Ceilings with a story: The history of the chandelier

Luxury lighting designs have come a long way since their humble medieval beginnings. From candles to LEDs, wooden frames to ornate gilding, the chandelier’s appearance may have evolved with time but its classification as a distinctive luxury item has remained intact throughout the centuries. 

At the Luxury Lighting Boutique, we count it an honour to keep this long-standing, cultural object a part of our 21st century world. We do this by paying homage to the artistry that has come before us, whilst also making use of the modern techniques and designs that aid useability and create brand new styles for more people to fall in love with. 

We love that our ceilings have many stories to tell, so let’s look at what came before and what was built upon to bring us where we are today in the realm of chandelier design. 

Portable chandeliers

church portable chandelier

Chandeliers make their first appearance in European history as far back as the end of the 9th century AD. Used in churches, castles, and royal palaces, the wooden lighting fixture was mounted to a beam with rope and was adorned by good quality candles (which allowed them to be considered as a luxury item). Using the rope, the chandelier could be moved up and down to light and diffuse the candles, as well as completely detached and moved from one room to another whenever needed. 

Neoclassical influence

candle chandelier

As time progresses, so do production techniques, and by the 15th century highly ornate gold gilded chandeliers had become an absolute essential item within the residences of wealthy nobility (who were the only group of people able to purchase them). However, the accessibility of the chandelier began to grow in the following centuries as people began fashioning them out of wrought iron and tin as a substitute for some of the expensive materials.

By the early 18th century, ornate chandeliers with long, curved arms and many candles became very popular in the homes of the growing merchant class. Neoclassical motifs became an increasingly common element as well, drawing heavily on the aesthetic of ancient Greece and Rome with the incorporation of clean lines, classical proportions, and mythological creatures.

Later on, developments in glassmaking allowed cheaper production of lead crystal, the light scattering properties of which quickly made it a popular addition to the form.

New lighting systems

electric chandeliers

By the mid-19th century, gas lighting had begun to really catch on, causing branched ceiling fixtures called ‘gasoliers’ to be steadily produced. By the 1890s, however, the electric light appeared, which changed the game even further. As the distribution of electricity widened, and supplies became increasingly dependable, electric-only chandeliers became the standard, with many older models of chandeliers being converted to this new lighting system. 

Chandeliers in a modern world

In the late 20th century, the classic chandelier actually fell out of favour in some design circles, due to the fact that it was not considered compatible with the growing minimalist trend. However, over the past few decades we have been delighted to see somewhat of a revival of interest around chandeliers amongst the general public as well as designers. As a team, we have noticed a great trend of traditional, crystal chandeliers being placed in contemporary, modern settings in order to create a beautiful juxtaposition between the old and the new. 

Furthermore, with a vast amount of modern designs and styles of chandelier available by amazing brands such as LUXXU, Illuminati Lighting, Joe Scog, and Hudson Valley, we truly do live in a wonderfully versatile age when it comes to choosing a chandelier for your home or workplace. There are so many chandelier options available to suit every need and requirement (plus, you no longer need to be royalty to own one!).  

Struggling to find the right luxury lighting piece for your space?

The Luxury Lighting Boutique team has an incredible amount of expertise when it comes to finding the right lighting design to enhance any space. 

Whether you’ve seen a chandelier you like that you would like customised to better fit your needs, or you’ve simply got questions that you need answers to, book an appointment to visit our Stockbridge showroom or contact us through the information below and we’ll be happy to assist you in whatever way we can. 

Email: connect@luxurylightingboutique.com
Call: 0131 226 2255 

Visit: 17 North West Circus Place,