To some, the word chandelier might evoke visions of a glimmering, multi-branch gilded antique piece like the one hanging in the ballroom in Beauty and the Beast. Or it may be reminiscent of the light fixtures dripping in Swarovski crystals at the Baccarat Hotel in New York City. But just as dressers and chairs have evolved over time, modern chandeliers look nothing like their traditional counterparts.
In fact, modern chandeliers vary wildly in style and texture. No longer limited to shiny brass and cascading crystals, they feature unexpected materials like plaster, blown glass, paper, wood, and even crochet. Style-wise, they range from mid-century to futuristic and from daintily retro to angular and minimalistic. Truth be told, the only thing that ties them together in the same lighting category is their generous size or multi-light features that make them suitable for making a statement over a dining room table or in a dramatic staircase.
Are you in the market for a new fixture to disrupt your home’s lighting plan? We outline all the various modern chandelier types you might want to consider—from simple LED solutions to over-the-top floral masterpieces.
This type of chandelier comes in a variety of shapes: circular, hexagonal, or triangular, and uses anything from traditional incandescent bulbs to LED technology. The one thing they all have in common: They’re bold, angular (or circular), and make a contemporary statement wherever they’re hung.
Using floral motifs in a chandelier is not a new art form, but modern lighting designers are approaching the use of botanicals in a fresh new way: Florals are no longer simply a decorative accent to the light fixture—they are the light fixture. Seen in materials ranging from plaster to burnished brass and bold chrome, they’d give any room a romantic but modern perspective.
At the very opposite end of the spectrum from ornate floral chandeliers is ultra-minimalist linear lighting. The ones that are longer than they are large can be perfectly suited to a long rectangular dining table or kitchen counter. Other chandeliers with multiple branches are more sculptural and can work beautifully in large spaces with high ceilings.
Inspired by the famed Noguchi paper lanterns, these contemporary lanterns range from ultra-minimalist to ornate and decorative. Dimorestudio’s Lampada light is the perfect example of the vintage-inspired lighting that’s making its way back into modern design. While its shade boasts a traditional floral pattern, its shape is decidedly modern.
When we think of mid-century style, we’re often referring to the 1950s-influenced teak chairs and dressers that are making their way into most modern furniture stores, but the era has so much more to offer in terms of design. For instance, mid-century lighting by famed designers like Poul Henningsen and Jean Royère still feel relevant today, and many more designers are drawing inspiration from this era in lighting.
Crochet has been trending in fashion and decor in recent years—just think of wall hangings for the most obvious example—and one of the best ways to showcase this organic weaving method is by (literally) shining a light through it. High-end designers and mass retailers alike are adopting crochet in lighting—creating beautiful organic shapes and visually captivating chandeliers in the process.
Worlds away from the crochet look, a slew of futuristic-looking fixtures are also seeing the light in the design sphere. Whether a multi-arm alien-looking chandelier, a breezy fiberglass sculptural light fixture, or a colorful blown-glass piece, there are multiple renditions of this trend, but all signs point to cool abstract shapes and daring colors.
Perhaps the most obvious choice when we think of modern chandeliers, globe lighting is dominating the market—whether it’s Lindsey Adelman’s Branching Bubbles collection or mid-century–inspired, Sputnik-like globe iterations. But there’s another type of ethereal lighting that’s making waves in the design world: cloud chandeliers that appear to be floating in air.
Made of ceramic, precious stones, plaster, or fine silk, designers such as Apparatus Studio and Eric Roinestad, which specialize in organic-looking chandeliers, draw inspiration from undulating forms in nature or unprocessed materials to create intricate shapes using unique textures and time-tested crafting methods. The result is a variation of beautiful chandeliers that all look wildly different from each other but feel timeless and elegant.
LED chandeliers can take many of the forms and styles mentioned above, but they’re distinct because they use a new lighting technology that’s much more sustainable than incandescent bulbs. Most often, though, LED chandeliers are arranged in linear and circular shapes due to their form, which often consists of strips of tiny lights.