mastering modern alabaster lighting: stephen downes

modern alabaster lighting Stephen Downes

Modern alabaster lighting is perfect for today’s high-end contemporary living, although traditionally, it’s more associated with Art Deco.

Recently, I visited NYC Jewish Museum’s show on the work of 20th century icon Pierre Chareau. This inspired me to look into options of modern alabaster lighting for one of my current projects. Pierre Chareau was the creator of magnificent architectural lighting that used alabaster in deliciously modern forms. Many of his lights are now style icons with prices soaring into the $100,000s of dollars for his most coveted works. They’re not always in the cards for all my clients, so equally chic alternatives must be found.


modern alabaster lighting Stephen Downes sconce

My search led me to a really talented artist and to old friends. While doing my research into modern alabaster lighting I came across the work of Stephen Downes. The lighting he produces at his workshop in Garnerville, NY draws heavily on the works of Chareau and Albert Cheuret. Downes takes alabaster, stone, metal and wood to create chic and elegant lighting.  They perfectly meld with my design aesthetic. And it appears that my old friends at Maison Gerard had a hand in encouraging this budding lighting designer. Downes credits the repair of a Cheuret lamp for Gerard Widdershoven to his now successful career in modern alabaster lighting!


modern alabaster lighting Stephen Downes table lamp

Alabaster has been used in lighting for centuries because of the translucent nature of the stone.  It’s also easy to carve and shape into various forms.  I love the simplicity of Downes’ Moon sconces (above image). A beautiful disk of alabaster paired with a simple and elegant patinated steel bracket, allows soft light to filter through the natural fissures of the stone. Similarly, his charming Facet table lamp (above image) gives a modern and organic touch to a room. And for those who want something a little more shapely and constructed, Downe’s Copiaco standing lamp (following images) and Seed table lamps (last image) couple natural materials with contemporary design to create luxurious modern alabaster lighting.


modern alabaster lighting Stephen Downes floor lamp

One thing I champion is the need to nurture and promote today’s designers; to give them a platform for their talents to develop.  I am so thrilled to see that Maison Gerard leads this movement and that Stephen Downes is one of their contemporary designers. When I visit Maison Gerard’s gallery in Manhattan or their booth at any of the fairs they participate in, one gets a good sense of the continuity of modern design. There, pieces approaching a century old are shown together with modern designs fresh from the creator’s mind. New and old play off one another and the overall effect is a harmonious symphony carefully curated by both Gerard and Benoist.


modern alabaster lighting Stephen Downes floor lamp detail

En hora buena to Stephen Downes and Maison Gerard. I just found an incredibly reliable and beautiful source for modern alabaster lighting.


modern alabaster lighting Stephen Downes table lamps

Richard Rabel is a New York Interior Designer and Principal at Richard Rabel Interiors+ Art Ltd., a studio offering residential design, decorating and art advising.

image credits: modern alabaster lighting: Maison Gerard, New York.