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How Artist Niamh Barry Creates High-Concept LED Chandeliers From Bronze and Glass

The Dublin-based light designer makes bending bronze look like a conjuror’s illusion.

Niamh Barry Light Designer Nigel Swann

An led lamp may be efficient, but its output isn’t always so beautiful. In their raw form, LEDs emit a cool, often harsh glow not unlike the kind radiating from your smartphone. It takes a skilled artisan, then, to make the medium look less iPad and more sculpture.

Niamh Barry’s high-concept chandeliers are made of carefully worked bronze and glass. Together, the two materials diffuse the LEDs’ light so it’s warmer and considerably more inviting.

The design for one of Barry’s new works, Artist’s Hand, comes from a curvy sketch—easy enough to scribble in a notebook but much harder to make into a more than nine-foot-long bronze chandelier. Altogether the piece, on view next month at New York’s Salon Art + Design, takes about 600 hours to create; the result is a lithe sculpture that looks as if it’s made of molten metal. The meticulous process is informed by Barry’s three decades of experience working with bronze and light. Nothing is left to chance once construction begins. “There are always moments along the way where I stop, take stock and perhaps tweak a piece,” she says. “But the fundamentals are all set in stone from the get-go.”

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