While the Edwardian Period lasted a mere nine years and is generally considered to span from 1901 to 1910 (during the reign of King Edward VII) one could also potentially include style trends that started in the late 1890’s to the 1920’s. It ushered in the invention of electrical lighting for (mainly wealthy) households and while being influenced by continental Europe (due to the burgeoning European travels of the the wealthy) along with the Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau movements, Edwardian lighting designs also became more eclectic and focused on using the unique properties of electrical lighting as inspiration for the lighting designs.
The majority of homes relied on a combination of gas lighting, candles and oil lamps as electric lighting did not become widespread until after The Great War (1918). Where gas lighting was limited in its shade and arm placement (due to the nature of the flame position) electrical lighting could use arms, necks and shades that could be positioned downwards or even at an angle it also featured delicate metalwork and intricate designs, scrolling arms and pretty shades. It proved to be a refreshing break from the darker lighting trends from years gone by. The era also introduced table and floor lamps with beautiful fabric and paneled glass lamp shades. Some of the more distinct Edwardian chandeliers were made up of multi-tiered layers and featured smoked and coloured glass. These Edwardian chandeliers looked stunning in large hallways and commercial establishments such as hotel foyers and function rooms. Edwardian lighting was the perfect marriage of styles and designs which included fine glass, metalwork and castings.
It is difficult to discuss Edwardian lighting without focussing predominantly on Louis Comfort Tiffany. Tiffany was an innovative American interior designer and artist specialising in stained glass. He is famous today for his Tiffany Studios lights and lamps, as well as other stained glass pieces such as Favrile glass, a type of iridescent art glass which (uniquely for the time) had its colour embedded in the glass along with windows, mosaics, ceramics and jewellery.
He traveled to Europe in 1865 and visited the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The museum's extensive collection of Roman and Syrian glass made a deep impression on him. He admired the colouration of medieval glass and was inspired to try and improve the quality of contemporary glass. In his own words, the "Rich tones are due in part to the use of pot metal full of impurities, and in part to the uneven thickness of the glass, but still more because the glass maker of that day abstained from the use of paint".
Tiffany received a number of awards, honours and medals in his time, and is the American artist most associated with the Art Nouveau period, from which Edwardian design took a lot of inspiration.
Lalique was a French glass designer and the founder of a classic glassware company that remains successful even today. He is known for his glass art, perfume bottle, vase, jewellery, chandelier, clock and automobile hood ornament designs.
Sheraton was one of the "big three" English furniture makers of the 18th century and gave his name to a style of furniture characterized by a feminine refinement of late Georgian styles and became the most powerful source of inspiration behind the furniture of the late 18th century.
The Edwardian period was influenced by both Art Nouveau and the Arts and Crafts movement with significant amounts of reproduction furniture being produced to meet demand.
Our Edwardian lighting collection is a breath of fresh air, feminine and graceful it’s easy to see why the Edwardian era was known as the “beautiful era”. After the heaviness, clutter and dark colours of Victorian interiors, people wanted something new and cheerful.