Evidenced by the heartbreaking (but highly practical) tradition of cutting holes in fancy rugs just to get a lamp cord out of sight as surreptitiously as possible, exposed electrical wires aren't usually thought of as decorative. More like necessary evils, best hidden: When I recently bought a cord for my wok lamp, the employee in charge told me to choose whatever would "become invisible" against my walls, which are white.
But I went with a black cord.
What I envisioned for this pendant lamp was a long cord that looped a few times over a hook or ring in the ceiling and then came down at an angle towards the wall, the black line creating a sort of triangular drawing in the airspace of our apartment. Hiding that shape, by using a white cord or even hard-wiring it, wouldn't have been half as fun.
I admit that I have a strong, twitch-like proclivity for doing the thing I have just been expressly told not to do. But in this case I was just as much emboldened to by the fact that I'm seeing more and more designers using electrical cords—with their unpredictable, snaking kinks and contrasting colors—in decorative ways.
Easy-lovers, rejoice: Your cords and wires can come out of hiding.
Call it permission to be lazy if you like—but the vine-like, twisting lines of a lamp cord are strangely beautiful. They add texture, visual interest, and dimension where normally you'd have none. Here are some of interesting ways I've seen them used, recently:
Braided, hanging down the wall below sconces:
...even if they are hard-wired:
Trailing off workspaces:
Draping, like a canopy:
Unabashedly colorful, in otherwise neutral rooms:
In a graphic design, pinned against the wall:
Wrapped in bold or subtly-colored yarn, like this bubblegum pink:
En masse, so much so that the cords become the design of the light fixture itself:
Exposed cords: Would you or wouldn't you? Give me your take in the comments.