I must confess I’m immediately smitten with the Urban Electric Company, a designer and manufacturer of luxury lighting products for both commercial and residential applications. The firm’s intrinsic allure is owed to the company name, locale, and—strangely enough—the immensely convenient pdf of their specs key for product finish codes, though not necessarily in that order. Electric Company, as you may not remember or even never have known, was the name of a raucous kid’s tv show in the 70s, on which the stentorian Morgan Freeman got his start, and for which I retain an abiding affection.
King’s Road. Designed by Electric Company.
Charleston, SC (UEC is technically in North Charleston but really it’s just across the river) is an architectural and cultural jewel of a city (and home to Victoria & Albert, manufacturers of the recent Sorrento Tub). The UEC’s specs key, which at first glance looks like a list of state abbreviations, is in fact an efficient coding system designed to elucidate the company’s comprehensive range of fixture finishes. I love the latter because it thwarts what I like to call “minimalist website dysfunction.” By giving the curious client more information rather than less (or none), Urban Electric Company makes their products far more accessible. Just the thing for authentic appreciation of a work of illuminating art like the King’s Road Pendant Lamp.
Here’s the list of finishes for the aforementioned piece: “Standard: AB, BC, BL, BP, BZ, DC, HB, RC, WH; Premium: AB, DG, GT, PT, SB, VN, ZC.” Not the lesser-known of the Canadian provinces, but in fact an impressive array of adornment from Antique Brass, to Blackened Pewter, to Seaside Bronze, and all the way down to Zinc, with many more in between. Numerous aesthetic options would appear to be a high priority at UEC, and who can blame them? If I were capable of conceiving and executing a fixture as sexy as King’s Road (designed by Richard Mishaan), I too would wish to outfit it in as many guises as possible.
The notion of disguise is apropos of this particular fixture, which manages to conceal and advertise itself in one fell swoop. Consisting of a pendulous bulb surrounded on six sides by (appropriately) a six inch square canopy, King’s Road synthesizes the circular and geometric via the six round cutouts that display the light source from every angle. The result is an intriguing play between substance and negative space, between showcasing and hiding from view, and, foremost, between light and its assorted reflections and illusions.