Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Magic Lanterns of Ombre Portée


Perhaps more than anything else, the quality of light determines the atmosphere of an interior. Nothing could be worse than uniformity. Luckily in a three-dimensional room, complete uniformity is rare - though overhead lighting on its own can be ghastly. Certain decoration magazines suffer from uniformly lit photos  that give an impression of vacuum-packed air; suffocation is the penalty for looking too long.  Most real life rooms have the benefit of old Sol's caressing beam through a window for at least a few hours a day and so much the better if it angles through a tangle of branches or winks through a billowing curtain.

The objects I'm illustrating today can't exactly be called light fixtures. Rather than lighting a room, the dynamic of these objects is shadow play. Like the light that filters into a room through the swaying branches before the window pane, they compose lively, expressive shapes in their surroundings. They are made by Ombre Portée (Cast Shadow), a company founded in 1998 by Eric de Dormael et Sylvie Janvier to create sculpture based on light effects. Individually they are well-made, highly seductive objects whose purpose is not to provide light so much as it is to decorate. They cast shadows, send reflections, sheen and shimmer into the surrounding space from cleverly constucted structures.

leo-g sconce

These light sculptures are made by hand in the owner's Paris atelier. Quality and creativity are key; they are one-of-a-kind pieces or small limited edition series, each one a combination of light, poetry, and technology. Sculpture, including monumental pieces, can also be made to measure for particular architectural projects.
le cardinal

zwartepik 3 sconce



sagaie lineaire

bois dormant

Sometimes the lines between fine arts and decorative arts become blurred. An emotion is created and we end up seeing things in a new light.

The Ombre Portée site illustrates many more styles of their work.

All photos from the site Ombre Portée


  1. Le Style,

    These are enchanting. While I hew toward the sconces, your description of an effect where "light that filters into a room through the swaying branches before the window pane," promises more than meets the eye. Just as a softly lit mobile over a baby's crib attracts and delights, one can imagine a kind of adult version of a shimmering light show like the legendary Aurora borealis.

  2. Wow, those are incredible! I especially love the first one!

  3. Wonderful, especially the sconces. Actually, they're all pretty fabulous.

  4. i have seen the leo-g sconce installed.
    it is fabulous.
    love it.

  5. EA et al - Enchanting is the word. Their charm even works at professional shows like Maison et Objet which are great but tend to be a bit cold.