The Quest For Light

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Larry Lieberman is a lover of the light and he’s letting it shine through his sculptured, sometimes edible, custom pieces. image: bruce soyez-bernard

A cozy sofa, a pile of pillows and a plush area rug does not a comfortable room make. At least not without the right lighting plan, that is. Proper lighting can highlight a room’s best features or even be one of them, eliminate shadows or create them and perhaps most importantly, dictate ambience like few other design elements can. Larry Lieberman, founder and owner of Vision Quest Lighting in Ronkonkoma, one of the largest custom lighting manufacturers in the country, has made it his goal to create lighting that’s functional and beautiful, but also to spread the power of light.

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What are the elements of a good lighting plan?
It really depends on the room. In a kitchen, we have to think about task lighting and the color of the light. If your kitchen was under fluorescent light, the food probably wouldn’t look so appetizing. If the room is a home theater, you want very indirect lighting because any direct lighting will catch the eye and interfere with the experience. In a living space, it’s all about layering. In my own living room I have table lamps, high-hats and indirect lighting. And they’re all on separate switches so the light can be layered. It’s really important to take into consideration the activity going into the room, the feeling you’re trying to get out of it and the illumination level. Having only one light source will create lots of shadows.

Which styles are popular for custom pieces?
Overall, people are starting to accept new shapes for their lights. What I mean by that is I’m seeing more fixture designs that take advantage of the fact that LED lights are small. People are designing around the LED. Large ring-style chandeliers are really popular right now and they didn’t exist before LEDs because there would have been no easy way to light them. More people are also asking for different metals like antique bronze and brass, as well as incorporating wood into the design.

Are there rules to choosing finishes?
No, because now finishes are all over the place. Every furniture manufacturer is developing unique finishes and chasing down a new way of doing something. It’s almost all about coming up with a unique finish. And it’s a craft, the more unique the finish, the more unique the product. Right now, black and steel are very popular, as well as antique brass.

In residential design, which rooms are people most often requesting custom lighting for?
Custom lighting is expensive. Usually the work we do are statement pieces in an entryway or a fixture above a dining room table. It’s always going to be something special. The stuff we’re doing for residential is with people who are looking to push technology. They use custom LEDs to do something that was never done before. The rest of our clientele are homeowners who need something that fits a certain area and they couldn’t find anything. In those instances the lights we design aren’t necessarily something crazy, it just has to fit the space.

Do the trends in commercial and residential lighting align?
In commercial design, everything seems to be moving toward black and gold, modern pieces with sleek, simple lines. Traditional chandeliers are over. There’s a lot of rings and a lot of round lighting, similar to residential. The investment is in taking advantage of slick, small designs.

How do you ensure a timeless design?
It’s almost like picking a tattoo. You have to think a little bigger than the way you’re feeling at that moment. If you’re talking about classic design, the simpler it is, the most timeless it is. Also, if you are going to invest in a custom chandelier, you want to make sure the technology is repairable. It’s very easy to buy something and then something goes wrong five years later and there’s no way to fix it.