Former entertainment lawyer-turned-lighting designer Michael McHale creates chandeliers that are as much about structure as they are shimmering crystal. Born from the seeds of a DIY project, Michael McHale Designs is drafting a new vision for the chandelier, utilizing such rough and ready materials as patinated brass pipes and fittings, refrigerator bulbs, and appliance tubing in concert with the finest crystal available. The effect is at once jarring and oddly beautiful.
Cool Hunting had an opportunity to ask McHale about his unique approach to lighting design and where his business is headed.
What lead you from practicing law to designing chandeliers, of all objects?
Complete serendipity. I doubt that, before a few years ago, I had ever devoted one thought to chandeliers one way or the other. It's funny how life unfolds. I walked into a design store a few years ago to buy a nice light fixture for my home and I thought that what they had looked a bit cheap, a bit flashy and they didn't seem to be about anything. I left the store with the same feeling you get when you see a bad movie, "I could have done a better job than that!" So it all started as a craft project that turned out to be infinitely more interesting than I could have imagined.
The blend of common building materials with glitzy crystal is a rather unique approach to the traditional chandelier, an object historically viewed as a status symbol. Was this a conscious choice to subvert the classical typology, or more a decision based on practicality?
Both. The original decision on materials was made because those materials were what was available to me. I didn't have access to a factory and I didn't weld. Once the first piece was made I realized that I had created something far more interesting than I had planned. Contrast turned out to be the point. The piece used these very common materials which normally reside in the service areas of our built environment, and which we are trained to ignore. Celebrating those materials in something like a chandelier ended up being a really interesting and powerful provocation to our conventional ideas of beauty and status.
Complete interview and another image after the jump.