to Sustainable life than Fluorescents!  Yes you heard it here!  Common' you ask, if we can put a man on the moon, why can't anyone make a CFL look like an incandescent?  For one thing, when Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, it was his goal to imitate gas light, the popular mode of lighting at the time, and just like gas, incandescent has a filament that burns and glows with a warm, yellow light.  That is why they don't last as long as newer kinds of lighting.  They "burn out" quickly.

Enclosed Wall Sconce -
Great with CFL's
Drum Pendant -
Perfect for CFL's


In an effort to create something that is reasonably priced and lasts longer, CFL's have started to dominate the market.  However, it's never going to glow like a candle.  The bulbs, or "lamps" as they are properly referred to, are filled with a gas.  It's like trying to match the color of a your chartreuse fabric to a ready-mixed chart of paint for your walls.  You'll come really close but never quite make it!  The best we can do is choose the "color temperature". 

Incandescents glow at 2700 Kelvin and you can buy CFL's at 2700K as well, however, it's only close.  So, we recommend them for enclosed fixtures such as drum pendants, flush and semi-flush mounts, where it works especially well.  And, we've also found some CFL's that can be dimmed.  Sweet!

Candelabra Base

My favorite alternative is "Xenon".  Yes, just like the lamps they use in the headlights of your car!  They also have a gas inside, but they also have a filament that glows.  Xenon gas is whiter than Fluorescent, they are available in Edison or candelabra bases and are really small so you can get a lot of light in a small shade or fixture.  They cost more than an incandescent, however, they last at least three times as long.  They also dim.  The reason I consider them sustainable is that they give off more light using less wattage.  For instance, the 60-watt version is perceived by the human eye like a brighter, 100-watt incandescent.  So, you'll use less electricity and buy fewer bulbs in the long run.

This tiny sconce has a
shallow shade - good
choice for a Xenon bulb.

Some of the "new" lamps we're using are actually old technology.  For instance, Cold Cathode lighting, another lamp that has gas inside, is a cousin of Neon.  Fiber Optic lighting was first developed in the 1950's.  More on those, the ever-popular LED and Metal Halide next time - there is a lot to "look at!"

For more information on green lamps and lighting, visit Lampworks' Sustainable Page.

Window Dressing

29 Oct 2010 01:57

As the great recession takes its toll on small business owners, we find ourselves working harder and putting in longer hours in an effort to bring in more new business.  To my delight, however, our business has picked up, thanks to our loyal clients from the past who are starting to get busier. This is how Customer Service is supposed to work!  It may not pay off immediately, but it sure pays off in the long run.  Customer Service is not just a department staffed by cheerful people who apologize for the mistakes of others, but a willingness on everyone's part to do what it takes to make everything right.

Our First Window, October 2001
Along with service, promotion is a key factor in getting your name out.  Lampworks' Designer Showcase Windows have been designed and installed by well-known interior designers since their inception in 2002. Past participants have included alumni of the Kips Bay Designer Showhouse, Holiday House and the office of Albert Hadley.  

Our current window was just completed by an interior designer with a fresh slant on things, Felicia Zwebner, of Art de Triomphe, LLC.  Each window has a theme and Felicia, in keeping with "everything French", has installed a table and chairs on a stone patio under a canopy of branches and moss.  But....the world has turned topsy-turvey!  The dining area is on a wall, our entrance stairs has morphed into a waterfall and you'll walk across the sky to enter the showroom alongside a Montgolfier!  So, stop by and see Felicia in Lampworksland. 

The benefit of these windows is plain to see (no pun intended), but for us it is the privilege of being in on the planning and installation.  My staff and I have so much fun watching and participating as the the windows come alive.  Thank you Window25, Faux Time Design, Gramercy Park Flower Shop, Kravet, Pierre Deux and Inkjet Textile Printing.   As Felicia states, "It's difficult to put together a great group of tradespeople like the ones I work with."  Our windows are a win-win effort that brings attention to the designer, our lighting, and the furniture, fabric, flooring and accessories that are loaned to us by area merchants.  Additionally, talented tradespeople get to strut their stuff where everyone can see how they use floral displays, paint clouds, and build beautiful upholstered balloons (yes balloons!).
It never ceases to amaze me how store owners neglect their best asset - their windows on the world.  Lampworks has become known for ever-changing, constantly amazing, creative windows.  Local shoppers, residents and other merchants tell us how they walk down 58th Street just to see what we've done with our window.  It keeps people looking into our showroom, and - we've proven that interior designers love doing windows!

PS: If you can't make it to NYC, you can see the window and read all about it in the Traditional Home magazine blog!


Insist on Good Lighting Wherever You Go!

17 Aug 2010 02:10

If you ask any designer why they do what they do, most likely they will say that they want to make the world a more beautiful or perfect place.  It's not easy to go through life noticing what is right as well as what is askew.  We notice what clashes and try to make it harmonize.  We find something that isn't as it should be and try to fix it.  As a kid I'd see a frame hanging crookedly on a wall and straighten it - even if it wasn't my house!  It upsets me to see things out of balance.

This summer my husband and I spent some long weekends visiting with friends and relatives while staying in high-end hotels, budget motels and B&B's.  They all have different features, however, they have one thing in common; a lack of attention to how their guests use lighting.  As a matter of fact, even if a guest room  has been well planned, after a while it often deteriorates one checks them again.  We all bemoan the fact that lighting is so important, yet we're willing to accept substandard lighting elsewhere.  Here are a few of my pet peeves....

1 - Missing finials. The lampshade falls off when reach over to turn it on.
Solution: Routinely check that they are tight or not missing.
2 - Low wattage bulbs for reading at bedside or on the desk.
Solution: Supply high-wattage bulbs with dimmers.
3 - Bedside lamps are centered on the nightstand but are too far away to be useful.
Solution: Give us slack on the cord so we can move it closer if necessary.
4 - Missing or blown-out bulbs and there are no replacements available.
Solution: Leave extra bulbs in the closet labeled with where they go.
5 - Incorrect or insufficient bulbs.  Housekeeping could care less what they've stuck in any socket.
Solution: Label or color-code replacement bulbs for the staff.
6 - A lamp is unplugged and the cord cord or receptacle is stuck behind a piece of furniture.
Solution: Check daily that everything is working!
7 - Two and three-way switches that never seem to coordinate with each other.
Solution: Label all unusual or multi-ganged switches. 
8 - Full length mirrors and mirrors over dressers that are in the dark.

Solution: Install a light above the mirror.

Lamps centered on nightstands look good but
are too far to reach and don't give adequate light.

 A good example of lighting above a mirror and
 cove lighting adds ambient warmth to the room.

Also, it's so tempting to leave the lights on when we don't have to foot the bill.  So where is our sense of sustainability as consumers?  US hoteliers should install the systems used by Europeans which automatically sense that you have left the room, and turn everything off.

Now that there are mandates for hotels to use CFL's, it would be great if housekeeping staffs replaced each bulb with the same kind.  It is sickening to apply makeup or read in green light, knowing that there are fluorescents available in the same color temperature as incandescents. 

It surprises me that housekeeping supervisors and hotel managers do not review  room lighting on a regular basis.  Perhaps they should spend a night in one of their own rooms. What do you think?

Where is our Catalogue?

29 Mar 2010 23:50

Two weeks ago I turned on our main computer and tried to check email.  A message appeared in the bottom right hand corner of the screen telling me our (brand new) machine had lost it's internet and networking connections.  So, for the past two weeks we have been in Computer Hell.  This is where you are guaranteed to spend an inordinate amount of time if you think you know enough to outwit tech support.  Taking matters into your own hands, however, is better than getting stuck in Computer Limbo where you wait for your brother-in-law to show up to fix it for free, and hope that he doesn't make it worse.  If you're lucky, you'll go directly to Computer Heaven because you can afford a professional.  I won't bore you with the gorey details, suffice it to say that we thank our clients for bearing with us! 

While I spent my time with installation wizards ("watching paint dry"), I picked up a lot of sales calls from design firms who are reviewing their libraries.  They were inquiring about a catalogue.  We explained that our best sellers are on our site , but what we do best is create good-looking lighting the way you need it.  An example is our work with store development designers.  Years ago, when I worked for Bloomingdale's and Macy*s, I observed how important these often oversized, overscaled visual cues can be to the allure of the store and bottom line.  Sometines the most subtle design element can make a difference in the buyer's mood or perception of the product it was meant to enhance.

We love a challenge!  One of our clients, exclusive British childrens' wear designer, Marie Chantal, opted for drum shades wrapped in a special white tape with  floating linen diffusers.  We engineered them so that they would meet UL code in their US stores yet look the same as the original UK version.

Store design projects allow us to collaborate with top professionals such as the Store Development team of Polo Ralph Lauren where they design some of the most creative store fixtures in the world.  Currently, they are installing a store in Kuwait and recently completed one in Dubais.  For the Childrens' departments of these stores we created hand-sewn lampshade pendants on steriods!

Carolina Herrera commissioned a hand-blown chandelier in smokey brown crystal to match her dress satin and Bergdorf Goodman requested five original miniature chandeliers for their Celine windows on Fifth Avenue.

Sak's Fifth Avenue asked us to reproduce lamps for their Cosmetics Department that were originally made in France in the 1920's.  The assignment was to make an acryllic shade that would look like the original Lalique glass.

We enjoy seeing how beautifully everything turns out - the challenging part is the deadlines.  Yes, it's a scary world out there but no longer do you have to worry about whether your design will work.  You design it and we'll make it work.  That's our job.

"UL" Made Simple!

6 Feb 2010 17:37

Many of our clients looked puzzled when we mention that
our lighting is UL.  So, let's set the record straight. 

Underwriters Laboratories® Inc. (UL), is an independent product safety certification organization.  UL does not “approve” products, rather a manufacturer of a UL-certified product must demonstrate compliance with the appropriate safety requirements, many of which are developed and updated yearly by UL.  A manufacturer must also demonstrate that it has a program in place to ensure that each copy of the product complies as well.  Some lighting manufacturers refer to their product as "built with UL parts", or having "UL components".  That's a good start of course - but their fixtures are not necessarily fabricated to UL specifications in a licensed UL shop.

So what's the difference?  Safety standards mandate that you not only use safer parts, but that you construct and configure lighting fixtures in a prescribed way.  For instance, floor lamps must be weighted to pass a "tilt test" and enclosed surface mount fixtures must withstand a "heat test".  Many European products have their own version of UL, however, their standards are different and do not comply with ours.  Some Chinese fixtures with a UL label may be questionable (See our 01/17 Blog).

All fixtures used for commercial, public spaces such as lobbies and hotel rooms must meet the most stringent UL standards.  This is particularly important for hard-wired fixtures; ceiling mounts and wall lights.  An example is the Park Lane Lobby.  Standards for residential lighting have become more strict in recent years as well.  One area to be more cautious about is "portable lighting"; plug in floor and table lamps, as they are often cheap imports that will ignore UL standards.  Look for a UL label on the socket or base.  On hard-wired fixtures it will be inside the canopy or backplate.

We work with a shop that has an "Open UL" license.  This allows us to rewire imported, one-of-a-kind, custom and antique fixtures so that they are compliant and safe.   It also makes sense to update an old table lamp with a UL grounded plug and heavier UL wire and socket.   In the event that there is an electrical fire and an insurance claim is made, one of the first things an adjuster will look for is the UL label. 

Would you buy a toaster that didn't have the UL label?   Keep in mind that lighting is not just a work of art - it has to function and be safe too!

Lamps Last? I Think Not!!

17 Jan 2010 18:11

I've spent over 30 years in the Interior Design industry; half of that specializing in lighting.  With the new year, I have decided it's time to speak out in defense of decorative fixtures made in the West!

Many of Lampworks' clients are residential designers who bring their clients in at the end of a project.  Although our designers try to convince the end-users that lighting is an important part of the overall scheme, some consumers think they can get away with inexpensive Chinese knock-offs. To make matter worse, there's little left in the budget.  Then, they apologize that their clients expect to find quality fixtures at Chinese prices!   Lampworks offers a beautiful assortment of original chandeliers made in the US, Canada, Italy, France and the Czech Republic.  Yes, they do cost more than Asian imports.  Here's why....

Our authentic Versaille style chandeliers
are true to the originals, wired safely and
will be the antiques of tomorrow!

  Chinese imports often have long lead-times because retailers cannot afford to stock large quantities.  We can fabricate every fixture to order.  The price is much lower because quality is poor.  We make everything by hand and stand behind the quality.  Instead of cast brass that's hand-finished, it's made in white metal and poorly finished and assembled.  They won't last very long, and like cheap costume jewelry the finish wears out quickly. Our fixtures will last forever.  In addition, they have minimal wattage capacity, the UL can be questionable, and more importantly the scale and proportion is not correct to the design it pretends to be.

This Versaille style chandelier found on the internet,
bears no resemblance to the classic design,
and the quality is questionable.

Surely everything, including the lighting, should be considered part of the overall design scheme.  Lighting is as important as the HVAC, the kitchen appliances, and the upholstery.  After all - if it isn't just right, we won't be comfortable.  The right lighting will affect how we read, use computers, watch television, eat, cook, entertain and distinguish the navy blue from the black suit in our closet! I remember growing up with beautiful, glass lamps at my parent's bedside, cast brass sconces in the living room and a crystal chandelier in the dining room that today sell as antiques and vintage pieces.  They were not fancy "designer" lights but quality, made-in-America products that served our family well for over fifty years, and were classically designed so they never went out of style.  Will anything we buy today be worth something tomorrow?  Are we only putting good money after bad?

One cannot notice that the world has changed, however, there will come a time when the economy will improve and there will be nothing to choose from but junk.  Small fabricators pride ourselves on offering the "antiques of tomorrow".

So - before you run into that big box store for just any old lamp, or take a chance on that crystal chandelier you found on the internet, consider that "good enough" ends up in yard sales.  Lighting is a quality "appliance" that should work well to fulfill a need and at the same time be a beautiful work of art that you will enjoy for a very long time to come.

The Designers Lighting Forum has a Kid's Night Out!

7 Dec 2009 02:29

I'm always looking for inspiration for my lighting designs.  What better way than to visit places that are beautifully lit?  And - when my husband, Dwight Tobin, hears that anything has to do with theater, well, he always comes along.  Dwight is a producer/director who spent his youth working in the Public Theater with Joe Papp.

So, this past Friday, there we were, together in front of an LED video screen that is 40 feet high and 90 feet wide as we stood on top of the stage where the Rockettes have been kicking off the Radio City Christmas Spectacular since 1932!  Imagine what it's like to stand behind that curved, velvet curtain that looks out over one of the largest venues built to accommodate both film and live theater.

We were greeted by a tall, curly-haired fellow named Charles, waving a handfull of blinking Christmas lights.  He led us up the dramatic stairway, through the quintessential Deco lobby and into the theater.  The show boasts a 3-D opening which is worth the ticket.

Afterward, we followed him again through the crushing crowds back in to meet the legendary theater's lighting designer, David Agress, who explained that until last year the LED screen was the largest in the world.  We were led past the control station of the hydraulic lifts that bring the scenery and actors up and down.  The dials, knobs and buttons are original and reminded us of a 1930's submarine!

It was arranged by our friend Charles Pavarini III, an active member of the DLF (Designers Lighting Forum), a group of lighting professionals.  A portion of the evening's proceeds was donated to the Nukoll's Fund for Lighting Education.

It's all very impressive - but gosh - when we put on those 3-D glasses, everything seemed so real - and it was really cool to reach out as Santa flew by and grab for those gifts!
Photography by Dwight B. Tobin © 2009

The Heart of an Artist

16 Nov 2009 02:36

Charles Pavarini III, whom we are featuring in our window, invited us to join him and his partner Randall to attend a benefit concert last week given by Bernadette Peters to raise money for Broadway Barks. It was a spectacular evening of show tunes and ballads, glamorous Broadway legends and TV personalities. (Here I am at the cast party with Ugly Betty star Michael Urie) The music and performance was superb but what left me with chills was when Ms. Peters paraded dozens of shelter animals on stage, introducing each one and asking that we take them home. Ms. Peters is known to drive around the City picking up dogs from kill shelters and dropping them off to no kill shelters. And our friend, Charles Pavarini, is known to be on hand to enlist anyone who will participate in a good cause.

In that spirit, if our clients choose to forgo using credit cards, Lampworks will donate $25 on every invoice paid to underwrite Pet Rox. Pet Rox is a volunteer musical performance group of animal care professionals who donate their time and talent to raise money on behalf of NYC's animal causes. Projects include raising funds for shelters, adoption initiatives, and a retirement fund for NYC's Ground Zero search and rescue dogs.

So many pets have been abandoned and given away for adoption, now more than ever because of the economy, that our shelters are overburdened. Anything you can do to make the life of a dog or cat feel more at home, more loved or just plain easier is what art is all about. After all "art" is half of the word "heart".

630 Ninth Ave, Suite 215, (Btwn 44th & 45th St), New York, NY, 10036, United States
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