John Bullock Lighting Design
John Bullock Lighting Design
Lighting Product DesignLighting Product Design
Heritage Lighting ProjectsHeritage Lighting Projects
Home Lighting ProjectsHome Lighting Projects
Exhibitions Lighting ProjectsExhibitions Lighting Projects
Leisure Lighting ProjectsLeisure Lighting Projects
Exterior Lighting ProjectsExterior Lighting Projects
Commercial Lighting ProjectsCommercial Lighting Projects

When is a chandelier not a pendant? When its a lantern!


Dictionary definitions first:

Chandelier: a large, decorative hanging light with branches for several light bulbs or candles.

Pendant: a lone light fixture that hangs from the ceiling usually suspended by a cord, chain, or metal rod

Lantern: a lamp with a transparent case protecting the flame or electric bulb, and typically having a handle by which it may be carried or hung.

Sounds reasonable, yes? So why all the fuss, then?

After years of client conversations that start with: “I’d like you to imagine . . . “ I’ve reached the point where I really need to harden-up on my descriptions of light fittings. I suppose if all you’re specifying is downlights, then there’s not much to talk about . . . not even the design. But once you enter the Realm of the Decorative then we need to be clear on our vocabulary. Careless talk costs clients!

I’ve decided – and feel free to join me in this or not – to use three group terms for light fittings that suspend from the ceiling and the three words are what you see above. Developing the argument a bit further, here is where I’m going:




Chandelier: if it’s a fixture with more than one light source that are defined by a number of supporting branches, then it’s a chandelier – regardless of what its made from or how trad or contemporary the beast may be. And, yes, I'm calling this cluster of light bulbs as a chandelier, since you ask.

Image lifted from Cralux Lighting - whoever you are . . .



Pendant: this is a trickier proposition because pendant also acts as a verb that describes anything hanging down. But I’ve decided that a pendant is really a suspended light fitting from which light is directed, usually downwards; and usually made of metal, though not always. That means that a lot of modern pieces, starting around the time of Poul Henningsen, probably, count as pendants.


Yes: the ultimate modern classic: PH5 from Louis Poulsen





Lanterns: and this one I’m reclaiming from the dustbin of history because its too useful not to have in the lexicon. The real clue here is in that definition. Its about a light source being surrounded by a translucent case that stops the flame from being blown out. In other words, you can’t see the light source – and there’s probably only one in there, but there may be two or three, but the ‘casing’ doesn’t affect the light distribution. This is an Inverse Square Law piece if ever there was one.

The 'Havana' from Foscarini - lovely!






And there we have it. It’ll probably turn out not to be as tidy as it seems at the moment, but we’ll see how it goes.



RIBA CPD in 2015

Here are the links to my event calendars



John Bullock Lighting Design
4 Miller Way

Website designed by Alacrify