Now here’s a bright idea: Toronto artist Lonny Doherty has taken his paintings of nature and turned them into eye-catching lampshades that illuminate interiors with glimpses of the great outdoors.
“I think it was a subliminal desire on my part to have nature with me wherever I go,” Mr. Doherty, a soft-spoken painter who grew up on the shores of Lake Huron, says.
“Surrounding myself with my nature paintings was one way of staying connected.”
As the chief designer of Lumiscapes, the nature-inspired lighting fixtures company he launched out of his Toronto home studio earlier this year, Mr. Doherty has created a home accessory that is its own work of art.
Mr. Doherty fashions the shades from among his many paintings of the Canadian wilderness, magnifying a particular detail to create an all-over abstract pattern of colour and shape.
Winnipeg-born, Toronto-based artist Madeleine Lamont thinks he’s onto something.
“Art and artists have always had a strong influence on fashion, interior design and product and industrial design and vice versa. I think it a natural extension of the creative process to play around with other mediums,” Ms. Lamont says.
“Picasso did his ceramics while Andy Warhol was all about the relationship between art and pop culture. I don’t think there should be any boundaries to the creative process.”
What started out as a personal project to decorate the 1920s East York semi Mr. Doherty, a certified interior designer, gutted and rebuilt from scratch, has quickly grown into to an in-demand home accessories brand. Lighting manufacturing firm Barbican recently inked a deal with Mr. Doherty to rep Lumiscapes to its five-star hospitality clients in Europe and North America.
Barbican will produce the fixtures and shades at its plant near Buffalo, N.Y.
The company is introducing Lumiscapes to other potential buyers at NeoCon World Trade Fair taking place in Chicago, this month.
“We’re excited to be able to bring Lumiscapes by Barbican to the commercial design market,” Steven Geiger, Barbican’s vice-president of sales, says.
“Lonny Doherty is a talented Canadian landscape artist and interior designer. We are thrilled to be partnering with him to bring his vision to light for the commercial design world.”
Mr. Doherty is also enthused by the relationship, seeing it as an opportunity to get his work seen – and experienced – by greater numbers of people.
“As a painter, I can do a single work of art for someone to hang on their wall for their own enjoyment.
“But if that same painting is printed onto light fixtures sold in multiples as they might be for a hotel then that art work can be enjoyed by hundreds at once. That’s very satisfying for me,” Mr. Doherty says.
“My goal is for more people to bring nature into their interior lives.”
So-called eco-design is a growing design trend and Mr. Doherty’s lighting fixtures fit right in.
“Some of the artwork made into large scale lighting is reminiscent of Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven,” comments Canadian interior designer Kate Thornley-Hall, who similarly borrows imagery from visual art for her own eponymous line of floor coverings.
“I can see some of the Lumiscapes fixtures looking incredible in a high ceiling-ed, glass fronted Georgian Bay cottage, looking out to stormy seas.
“They would also look fab in a residential space that cries out for an addition of vibrant colour. I could see using it in a really contemporary space where the light fixture becomes the main piece of the room.”
Rustic chic, a back-to-the-earth design movement, is gaining momentum thanks to wood, stone and other raw materials making a comeback to home decor, as seen recently at the International Builders Show in Las Vegas in April.
Also growing in popularity right now is Shinrin-yoku, the name given to the Japanese art of “forest bathing,” or contemplative walks through the woods.
Mobile meditation, as it’s also called, has been recognized by the Japanese government since 1982 and has been endorsed by the Forest Agency of Japan as a means of improving quality of life.
The practice can be a natural way to combat the toll of stress and anxiety, according to the Los Angeles Times, which first reported the trend last year.
“If you don’t have time for long walks in the woods, you could influence your mood by bringing the outdoors in with Lumiscapes,” Mr. Doherty, pouring over articles about Shinrin-yoku while sitting at his kitchen table (which he made himself, from reclaimed wood), says.
One of his oval light fixtures hangs overhead, casting a warm glow. The shade has an overall fall pattern; hypnotic swirls of oranges, reds, faded green and plum.
Mr. Doherty looks at it and happily describes it as its own work of art. “It doesn’t just light a room,” he says. “It brightens your soul. I feel good just looking at it. It’s a statement piece.”
It’s also one-of-a-kind.
Each light fixture is customized according to the tastes of the client who selects from a predetermined list of Mr. Doherty’s nature paintings when choosing the design.
The paintings are not replicated in their entirety.
“Only a small detail,” Mr. Doherty says, “which I then magnify to the point that it looks less like an actual picture of something and more like an abstract design.”
With this process, “no two fixtures need be alike,” he continues.
“It all depends on the imagination.”