Gareth Devonald Smith’s Funky New Lollipop Chandelier for Porta Romana

Given that "Porta Romana" loosely translates as "Roman Gate," one might expect the principals of this 20 years-young atelier to have names like "Giuseppe Garibaldi," or "Luigi di Pirandello," rather than the distinctly British-sounding Andrew and Sarah Hills, Lee Robinson, Alison Milarn, and Simon Chapman. But then, this UK manufacturer is known for its eclectic bent—a tendency to embrace varied design philosophies, to imbue the challenges of the future with "a passion for the past," to " evolve constantly while remaining beyond fashion." So the implication of a synthesis of cultures is really just de rigueur...

Lollipop Chandelier. Designed by Gareth Devonald for Porta Romana.

To the contrary, PR's intriguing, engaging, and slightly bizarre Lollipop Chandelier is anything but run of the mill, even for them. Designed by Gareth Devonald Smith, this post-modern suspension lamp is constructed of a central axis of scratched gold, from which emerges a network of sprouting stems to produce (like so many eager seedlings) the teeming congregation of appended "lollipops," or individually-shaded micro-lamps, that give the piece its name. And in all truth, these little lamps have a greater resemblance to "push-ups"—the multi-colored cylindrical popsicles of my youth—than any traditional lollipop, but that doesn't make the name any less resonant.


To the contrary, the whimsical re-invention of a somewhat mundane concept profits from this hip retro association, since "Lollipop" is clearly trafficking in formal re-invention. Rather like the Picasso of "Les Demoiselles D'Avignon," or the Tim Burton of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Porta Romana's Lollipop pinpoints something essential about the concept—a pared-down form one could only characterize as "Lollipop-ness"—and parlays this into an imaginative and whimsical lightpiece that invests contemporary design with a bit of irreverence, not to mention a humorous hearkening back to youth. And sometimes that's just the ticket.

Posted September 10, 2009 by Joseph Starr

Leave a Reply