Artists often choose to live in softly neutral spaces with a soupçon of Zen, the better to swap new works in and out to see how they resonate and glow in a real setting. So perhaps it’s no surprise that such an approach has been embraced by lighting designer Lindsey Adelman, whose fixtures have, in the past decade, moved modern illumination into the territory of sculpture.
The living room’s sectional is by , the side table is by Jean Louis Iratzoki for , the vintage sconces are Italian, the mirror and mantel are original, and the leather Simon Hasan vase is from the . The walls are in Paper White by .
She has turned the Park Slope, Brooklyn, townhouse she recently moved to with her husband, Ian—chief creative officer at New York magazine—and their 14-year-old son, Finn, into a subtly minimal background for a revolving array of chandeliers and sconces, many of them one of a kind. Some are displayed for weeks or months; others, only a day or two.
“Changing out lighting all the time is not like rehanging paintings,” she says. “It’s amazingly complicated. You almost need to have an electrician move in with you. But for me, it’s part of my creative process. I love to see things in context, in real life—to live with them.”
Adelman at home with her son, Finn.
That Adelman, whose intensity is balanced by her big, off-kilter grin, uses her home partially as a laboratory is only one of the distinctive ways in which she runs her practice, which she opened in Brooklyn in 2006.
She is known almost as much for the unconventional work environment in her New York and Los Angeles studios and showrooms as for her poetic fixtures, which mix unconventional metals with handblown glass, including her now-iconic first collection, Branching Bubble. She encourages her 40- employees to take breaks for meditation and daydreaming, both of which she considers elemenental to true creativity. She even casts them as backup dancers in the impressionistic music videos she shoots to showcase her designs.
A vinyl-record collection belonging to Ian, who used to be a DJ, is displayed on shelving.
In recent years, Adelman has experimented with jewelry, mirrors, and porcelain tile, and she constantly coaxes her staff to cross aesthetic boundaries. “I don’t want them to feel stuck,”she says. “Making something really good is a mysterious process. You have to nurture that.”
At home, she has surrounded herself with rich and sober hues—deep blues, grays, and whites that give an unexpected twist to the home’s 1920s detailing. Friends and fellow designers assumed Adelman and her husband would gut the townhouse when they moved in. The former owners had inserted walls that threw off the symmetry, including the balance of the plaster ceiling medallions where Adelman’s chandeliers would, of course, take center stage.
In the living room, the Eames lounge chair and otto- man are by , the malachite table light is by , and the artwork is by.
But the couple decided a major redo was unnecessary. In the end, the entire renovation “cost about the price of a BDDW sectional,” Adelman says, laughing. They even kept the 1960s pink-tiled bathroom and not only the exist-ing kitchen cabinets, but the hardware as well, which they sent off to their metal plater for a vintage brass patina. “We thought the house had the perfect amount of ‘undone,’” she says. “I love a little bit of awkwardness. That’s my thing.”
A dining table is surrounded by vintage side chairs and a chair in a fabric. The Drop System chandelier is by , the candlesticks are by ., the parquet flooring is original to the house, the walls are painted in Midnight by , and the artwork is by Jared Rue.
Her newest collection, Drop System, to be introduced in April at the Salone del Mobile in Milan, consists of in nite combinations of perpendicular intersecting rods—in finishes like tarnished silver and hand-dipped mottled brass—studded in seemingly random patterns with 21⁄2-inch handblown-glass globes. Unlike traditional chandeliers, the lights creep all the way up the stem, creating the effect of a floating sculpture; the sconces are infinitely configurable and lend a gentle graphic glow, reminiscent of a backstage makeup mirror.
In the movie room, the vintage sectional is by , the leather love seat is by , the cocktail table is by , and the vintage credenza is Danish. The Cherry Bomb Fringe chandeliers are by , the curtains are from , and the rug is from . The prints are by Sol LeWitt (left) and Robert Ryman (above mantel), and the walls are in Overcoat by .
One combination of Drop now hovers over Adelman’s BDDW dining table, which is topped with a black-stained, heavily gured wood slab. A set of vintage Hans Wegner chairs lends a warm edge to the room. One of the couple’s favorite paintings, by Jared Rue, dominates the far wall.
In the kitchen’s breakfast area, the Eames table and chairs are by , the Clamp pendant is by , and the photograph is by Rachel Sussman.
Throughout the house, Adelman’s lighting lends an idio- syncratic radiance and a sense of sophisticated coziness. Her custom pieces, especially, reflect her way of working, which is far closer to that of an artist than an industrial designer. What emerges is often impressionistic. “To me,” she says, pointing to the fixture hanging from the ceiling of her son’s lounge on the third floor, “this somehow seems like Finn, attenuated and lanky and a little out of balance, yet so perfect.”
The master bed is dressed in linens, the Burst chandelier and table lamps are by , and the sconce is by . The linen curtains are by , and the rug is by .
To Adelman, a room’s purpose need not dictate the lighting that belongs there. For example, in the garden-level movie room (the TV screen is behind a curtain), which is moody and purposefully a touch louche, the ceiling is hung with branches of her Cherry Bomb Fringe, perhaps her most rarefied design, available from Milan’s Nilufar gallery.
An assortment of hand blown vases by William Gudenrath are displayed on the master bedroom’s original mantel. Reflected in the mirror are drawings by Evan Hecox and Finn.
Despite the luminous and ever-changing experimentation overhead, Adelman insists she brings into production only a tiny fraction of her ideas. “I generate them constantly,” she says. “That’s why it’s so important to have the time to dream, uninterrupted by the phone or a rendering on the computer. The ideal is for those pieces that rise to the level of being made to enter the world pure, like a craving.”
This story originally appeared in the May 2018 issue of Elle Decor.