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The Art of Lighting: Conversation with Corbett Lighting’s Steve Nadell

The right lighting is essential, not just for function but also as a critical element of any home’s design plan. Yes, overhead lighting can provide illumination throughout a space, task lighting is key for specific activity areas, and accent lighting can focus on specific areas or items, spotlighting a nook, a special piece of furniture, or a piece of art.

But what if the lighting is the art?

That’s one of the driving forces behind the success of Corbett Lighting, one of the industry’s premier luxury lighting manufacturers and winner of some of its most prestigious awards, including “Lighting Manufacturer of the Year.” Two fixtures created by Troy-CSL Lighting, Inc., the parent company of Corbett — Manhattan for Corbell Lighting and Epic for Troy Lighting — occupy two of the four finalist spots for the 2016 Pinnacle Awards; which spotlight the best in design quality within the home furnishings industry; winners will be revealed during the fall High Point Market awards banquet ceremony on Monday, Oct. 24.


Manhattan by Corbett Lighting

Previews Inside Out talked to Steve Nadell, president of Troy-CSL Lighting, in advance of the awards to get his take on today’s lighting trends, the importance of refreshing your lighting often, and how the right fixture has the ability to transform a space well beyond a simple light source.

Previews Inside Out Good lighting may not ultimately ‘sell’ a house—but it is arguably one of the most important aspects in design. Why do you think that is?

Steve Nadell If there is a home being built in my neighborhood, I want to see what kind of lighting is inside. If it only has recessed fixtures and they’re not LED, that doesn’t say “luxury” to me. It makes me wonder if the home is being built to today’s standards and specifications. Today, if you are building a home, you need dedicated LED, which is the most up-to-date technology. It’s costlier, but worth it to get the right color temperature. In the past, people have shied away from LEDs because the technology changes so often and you couldn’t get the right color temperature. In the early days, many of the LEDs had a cooler, blue color — not warm, like a traditional incandescent. That’s not the case today. Nowadays, too, the size of the LED element is so small, and when you combine that with the use of optics and reflectors, you can install fixtures with 1-3-inch apertures to light even a large space. Many of the recessed LED fixtures are also trimless, which creates a really clean, sleek, high-end look. I think that adds a massive amount of value to any house.


North Bay by Troy Outdoor Lighting

Previews Inside Out Can we assume the same is true for outdoors?

Steve Nadell Yes, in particular, the lanterns used on the outside of the house. Worn-out fixtures cheapen even a high-quality luxury home. This is your first impression, and if you’re already turning people off, it’s time for a facelift.

New lighting is a huge upgrade to a home. The right style and proportion are the most important factors. And, of course, you want to make sure that you are selecting the right outdoor fixtures for your specific city or state, which may have special Dark Sky standards — or energy efficiency standards mandated by Title 24, as is the case in California.

Previews Inside Out How does home automation factor in today?

Steve Nadell Home automation is really something to be considered, especially when building or remodeling luxury homes. If a potential buyer is looking at a residence, the fact that it includes home automation adds a lot of value. All of these different types of lighting—cove, outdoor, recessed and decorative—can be controlled by home automation and tied together with window shades and other features. It saves a tremendous amount of energy.

Your friends and guests won't say, “I love your recessed lighting.” With decorative lighting, it’s what everyone talks about. It’s an expression of your personality and style.

Previews Inside Out Why do you think lighting is like ‘art’ in a home?

Steve Nadell We look at lighting as functional pieces of art. You can select a fixture for a particular home or property that fits the architecture or style of the home. People are looking for a more eclectic touch these days. With decorative lighting, you can achieve this more eclectic look, adding a product or fixture that is a contradiction to the predominant style. That creates an attention getter.

In the Corbett line, every fixture is designed to be a piece of art. It turns decorative lighting into an asset instead of just a form of illumination.

Previews Inside Out What are your rules (if there are any rules) for curating lighting for the home?

Steve Nadell A lighting facelift should be done whenever there is some sort of remodeling done to the home. Changing a fixture can give a home a lift on its own or complement new paint or décor. A new fixture can be quite impactful in a bathroom, especially if you’re replacing an outdated, wide fixture. Today, a lot of people are doing recessed lighting with sconces on either side of the mirror for a high-end solution that looks great.

Previews Inside Out What’s the secret to choosing the perfect piece of lighting?

Steve Nadell Buying the right size. Don’t buy an over-scale piece or an under-scale piece. You have to think about what you are using this fixture for. Is it to light up the room or as an accessory piece to supplement the recessed lighting? It’s really important to determine that upfront. And while you want to make sure that the fixture works with the design, having a contrast is great because it’s unexpected.


Serenity by Corbett Lighting

Previews Inside Out Is decorative lighting ‘dead’? We keep hearing everything is going minimal and recessed these days.

Steve Nadell That’s totally false. I think, today, in luxury environments, the combination of recessed and decorative is very much alive and well. If it’s just recessed, it’s boring. By bringing in decorative lighting, you create excitement below the ceiling line. If you want to add warmth to a room, or make it more inviting, or you want to bring more interest to the eye level, a lighting designer might sell you on the benefits of decorative lighting.

Your friends and guests won’t say, “I love your recessed lighting.” With decorative lighting, it’s what everyone talks about. It’s an expression of your personality and style. I like to say it’s the “jewelry of the house.” That’s how we look at it. The Corbett line, essentially, is inspired by jewelry and fashion.

Our process is not formal, but we look for a lot of references. We buy every shelter magazine on the planet, rip out pages and look at door hardware, furniture and pieces of art—we’re searching for inspiration everywhere. There’s lighting and then there’s lighting—where do you want to go with it?


Spellbound by Corbett Lighting

Previews Inside Out Are you seeing any trends or new art movements that are inspiring your lighting collections this year?

Steve Nadell The biggest thing right now is mid-century modern. Vintage modern. It’s casual and contemporary. The key to modern lighting is to mix in some warmth. Maybe add simpler straight-line pieces, but the materials and the tone are warm.

Previews Inside Out In terms of decorative lighting technology, what’s the most exciting development you’ve seen lately?

Steve Nadell The continuation of LED technology. We’re able to work and design with it easier today. We’re seeing form follow function, meaning we’re designing products specifically for LED technology and not the other way around. The days of stuffing LED technology into a lighting product that was designed for more conventional modes of lighting are over. It doesn’t look good.

Previews Inside Out In what direction would you like to see lighting design go in the next few years?

Steve Nadell I would like to see the continuation of more decorative lighting. I think it’s a mistake to use it less. The rule of mixing recessed lighting with decorative is that it must be in appropriate settings. More products are using LED sources and building products that will coordinate with home automation.


Trousdale by Troy Outdoor Lighting

Previews Inside Out Any key events or milestones happening this summer or fall?

Steve Nadell In late June, we introduced a lot of new collections from Troy and Corbett. There’s a great collection, Anello, that’s modern yet also incorporates Murano glass. Our concept was redefining and reinterpreting the Venetian chandelier. It’s an LED flush-mount fixture but the diameter is as big as 50 inches. For older homes that don’t have high ceilings, or for high-rise living, we focus on these big, close-to-ceiling fixtures. Domain by Troy Lighting has this traditional interior lantern shape but it’s completely modernized with this asymmetrical metal work and double glass frame.

In January 2017, we will introduce as many as 250 new designs at the Dallas International Lighting Show. Stay tuned. 




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The Art of Lighting: Conversation with Corbett Lighting’s Steve Nadell

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