What do You Collect?

I am pretty sure most of us like to collect something. Perhaps its vinyl, volcanic rocks or paint colour charts? Well, I have to admit that I am a serial lighting collector. It’s not a fad, no, no, it’s taken thirty years to get this far and although it may seem rather extravagant I would sooner shuffle around in a pair ancient clogs (actually I do) if it means I have more to spend on lighting.

In my mind a classic is only a classic if it stays with me occupying my thoughts year on year. It should have a presence and charisma that adds energy to a space. It should also be practical and perform an excellent job. It should have a story behind it and it will often be inspired from something ordinary that has given the designer that initial spark. It should be well made, crafted and every detail tweaked.

Take Achille Castiglioni  who along with his brother Pier designed the iconic Arco floor light in 1962 after being inspired by the every day street lamp. Arco is a practical solution to allow overhead light in a room without the hassle of wiring a ceiling. But it isn’t just practical. The heavy Carrera marble base stabilises the long slender arm that sweeps up and out into the room. And the circular holes in the stainless steel shade allows the heat from the bulb to dissipate but also sends beautiful soft smudgy circular shadows up onto the ceiling. A well thought out solution to an every day need. Perfect.

All the lights I have bought over the years still give me immense pleasure. What’s more they still do their job and I haven’t ‘gone off’ any of them. And when a part does eventually perish, they can be repaired – not thrown out! I have two Fresnel lights designed by Joe Colombo in 1966 lighting up my front door. Lately a rubber seal preventing rain water from getting inside the fitting perished. I contacted the manufacturer, Oluce, they e mail me a diagram of parts, I identify the little piece I needed and it arrives shortly afterward through the post and my light is set for another decade of Scottish weather. That’s how it should be. My lights may have been fairly expensive but they don’t need replacing so actually it’s not such a bad habit after all…

What do you collect?

12 thoughts on “What do You Collect?

  1. I have a very old-fashioned collection: miniature bits & bobs for my printers’ tray. I bought a Victorian wooden printers’ tray years ago that I have on my bedroom wall, collecting dust and tiny finds from near and far: dinky Indonesian decorative spoons, a silver whale from Newfoundland, painted Victorian-era soldiers, complete with dead-sharp bayonets. That kind of thing. You have reminded me that I need to add to it, as well as dust it! PS I have always loved your Arco light but I don’t have the space for it (as you know). It’s a lovely functional sculpture. And JK’s collection is ace! Double and, great looking image gallery!


    • I like the sound of miniature bits and bobs – a great way to remember places and people. It’s like opening the Christmas Dec box and thinking about where each decoration came from. A silver whale from Newfoundland sounds lovely, have you been there?


  2. Your lighting collection sounds wonderful, I must confess I am really bad with the lighting in our house, lighting is a bit of a mystery to me I never seem to get the effect I want. My own collections are quite eclectic, textiles, dried plants, pebbles, driftwood, I am just a keeper of things that inspire me in some way.


    • Lovely, I can just imagine you beach combing and collecting natural things that inspire you. I collect things like that too (lots & lots of pebbles, I cant resist them). I think your art reflects your collections of curiosities.

      Lots of people say they are baffled with lighting, I am lucky in that I specified lights for many years so I could see the dramatic effects they could have when used properly. I think you can totally transform a space on so many different levels when the lighting is thought out carefully. I am also fascinated in the Italian post war era when traditional skills were used in conjunction with new industrial techniques which allowed designers to create stunning lighting which really helped light the gloomy post war mood. It seemed nothing was impossible and so many fabulous designed were spawned then.


  3. Are those really all your lights?! Wow!

    I’ve been collecting glass fishing floats for a couple of years. They’re just decorative now, but they were originally used by fishermen to hold up their nets. I think they’re beautiful and fascinating, especially the ones that have lots of bubbles and frosting from being sandblasted on the beaches where they landed. Holding one in your hand is like holding a piece of history. It amazes me that these pieces of glass survived years of being tossed about the ocean and traveled thousands of miles without breaking.


    • Hi Kelly, I have to admit they are! (but I don’t ‘do’ handbags, shoes etc….!)

      Ooh, your glass fishing floats must make a stunning collection. I know exactly what they are as I knew someone who collected them and I agree the ones with little imperfections in the glass are the most beautiful. I also love your comment about handling them and almost drifting into an amazing world of adventures while you contemplate their history. If I remember correctly, I think they are often lovely blues and greens (to emulate the sea?) so I can see exactly why you would like them. I wonder where yours have drifted from, Japan? I hope you blog about them one day?


  4. I’m impressed with your light collection, Niki! Perhaps I’ll begin to get an education on lighting as well as color, reading your blog! I’m not sure I actually collect anything in particular except maybe my rather extensive stash of stones and pearls. I suppose making them a business expense gives me freedom to (over) indulge. Which I do…


    • I know, its rather a big collection now! 🙂 Mm, a stash of stones and pearls, lovely and I bet each one will have special characteristics that drew you to it. Talking of which, I think I will pop over to see your etsy shop right now 🙂


  5. I have always been attracted but intimidated with lighting. Where I’ll use it or trying to install it. I took the plunge this weekend and ended up buying a mid-century Sputnick fixture from the estate sale of an eccentric 104 year old woman. All went well installing it and what a transformation it’s made to our entryway!


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