Design Trends, Ideas + Inspiration

On Our Radar: Ceramic Light

For millennia, ceramic has been commonly used to create all kinds of decorative artworks, tableware and so forth. More recently, we have seen it grow more popular as a material for modern lighting designs. In our opinion, it’s about time. For its varied textures, creative possibilities and the rich diffusion of light it can offer, we love what ceramic is bringing to the world of lighting.

Solid, But Not Too Solid

There are four basic kinds of ceramic used in art, all of them made with a type of clay and then usually other materials to make them unique. Earthenware (clay, quartz and feldspar) and stoneware (just clay) result in lighting designs that are opaque and tend to be thicker and more substantial feeling.

Then there are porcelain (kaolin, aka china clay) and bone china (kaolin, feldspar and, yes, animal bone ash). These tend to have a more delicate feel and look. But the materials with which they are made actually make them much stronger than they seem.

Unique Look to Light

Depending on the type of ceramic used, you get different lighting effects. Opaque ceramic lighting designs provide directional light while discreetly hiding its source. Meanwhile, finer porcelain shades are translucent enough to let light glow through them. And what a lovely glow it is, too. The transformation of white porcelain when it is suddenly illuminated can only be described as magical. The light is warm, otherworldly, and it gives the fixture an unexpected sense of life.

Texture and Color

With ceramic, exactly how it feels is determined by the glaze (or the lack of one, as the case may be). As such, you can have anything from glossy and smooth to rougher matte textures that feel more like concrete or sand. When it comes to color, purists may lean toward more natural white/bisque and grey tones. But those with a more colorful bent will also be satisfied by all of the vibrant solid colors and whimsical painted patterns available.

From Perfectly Minimalist Designs…

Ceramic is well-suited to simple dome, bell or cylinder shapes. In this case, lighting maker Santa & Cole aptly states that such basic forms “use a noble, artisan and opaque material with simple, conventional concave shapes, allowing hi-tech lighting to be used without being ostentatious.”

The use of molds makes the production of such simple shapes much easier. Slipcasting is the most common method used to create ceramic lighting. Pouring liquid clay into a mold ensures even thickness throughout a shade, as well as a consistent look when producing multiples of the same design.

…To Handcrafted Sculpturality

Considering its origins, ceramic definitely appeals to designers as an avenue to artistic expression. The traditions of sculpting clay by hand–rolling, folding, draping, carving, etc.–have begun to inspire designers who appreciate the one-of-a-kind character that can result. The sculptural possibilities are pretty much endless. And adding light to the mix can only highlight the artistry even more.

Whatever your design style, ceramic lighting is the ideal way to bring an artistic element into your space. So, when you’re ready to start sculpting your perfect modern lighting scheme, be sure to check out our variety of modern ceramic lighting designs.


Nissa Hallquist

Nissa Hallquist

As the Content Marketing Manager for YDesign Group, Nissa has been writing about lighting, furniture and decor for many years. Considering that there's always something new out there, she'll likely write about them for many years more. She loves all things modern design, especially those designs that reinterpret classic forms in cool, imaginative ways. If she had her way, she'd spend all her money on such pieces (and wine).

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