Trend Report: Captivating Ceilings
On a recent trip to Italy and France with my sister, we spent hours making our way through luxury European palaces, galleries, museums and historic churches.
While the walls are generally adorned with ancient art and textured tapestries, one thing you must always do in these spaces is look up.
Oh, those ceilings… those captivating ceilings!
High church ceilings rich with coloured paintings and, of course the historic carved ceilings featuring ornate and floral-inspired designs in luxury gold and bronze accents. Then there are the stained glass windows that powerfully celebrate culture, history and colour drenching these beautiful spaces with natural light.
Think Palazzo Ducale in Venice (also known as Doge’s Palace), a gothic architecture masterpiece built in the 14th and 15th century. The ceiling of the Chamber of the Great Council is colourfully adorned with the Virtues and individual examples of Venetian heroism, and a central panel containing an allegorical glorification of the Republic. It’s quite breathtaking.
Then there is the vaulted blue and gold ceiling of the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris. The blue ceiling features a striking star pattern that meets with gold beams, chandelier lighting and stained glass walls.
So it’s a beautiful picture, right? However, it did get me thinking about how modern ceilings have lost their lustre.
A return to minimalism has seen many spaces opt for white, neutral ceilings with decorating left to furniture, walls and floors.
For centuries, ceilings were designed to cover up work and then we saw a resurgence of ceiling exposure where electrical wires, lighting fixtures and overhead beams became visible offering an industrial aesthetic.
So in a bid to return to the decorative ceilings of times past, I introduce you to the Lightboys®. Founded in 2010 by the designer Jirko Banna, the firm create and produce innovative lighting systems in Germany.
I had the pleasure of meeting the Lightboys at Maison&Objet Paris, and was fascinated with a product they call Rooftop Lights.
The product was informed by an “almost forgotten tradition of the classical ceiling painters” and sees LED technology and photographic art combine to transform basic ceilings into amazing ones.
“In architecture and interior design, the ceiling is usually being neglected,” said Philipp Baumgaertel managing director of Lightboys. “Usually, there is some moulding or a greatly designed light, but that’s it.
“We thought that it would be wonderful to integrate the great frescos or painted skies from the past into our everyday lives through a modern technology, which is LED.”
The Rooftop Light is effectively a large-format illuminated photograph mounted on an ultra-light housing only 40mm in thickness. They can be “varnished within the ceiling” or hover freely within a room. Imagine sleeping under a ceiling that reflected that of the Galleria Vittoria Emanuel II in Milan. (You can).
Lightboys ask customers to be adventurous in their design in order to achieve a fourth dimension to their room.
“Our Rooftop Lights are always custom made,” said Baumgaertel. “As our clients usually have their own ideas and every ceiling is unique, we try to play “ping-pong” with them. They pass over their desires, we return ideas, and so on.”
“The frame is made from anodized aluminum and is powder coated in a RAL-Classic color code,” said Baumgaertel. “We use Osram LED technology of different intensity levels and every frame is made in Germany.”
“The print is made from a silk like material and can be changed,” he added. “For example, if you suddenly didn’t like Michelangelo anymore.”
However, the core of the product’s success is the quality of the images. “We use super-high resolution cameras so we can offer multi-million (sometimes billion) pixel,” he said.
Baumgaertel explains it as “opening windows in all kind of rooms”.
“…It’s a very, very unique experience standing underneath a Rooftop Light,” he said. The LED gives the photograph an important ingredient it had when it was made – light. It’s phenomenal!”
Lightboys have been capturing the attention from architects and designers since their launch. They have begun integrating the luminary creations for clients. The team are seeing a demand now for the lighting technology in modern luxury hotels, yachts and also for their private apartments.
So whether it’s a starry night, blue skies or perhaps looking up at your favourite architecture, Rooftop Lights are a product well worth exploring.
Let’s lift our gaze and bring the captivating ceiling back ~ Angela