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Enhancing Your Experience: Blurring The Lines

Karen Cakebread

Interior designers and shelter publications always are proposing ways of bringing the outdoors in. No one, it seems, has thought to do the opposite … until now. In a new product line, Italian designer Aldo Bernardi (www.aldobernardi.it) is illuminating outdoor spaces with rustic-chic lighting that’s intended to bring indoor ambience outside.

The new Shadows and Lights collection represents a logical launch for Bernardi, whose career path is evident through his range of products. The 60-year-old designer was a ceramic artist before transitioning to interior lighting. Next, he expanded into exterior and path lighting. “Aldo grew up northwest of Venice, and he lives at the base of the Dolomites, an area known for metals, ceramics, and glass,” says Carol Lengkeek-Ollier, president of Ollier Distributors, the North American distributor for Bernardi. “He incorporated all this into the designs. The light fixtures are made from local materials.”

Bernardi’s company is located in Paderno del Grappa, a small town in an area known for traditional cottage industries. He lives in a 200-year-old stone farmhouse and works alongside his wife, sister, and various local artisans to create most of his company’s brass and copper outdoor lighting fixtures. Over time, those metals oxidize when they’re exposed to the outdoor elements, and they gradually take on a warm, burnished brown or turquoise green color. Bernardi jumpstarts the oxidation process in his workshop, then coats the metal with a beeswax finish that stabilizes the aging process. Once the lights are installed outside, the oxidation resumes and the patina gradually changes and softens. “It’s a living finish, lustrous and rich,” says Lengkeek-Ollier. “It continues to adapt to the environment, and it gets richer over time, like a wood floor.”

Aldo Bernardi’s Shadows and Lights product line debuts in the United States this season, and the pieces found therein are available to the trade through showrooms in cities throughout the United States (for locations, see www.carolollier.com). The new collection includes movable and stationary lighting in various shapes and sizes, but the line also extends to architectural structures for the outdoors—gazebos, pergolas, trellises, dividing walls, and even tunnels—crafted from antiqued brass tubing and outfitted with integrated lighting. The structures are meant to be overgrown with vines, so that they form shady nooks or define outdoor spaces, thus becoming true “living rooms.”

The Twilight floor lamp shown here ($7,750) is intended specifically for outdoor use, though it has a style that would make it appear right at home in a living room or dining room. The stand is made of aged brass tubing and copper, and the lampshade is of translucent methacrylate. The lamp has a round base so it can be moved around, or it can be anchored to the ground with additional hardware. In addition, the stand can serve as a base for vines or other climbing plants.

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