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Interview with Stephen Blackman of Blackjack Lighting

Veteran lighting designer Stephen Blackman says standardization is mucking up progress.

Stephen Blackman founded Blackjack Lighting in 2013 just when decorative LED light fixtures were coming onto the scene. Several years later, Blackman’s award-winning LED fixtures for Blackjack have taken lighting design in a new, “LED like” direction.

Stephen Blackman Blackjack Lighting | YLighting
Stephen Blackman, President and Chief Design Officer of Blackjack Lighting

The President and Chief Design Officer of Blackjack Lighting has a career that spans the recent history of decorative lighting itself. His earliest designs featured European style halogen lighting, which was taking America by storm. Later, his award-winning fixtures for American Fluorescent (now AFX Inc.) presented new ideas for the CFL, at the time an unusual light source for decorative fixtures. His futuristic VELA OLED fixture for WAC Lighting won the country’s first Lighting For Tomorrow Award in the OLED category. Now Blackjack’s stunning contemporary designs present Blackman’s latest ideas for high performance LED light fixtures.


Of course, many new LED chandeliers and pendants are still lighted with LED “me too” incandescent light bulbs, with the familiar glass shapes and universal screw-in socket bases. If you didn’t know what was inside, the designs could be incandescent fixtures. Nothing much new there! Illuminating with LEDs is a step ahead in lighting technology, perhaps, but Blackman insists clinging to old standardization, however safe and comfortable, is getting in the way of design innovation. “Letting LEDs be LEDs, and finding ways to make the most of their unique attributes leads to new possibilities,” he says.

Q: Standardization getting in the way of innovation? Please explain.
SB: “Early on, I thought there should be standardization in LED lamping along the lines of what existed with incandescent light bulbs. Then I realized that being able to create our own ‘light bulbs’ to illuminate fixtures is a good thing. It’s what makes LEDs unique.”

Q: You’ve said before that the light source determines the form of the fixture. How exactly does that work?
SB: “LEDs are very tiny. But they can be combined to form many fixture shapes–almost any shape you want. My goal now is to design lighting fixtures that are “LED like” not “incandescent like.” I use the LEDs to create forms that are unique and different. I think the people who know how to put LEDs into these new shapes are the innovators.”

Q: While others were adapting from incandescents to the new technology, Blackjack was born an LED lighting company. What makes LEDs so great to work with?
SB: “Well, there are many different types of LEDs, like high-power LEDs and chip on board LEDs that are most used for commercial applications. We like to use mid-power LEDs. They can provide wide spread light distribution and require only minor heat sinking. We find pairing linear LED light strips with curved diffusers is a very efficient way to light a space. Using LEDs this way allows for interesting designs as well.”

Q: Your fixtures are designed to offer top performance in real world situations. Tell us more about that.
SB: LEDs are easy to control optically just by altering the shape of a fixture and also how light is transmitted. A number of our fixtures use mid-power LEDs within edge-lit panels of our own design. By combining a lot of LEDs, instead of point light source you get a panel light source. Your cell phone works this way. Many LEDs combine to light an entire panel. The panel is made of multiple layers of optical acrylic that improve performance. These edge lit panels are a great example of my premise: A lack of standardization in LED lighting actually that helps bring about innovation.”


Blackjack Lighting Starburst LED Chandelier | Ylighting
Starburst LED Chandelier

Blackjack’s Starburst Chandelier is well suited to a variety of applications once dominated by incandescent chandeliers. This high-tech design breaks new ground with its innovative use of optical light guides that optimize LED illumination. Located at the tip of the fixture’s arms, the faceted optical acrylic light guides are laser cut to a sharp, flat edge and coated with a special frosting. Light from tiny LEDs shines into and through the light guides and bounces off the special coating, sending bright light in a wide, even spread. When the light is turned off, the light guides become diamond-like elements on angular arms.

Blackjack Lighting Tria LED Pendant Light | YLighting
Tria LED Pendant Light

LED edge-lit panels can take many shapes and perform extremely well when directing light in one direction. Tria Pendant from Blackjack Lighting has a square edge-lit panel within a compact stainless steel form.

Blackjack Lighting Wedge LED Chandelier By Stephen Blackman | YLighting
Wedge LED Chandelier

The award-winning Wedge Chandelier from Blackjack Lighting features two rows of angled forms attached to a center ring that fill a room with up and down light. The highly efficient LED panels in these fixtures are dimmable and come with modular connectors for easy replacement, if necessary.

Blackjack Lighting Swirl LED Pendant Light By Stephen Blackman | YLighting
Swirl LED Pendant Light

Winner of three major industry awards, Swirl Pendant (US Patent D730, 561S) from Blackjack Lighting pairs mid-power LEDs with high performance acrylic diffusers for a fixture that can fill an entire room with light. Swirl’s striking luminous form is created with custom metal stamped arms that “hug” an imaginary sphere. LEDs within each arm send light through custom acrylic diffusers to create a wide, luminous distribution of light, sending low-glare illumination in all directions.

Blackjack Lighting Swirl LED Pendant in RGB| YLighting
Swirl Pendant with RGBW Color Tunable LED Linear Tape.

The Swirl Pendant can be customized with RGBW Color Tunable LED Linear Tape (2SWL-M9PL-SN-RGBW). Responding to a smartphone app, hand-held wireless controller or hard-wired wall mount controller, the RGBW linear LEDs can turn Swirl every color of the rainbow as well as true white. Another new light source option for the 23-inch Swirl is White CCT Tunable LED Tape (2SWL-M9PL-SN-CCT). Able to produce a wide range of light, this light source is adjustable from 3000K to 7000K. The light source can be controlled with an onboard switch, hand-held wireless controller or wall-mounted hardwired switch. Custom Swirl Pendants and other Blackjack Lights can be ordered through our YLighting Sales Representatives at 866.314.0965 or connect with them via our Live Chat.

For More Inspiration:

Blackjack Lighting

Blackjack Lighting

Blackjack Lighting designs and manufactures high performance decorative lighting fixtures that are “LED-like,” not “incandescent-like.” A combination of engineering expertise, design ingenuity and artistry goes into Blackjack next-generation LED chandeliers, pendants, vanities, flush mounts, wall lamps, task lamps and table lamps.

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