Light ’em UpNew York-based Niche Modern adds a touch of five-star glamour to everyday living spaces — or beyond

Let’s play word association. “Chandelier.” What comes to mind? For many of us it’s either a wrought iron monstrosity lit with dripping candles, best suited to a gothic Henry James psychological horror story, which is not such a bad thing. In many cases it’s the image of a chintzy coloured glass debacle, swinging in a casino lobby or, worse yet, a neo-Versailles “luxury” housing development that also boasts gold lame in the bathroom. Monstrosities of another order altogether.

But chandeliers can also be gracefully simple in design and function — a complement to contemporary design, not a distraction. As frequently as they are the ultimate in tacky they can be an elegant accent. New Yorkbased Niche Modern is on a mission to redefine the chandelier — and every other hanging lamp fixture out there. Founded by husband and wife duo Jeremy and Mary Pyles, Niche Modern began its business as a straight-ahead design firm. When the Pyles’ realised their hand blown glass lighting was their best seller they turned their attention to that particular item full time. In the few years they’ve been open for business (Niche was established in 2003) they’ve found their glasswares hanging in locations like the Ritz- Carlton in Manhattan and the W in Hong Kong. You can browse Niche’s catalogue online or drop into its exclusive retailer in Hong Kong, Kitchens + Interiors in Central.

People have been blowing glass since the 1st century BC to both artistic and functional ends, and hand-blown glass has always been something of a luxury. Niche Modern has put just enough of a modern spin on the concept to ensure their pendant lamps and, of course, chandeliers will fit in with most interiors. Adding to the unique design is the vintage filament bulb Niche uses — but not so vintage you can’t find replacements.

Niche’s lamps comes in 14 different shapes (among them the M&M-shaped Aurora, the vaguely futuristic Stargazer, the cartouchelike Pharos and the geometric Bell-Jar) — though the hand blowing process makes it so no two are truly identical — in six finishes and nine colours. There’s a hue to match every room in the house and every mood you’re looking to evoke: warm and possibly hunger-inducing amber and chocolate for dining rooms; clear crystal for home offices; moody plum or crimson for home lounges or bars. Try hard enough and you may be able to reproduce a decadent Studio 54 vibe if that’s your thing (disco ball not included). The pendant lamps are hung individually, so if you have a preference for an evenly placed line over a distinctly mismatched cluster there’s nothing stopping you from realising either one.

On the chandelier front the key is customisation. Chandeliers can be individualised by shape, colour and finish for the space they will ultimately hang in. The Quill 5 is a modern spin on that old wrought iron, and features a fundamental design flexible enough to be sleek or kitschy cool. The multipendant model is just that — a pendant lamp of your choice attached to a single canopy. Do you want two dangling lights, or five? Nine? Five of the same shape or five different ones? With the exception of installing Niche Modern’s lamps on the terrace (they’re designed for indoor use), there are no rules to live by. And just think: the chances of any dangly bits hitting your guests in the head just dropped to zero.