Picture this: It's the early 1800's, Sir Humphry Davy, armed with a battery of 2,000 cells, creates a 4-inch electric arc between two charcoal sticks. That was the birth of the first electric arc lamp, “The Dazzling Splendor,” as Davy called it. Despite his early innovation, it took a while for suitable electric generators to appear so it could become truly practical.
Fast-forward to the 1840s in Paris, nicknamed the City of Lights for its romantic allure, and perhaps it's not too much of a stretch to say for its groundbreaking lighting technology. That's when the first widely used version of the arc light, or "limelight" as it was charmingly called, made its debut. They created illumination by directing an oxyhydrogen flame at a cylinder of calcium oxide (quicklime). It might sound like ancient wizardry, but this early arc light was used to cast brilliant theater lighting. While limelights have long left the theater stage, the expression "in the limelight" still lives on in our everyday language, reminding us of their luminous past.
It wasn't until the late 1870s, and with more available power supply, that Paul Yablochkov, a Russian engineer, came up with a bright idea called the "Yablochkov candle." This version of the arc lamp lit up streets in Paris and other European cities. Arc lamps were like the rockstars of the lighting world, illuminating streets, trolley routes, factories, retail shops, palaces, and even casting light on the silver screen in film projectors.
These lamps had their moment in the spotlight in global history - and we're both inspired and excited to give them new life and light in the present.
AN INTERVIEW WITH THE DESIGNER:
What was the inspiration for this new light design?
BILL: I was able to find an original gas version years back and fell in love with the look. These were the first electric lighting fixtures used in factories, train stations, and as street lamps. I think the history of them is really cool.
In what ways are you excited to see this design used?
BILL: I envision these as statement pieces in kitchens such as island lighting. They are also perfect for restaurants and offices looking for classy statement pieces.
How would you describe this lighting style/light design to a customer?
BILL: It's a historic design with vintage elegant flare. Hand made of solid brass using custom made in house components and also hand blown glass that were sized to reflect the original design.
What is your favorite part about this design?
BILL: The small details in the hardware that standout including the different depths of the layers and the heft of the materials which also are just like the originals.
What is your favorite shade on this new design?
BILL: I would have to say our new Humphrey, named after the inventor of the early form of the arc light, Humphry Davy. This shade is a new find for us and are made in the original moulds. They used to be made by Gillinder Brothers here on the East Coast. They were made in the mid 1800's and they no longer produce them. We were able to locate and use the original mould to help recreate these beauties.
Were there any challenges to implement/materialize the design?
BILL: Just lots of trial and error getting the materials sized, but that is just par for the course!