Shadow Play

Lead image showing Tom Raffield light designs

I’ve always been quite enchanted by shadows: images created on walls by quirky shadow-puppets; the patterns cast by leaves or trees on the ground; moody imagery where the shadows become as important as the objects in the image.

In some countries – notably Morocco – shadows are an important element in the design of their traditional crafts; their cutwork metal lanterns throw light around a room in a way that creates stunning shadows – visitors to the souks of Marrakech will undoubtedly have seen a myriad different shaped and coloured cutwork pieces hanging in the bustling souks.

There are now a number of designers closer to home creating visually exciting products which manipulate the way that light passes through them. In this feature I have shown a variety of pieces – some traditional in feel and others cutting-edge and truly innovative, whatever their style – that have been selected for their ability to cast magical shadows.

As the days become shorter and the nights draw in, the light within our homes becomes all the more important and therefore it seems like a good time to tempt you with some pieces that will transform these darker evenings into something much more beautiful.

Handcrafted lamp by Kate HollowayBespoke handcrafted lamp, from £70, Kate Hollowood

I first came across the designs of Kate Hollowood at a Made by Hand fair; I was captivated by her range of bespoke pieces of lighting made using a top secret ‘Matrix’ material that results in web-like structures that throw out stunning shadows.

Alice Ives Shadow Series candles, £12 for ten; Alice Ives candle holders, £36 each (includes two Shadow Series candles); all Alice Ives at John LewisAlice Ives Shadow Series candles, £12 for ten; Alice Ives candle holders, £36 each (includes two Shadow Series candles); all Alice Ives at John Lewis

Brilliantly designed, these delicately sculptural candle holders would be a lovely gift for someone! As the candle burns, beautiful and ever-changing shadows are cast on the surface below. They are made from an engineered base that has been turned from solid brass; it secures to an etched steel collar that has a contemporary looking matt white finish.

Lumen oil shadow projector, £36.52, Adam Frank at Uncommon Goods
Lumen oil shadow projector, £36.52, Adam Frank at Uncommon Goods

These lovely shadow projectors were dreamt up by Adam Frank, a New York based artist with a passion for creating pieces that play with light and shadow. The oil candle casts an intricate shadow from the tiny stainless-steel scene – the effect intensifies as the room darkens. As well as the Pine design shown here, you can also choose from Magnolia, Nest, Cedar, and Bloom – all so lovely it would be tricky to choose between them!

Arame wall light with LED bulb, £295, Tom RaffieldArame wall light with LED bulb, £295, Tom Raffield

Readers of our weekly e-zine, The Thread, may already be familiar with the brilliant designs created by Tom Raffield using steam-bent timber pieces that are manipulated into organic shapes. Here we’ve picked out his Arame wall light which we can see above and in the lead image to this feature: Tom explains that, ‘when illuminated, an abundance of golden glow diffuses from its steam bent core – casting an aura of light that is truly transfixing’. These beautiful pieces would make a real focal point on a section of wall.

Moroccan fluted pierced iron lantern with coloured glass, £89, Maroque
Moroccan fluted pierced iron lantern with coloured glass, £89, Maroque

Handmade in the souks of Marrakech, Maroque’s lanterns feature fluted pierced iron-work and colourful glass inserts which cast wonderful shadows and blocks of colour on the walls.

Tahir Moroccan pendant lights, £219 each, Idyll HomeTahir Moroccan pendant lights, £219 each, Idyll Home

Ethically made in North Africa, these pendant lights are available in a choice of the two patterns, which can be seen here. Each piece is unique and certainly guaranteed to set your walls alight with the prettiest patterns.

Shadow dark grey metal LED floor lamp, £175, HabitatShadow dark grey metal LED floor lamp, £175, Habitat

If you like your shadows to feel minimal and understated, then Habitat’s Shadow floor lamp could be just the thing for you. With its dark matt metal finish, this piece simply leans against a wall to create a frame-shaped shadow of light that would add a graphic and architectural touch to a room.

Etch Web pendant, £1,200, Tom Dixon at Holloways of LudlowEtch Web pendant, £1,200, Tom Dixon at Holloways of Ludlow

Tom Dixon is somewhat of a master at manipulating light and shadows through the way he designs lighting, candle holders and even glassware. We particularly love his Etch Web pendant which consists of an irregular pentagon shape that has been repeated an impressive 60 times across its body to create a total sphere. This highly polished stainless-steel structure reflects light and casts extraordinary angular shadows across the walls. This really is a showstopper of a piece!

Artists and photographers often talk about the shadows being an important element of their work, and here I hope I have shown you how cleverly designed pieces can allow the surfaces in our homes to be brought alive with gorgeous shadows.

With thanks to Tom Raffield for kindly allowing us to use their photograph as the lead image.