Chandeliers shed light on words
- The San Francisco Chronicle, 01/24/2010

While the traditional crystal chandelier is a bastion of elegance, drama and romance, it's not the only light fixture that makes a statement.

Some, in fact, are downright chatty.

One of my all-time favorites is the Zettel'z chandelier by famous German lighting designer Ingo Maurer. Taking his typical Mad Hatter approach to design - think light bulbs with angel wings - Maurer has affixed love notes to wires radiating from a stainless steel frame. Backlit by bulbs, the pieces of paper seem to glow, bringing the heartfelt doodles, poems and scribbles ("amore amore") into relief. The blank pieces of paper that come with the chandelier let you get in on the action - though the $1,220 price tag at YLighting.com may sideline some.

If that's the case, you might try the Wakefield Chandelier at Pottery Barn, whose three circular tiers of bronze-finished iron are punctuated by small clips. Each holds an ivory card printed with maps, sketches and phrases like "all the world's a stage," "smile" and "let them eat cake!" Though some of the sentiment may seem cliched, the Wakefield remains a quirky alternative to the crystal chandelier - and at $299, far more affordable than the Maurer design.

Of course, if you want something on a smaller scale, you can always turn to the Urban Outfitters Mobile Spider Frame for $12; its 16 braided steel cables come with clips for photos and notes. A top hook makes it easy to hang.

But I say: Go with the design that speaks to you.

$1,220 Zettel'z chandelier  

$299 Pottery Barn's  Wakefield Chandelier