Interior Design

The Hint You Should Be Taking From Corporate Lobby Lighting

May 19, 2016

It's not often that I'm inspired by the look or feel of corporate lobbies. (Is there any genre of interior less sexy?) But last night, while I was walking down Park Avenue to meet a friend for a beer at The Shakespeare, I saw a jagged knot of lights through a tall open window. Of an office building. I stopped and stared (and then 'grammed it).

These are fluorescent lights living their best life

A photo posted by Amanda (@mandasims) on

In every other way, the building was classically corporate—towering glass windows, slick black exterior, expensive-looking art looming behind a few bald men manning a reception desk—and the whole shebang was, of course, lit up with long, skinny fluorescent tube lights. The kind I have in my kitchen. The kind that had just inspired me to write an article about alternatives, because I hate them so much.

But these tubes weren't parallel, nor encased under a foggy fixture on the ceiling—they were suspended, some ends up and others down, in a wonderfully jagged installation above the room. They reminded me of enormous, glowing sprinkles frozen in the midst of a fall down from Heaven. Woaaooooooow I think I said, before backpedaling a few paces and snapping the picture.

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Fluorescent tube lights are perhaps the most unpopular, passé, and avoided of light bulbs in the current design zeitgeist. Most designers would either avoid them entirely, or use them predictably—but not this one. I didn't run home and try to jimmy the ones in my kitchen into pendant art—this arrangement's corporate lobby habitat has to be its ideal environment, and I don't know exactly how they rigged it or if I could—but I did walk away inspired to give more the out of vogue materials a second glance.

Vinyl flooring. Glass blocks. Stucco. Brushed nickel. Felt. Velour. How can we turn these on their heads, make them beautiful? Technology is amazing. But what's old or forgotten, made new again, is magic.

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Amanda Sims

Written by: Amanda Sims

Professional trespasser.