Archive for 2008

Tech Lighting Track Light Challenge

At Form + Function we pride ourselves in our Tech Lighting product knowledge. We work surrounded by Tech Lighting systems, we love Tech Lighting, and we deal with custom systems on a day-to-day basis.
It’s time for a challenge!

So, we are challenging YOU to  get creative – and save!

Send us ANY question regarding Tech Lighting systems – and if we don’t return a correct answer within 24 hours, we’ll send you a cool little LED puck light.

Tom, Louise, Paul, Alex, Michael, and Lette are waiting for your questions!

(Of course we are challenging each other as well!)

Hubbardton Forge Dyad Table Lamp 27-8120

Hubbardton Forge Dyad Table Lamp 27-8120

The American Society of Furniture Designers (ASFD) named Hubbardton Forge’s Dyad series of table and floor lamps the winner of the prestigious 2008 Pinnacle Award for Design Achievement in Lighting. The accolade was announced during this year’s High Point International Home Furnishings Show in North Carolina. Pinnacle judges stated that they chose the Dyad collection for the award because it “exhibited strong architectural style softened by relevant materials”.
Designed and manufactured by Vermont artisans, the Dyad products by Hubbardton Forge feature solid hardwood ash in an espresso finish, nested in contrasting planes of heavy steel. Rugged, locally milled wood, combined with heavy grade steel created a unique juxtaposition of authentic materials. The materials also provide both quality and durability for years of use.

The clean-lined, trans-modern, sculptural compositions of the Dyad series make for timeless accents that complement a wide variety of settings.
This is the fourth Pinnacle Award the ASFD has granted Hubbardton Forge. Previously awarded Hubbardton Forge designs include the Pierced Arc (2002), the Fullered Impressions (2004), and the Stasis (2005).
Hubbardton Forge is a Vermont-based manufacturer and marketer of high-end hand-forged lighting products and related accessories.


Contemporary Lighting Design for Less

With a brand new ( redesigned) website it is so tempting to show off all the fabulous lighting we have to offer by famous designers. I, for one, just can’t get enough of Ingo Maurer’s fantastic creations and I find immense pleasure in the the powerful classic beauty of the pieces designed by Achille Castiglione.

I could spend the rest of my days blogging about all these incredible designers and their products and fill all our pages with them. But then again I look at our customers and what most are actually looking for.
And just like me, most of our customers truly appreciate great design but don’t have an unlimited budget.

When designing the lighting for an entire house I therefore usually recommend picking a few “Wow!” pieces that you can’t live without and mixing them with nice looking affordable lighting fixtures.

In order to make it easier to find a selection of fixtures and portable lamps that are affordable, durable and good looking we have started creating a page named “Design for Less”. We will be adding to it and hope to make it a resource for your everyday lighting needs.


We don’t want our lamps to come back to visit!

Form + Function is not just a web based business that distributes lighting all over the country. We meet our customers face-to-face every day and talk with them about their needs.

We unfortunately also have people walk through the door with a broken lamp under their arm and we cringe every time it happens. Now we get to fix it or package it up and send it back to the manufacturer. So, it is truly in OUR best interest never to have this happen.

We definitely like our customers and love visiting with them, but we only want to see them return because they were happy with what they got from us. For that particular reason we are removing any light fixture that seems to have problems from our showroom as well as our site.

Some problems might not even be that visible. We have just blacklisted a great series of floor-and table lamps that we really liked: They sell well because they are good looking, well priced, sturdy, have all the bells and whistles in adjustability – BUT you can’t exchange the light bulb without intensive work, bandaids and multiple words I can’t repeat here. You won’t believe how often we see our poor customers drag their lamp into our store to have Paul, our expert, exchange the bulb.

I just ask: Did the manufacturer never try to exchange the bulb?


We have now been at our new location for three full months and things are starting to look just the way we envisioned it. This for sure is not your run-of-the-mill lighting showroom!  And that’s just what we intended. We are aiming for a lot more. I’ll explain:

After 24 years in the lighting business a lot of things came together to make us want to change – well, EVERYTHING.

From very humble beginnings we had grown and and expanded, and up until three months ago we occupied 12.000 sq ft. filled to the brim with lighting, with some furniture and home accessories thrown in. (How else do you display 20 different types of desk lamps? )

Business was bustling on the web as well as in our Santa Fe showroom, where we also have our offices. Over the years we had created a very unique showroom with a loyal customer base. Life was good. – Kind of.  It had little by little become obvious to us that something vital was missing: Time to do things right.  Really right. We were insanely busy, stressed, over-extended, and frustrated over being torn in all kinds of directions.

With all the exciting changes in “green” product development a lot is happening and the lighting business is an exciting place to be.

We wanted to be allowed to focus on what is important to us: Being able to be there for our customers is definitely high up there on our priority list. Not just sell stuff, but make our knowledge base available and have fun working with the people who walk in the door.

We got it!

The new place is a charm! Lots of vignettes, interactive displays, places to sit down and pour over literature, samples. Soon our tv monitors on the walls will show videos or power point presentations about our products, allow our customers to surf our site……

Can’t wait to tell more and show you more photos – next time….

The new Form + Function showroom.

Form + Function Showroom

“We’ll show you the most fun you’ll have with the lights on!”


The YaYaHo Cable Light System by Ingo Maurer

The low voltage lighting system YaYaHo by Ingo Maurer is sheer poetry.

The 250+ part YaYaHo system is more than just a conventional low voltage cable system. With its small mirrors that bounce the light in all directions, bird-like shades covering sparkling MR-16s, freely adjustable fixtures that hang off the main wires like mini trapezes and others that delicately balance on the wires like circus acrobats the YaYaHo system is capable of expressing everything from unorganized exuberance to serene beauty.


I miss our gigantic Birds, Birds, Birds chandelier that was a focal point in our old showroom. We even had the surrounding walls covered with an oversized pair of wings, painted by a local artist. Now they are painted over, the birds have found a loving home and we have the smaller ceiling version (“Birdie’s Nest) of the Ingo Maurer chandelier mounted over the counter in our new space.

So, there are a few things I actually miss about the cavernous old location even though we are all so thrilled with our new digs. We got used to the tall ceilings and having tons of space.
What we won’t miss is trying to heat or cool the space!
Yes, it’s true, this winter you won’t see us with stocking caps and gloves in the morning!

Our new showroom is more like a real home, actually much more conventional  from the floor plan than most homes I visit during my lighting consultations.  This  makes it possible for us to show lighting more in a home context, which I think makes sense.

The Birds, Birds, Birds chandelier was designed by Ingo Maurer in 1992. This exuberant chandelier is as much a sculpture as a light fixture just like most Ingo Maurer creations.

24 special light bulbs (with the Ingo Maurer logo) are attached to metal wires that can be bent, twisted and stretched to fit your creativity and mood. The real goosefeather wings are attached separately. They are not part of the bulb itself.

Two smaller versions are available: Birdie and Birdie’s Nest.

Ingo Maurer Birds, Birds, Birds Chandelier

Schloss Seggau, Austria

Schloss Seggau, Austria

Staying at a conference center south of Graz, Austria and I can’t stop taking pictures of the impressive architecture.
Schloss Seggau was built in the 12th century and lovingly restored in recent years.

This is the dining hall that we use every day.

I especially like how discrete the lighting is done. No heavy-handed approach to the design, like the massive wrought iron chandeliers you’d expect in a place like this. Instead indirect lighting highlighting the striking architectural features.

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The answer is – yes and no.

Ceiling fans can definitely save money on your air conditioning bill if you use them the way they are intended.

Ceiling fans make you feel comfortable when it’s hot by blowing air over your body and increasing the evaporation, which is how the body cools itself. You feel the reaction just like a wind chill factor.

In theory this makes it possible to set the thermostat at a higher room temperature, which of course translates into energy savings.

Makes sense. Statistics, however, unfortunately show that most people keep the same thermostat settings no matter if they run their ceiling fans or not.

So now you come in from the hot outdoors, enter a chilled room and on top of it get blasted with a wind chill factor that has you grab for a sweater. The same people (not anyone in this room, of course) often leave their ceiling fans on even when nobody is around, oblivious to the fact that ceiling fans only do their duty when the air they circulate actually moves across a warm body. Operating alone in a room ceiling fans are useless and only consume energy.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not putting down the virtues of a ceiling fan. As a matter of fact I like the nostalgic feel they somehow evoke. From our miserable cooling conditions at our old showroom I also know for a fact that ceiling fans definitely help keep a large crowd of people more comfortable, when the air conditioner is having trouble keeping up. There’s no doubt about that.

In the winter using a ceiling fan in reverse can help push the heated air that collects at the ceiling down to a level where it is useful.
Again, it’s important to remember that air movement feels chilling, so it’s better not to overdo the air circulation in winter to a point where it ends up feeling drafty and uncomfortable.

So, used the way they are designed, ceiling fans can indeed help cut down on your energy bill.

Shown: the Flute Ceiling Fan and the Cirrus Ceiling Fan by The Modern Fan Co.


The Kitchen as a Gathering Place for Friends


The Kitchen is today’s gathering place for friends and family.

At our house it seems always to be the place where everyone ends up while dinner is being prepared.
No matter how many deep, cozy armchairs the living room has to offer, or how inviting the deck is on a warm summer evening, everyone is leaning against the kitchen counters, glass in hand, making my last minute food preparation a very familiar (and comfortable) dance.

It’s just a fact: the kitchen is the heart of the home. It is also usually the busiest room of the house.
Today’s multi-functional kitchen spaces are not only used for cooking, but also for visiting with friends, home work, reading the paper and just relaxing.

Open Kitchen concept, as seen in Boligmagasin. Photo: Lisbett Wedendahl

The kitchen asks for effective lighting at a fairly bright level for tasks as well as decorative lighting to create an inviting, livable space.

Just like in any other living space it is important to create multiple layers of light in the kitchen. Task lighting, ambient lighting and accent lighting will together create the inviting atmosphere you want.
Try to think about the general feel of your home and continue the color temperature from other areas of the house into the kitchen.

Recessed incandescent downlights can assure even illumination of the kitchen.

Space recessed lights 4’ – 6’ on center and allow about 2.5 – 3 watt per square ft. as a general rule of thumb.

With fluorescent recessed lights allow about 1 – 1.5 watt per square ft.

Tech Lighting Powell Street Pendant

Kitchen counters and other work areas need to be well lit and free of shadows.
Fluorescent or low voltage undercabinet lighting strips provide effective task lighting. If at all possible mount the lights at the front edge of the cabinet.
The lights should, however, be shielded so that you don’t look into bright lights while sitting at the breakfast or dining table.
Fluorescent lighting fixtures are well suited because they are efficient, providing most light for the least cost. They do not put out much heat and they create an even light, and with the newer electronic ballasts, they do not flicker or hum anymore!

Kitchen as seen on Freshome

LED undercabinet lights are very popular now and it’s easy to see why: Super slim in profile LED strips or puck lights can virtually disappear while providing sufficient light for a kitchen counter.
The light quality is improving at a brisk pace, so that there is hope on the horizon that they will soon not only be the most energy conscious choice, but the aesthetic choice as well.

Tech Lighting Fore Pendant in Kitchen by CG&S Design Build

Decorative pendant lights are great for lighting an island  while adding your personal style to the decor.
Depending on the size of the island, two or three pendant lights are usually sufficient.  A dimmer switch allows for bright task lighting for food preparation or homework, while allowing the lights to be lowered for atmosphere.

A Scandinavian Kitchen seen on FresHome

Low voltage lighting illuminates decorative objects and surfaces with a crisp light that can bring out the full range of colors.
Over shiny, black marble surfaces they will create drama, but be aware: they can also create glare.

If you are lighting a kitchen island with a very reflective surface and this is your primary work area, you might want to choose a fixture where the low voltage bulb does not shine directly onto the work area, or even choose a softer light source, like an incandescent or fluorescent fixture.

Pelham Pendant from Hudson Valley Lighting

Please note: Pendant lights over the island should hang just above eye level when you are standing. This allows you to see your guests comfortably. Choose fixtures with decorative bulbs that are meant to show or with diffusers that soften the glare of a naked bulb.

The sink needs good lighting. It is after all the most used area in the kitchen. Recessed downlights or pendants work well if there are no overhead cabinets for undercabinet lighting.

The built-in lighting in the range hood should accommodate at least a 60W bulb.

Two crystal chandeliers as surprise glam elements in a kitchen

A breakfast area is also frequently used for reading, so good overhead light is a must.
Here the decor determines the style: from chandeliers to high-tech flexible track lighting with colorful pendants the choice is yours.

As with dining tables, the light over the breakfast table should hang approximately 30″ above the table so you can see under it when seated and it yet hangs low enough to embrace the area with a warm, inviting glow.

If your kitchen and dining area are within the same open area it is important to have the kitchen lights on a dimmer, so you can focus the eyes on the beautiful dining table and away from the pots and pans used to prepare the dinner.

In a contemporary kitchen, a low voltage monorail with a variety of track heads and colorful glass mini-pendants can curve through the work and dining areas without interruption of design.
The spots can highlight decorative features in the kitchen like a collection of colorful canisters on top of the cabinets at the same time as they provide general, ambient light.

Good general lighting is needed for all casual activities. It permits comfortable clean-up and easy view into drawers. Recessed downlights or fluorescent lighting are good choices.

Flos Fucsia pendant in striking kitchen via

Find some great Kitchen Lighting solutions here. Courtesy of Kichler Lighting.

The days of the single dim overhead kitchen lighting fixture are over!

As with all home lighting, it is important to create multiple layers of light.

Task lighting, ambient lighting and accent lighting will together create an inviting, livable space.

The ambient layeris the general overhead lighting in a room. Since it usually doesn’t provide sufficient light for specific tasks it is supplemented with other types of lighting, like undercabinet lighting and a pendant over the sink or breakfast nook.

Ambient light by itself can be dull and uninteresting. It provides light, but that’s about it.

Layers of Light work wonders in a Kitchen

It is amazing how the right lighting can bring out the beautiful colors of a countertop, the textures and colors of the tiles or the richness of the wood of your kitchen cabinets.

Recessed lights are a great way to add ambient light to a kitchen.
They have a much cleaner look than surface mounted fixtures and are also a lot less susceptible to grease and moisture from cooking.

It is a common mistake just space recessed lights evenly throughout the space. Recessed lights can be positioned so that they highlight beautiful wood cabinets or kitchen countertops while providing general light.

Task lighting helps making the kitchen a functional workplace.

Kitchen counters and other work areas need to be well lit and free of shadows. Fluorescent or low voltage undercabinet lighting strips provide effective task lighting.

Fluorescent lighting fixtures are well suited because they are efficient, providing more lumens per watt. They do not put out much heat and they create an even light, and with the newer electronic ballasts, they do not flicker or hum anymore!

Kichler Pella Pendant Low voltage lighting dims more easily and lights decorative objects and surfaces dramatically. They bring out the full spectrum of colors of your beautiful granite counters.
Be aware: over shiny, black surfaces they will create drama, but: they can also give off a lot of glare if not positioned or shielded properly.

An important little point to pay attention to is the use of low voltage pendants in a kitchen that is REALLY used for cooking. Cooking grease and low voltage connections don’t mix well. With a downdraft range without a hood I found out the hard way! But moving the fixture just a few feet away from the cooktop took care of the problem.

In our showroom we have several LED strips on display. They all have beautifully slim profiles and provide an amazing amount of light with very few watts.
Please note that there is a huge difference between cheap LED strips or pucks and the quality brands we carry, like Tech Lighting,  WAC, Kichler and American Lighting.

A friend of mine just proudly showed off her Western style kitchen with beautiful cabinetry, but once she turned on the in-cabinet puck lights, she had bought for $6.95 at a local hardware store the entire place took on a sickly hue.

I’m all for saving energy, but not for the cheap shortcuts that don’t do the job they promise to do.  -  Lette Birn, owner of Form + Function.
LED stands for “light-emitting diode,” It is a lighting technology that is extremely energy-efficient and long-lasting.
The initial cost is more expensive than incandescent, but the light bulbs last over 60,000 hours. That’s nearly seven years of continuous, cool-burning light.

With lots of serious research going into this sector products are improving practically on a daily basis and there are already LED lights out there with a pretty good color quality for residential use.

Undercabinet Lights by Kichler Lighting

Accent Lighting adds dimension and depth to the space. A very effective way of adding accent light is installing small fixtures inside your glass cabinets to spotlight your favorite china, bowl collection, or delicate glassware.

You can also highlight artwork or beautiful tile work with spotlighs, like off a track or monorail.  As a bonus this will give you added accent light for the entire room.

Bendable Monorail lighting, which is a modern twist on traditional track lighting allows you attach different individual lights to one long, curving track. You can easily combine ambient, focal and decorative lights on a monorail. Direct the beams of track heads to highlight your collection of beautiful baskets on top of your kitchen cabinets or some colorful prints on the wall.

Drop a couple of pendant over your kitchen island and the sink to provide task lighting as well as a cheerful splash of color.

Even though recessed lights do a nice job of illuminating a space there is something special about mid-level task lighting. Bringing light down to your level with a pendant or even a chandelier adds not only much-needed direct task light, but interest and charm to the entire room.

Track lighting is often used in kitchens, but usually it is being asked to do too many tasks at once and therefore ends up failing miserably at all of them.
The most common mistake is that the track is positioned wrong, in the center of the space. This way, when the track heads are aimed at the kitchen work surfaces, you inevitably have the light in your back, creating a shadow on the kitchen counter.

If track is to be used as task lighting for a kitchen counter it should be placed approximately 40” away from the cabinets.

The days of the single dim overhead kitchen lighting fixture are over! A
As with all home lighting, it is important to create multiple layers of light.

Task lighting, ambient lighting and accent lighting will together create an inviting, livable space.

Kitchen Lighting by Day and by Night

How much light is needed in a kitchen?

It depends on the size. If it’s less than 100 square feet, a 2-light decorative fluorescent fixture is fine.

Larger kitchens up to 250 feet will need a 4-light fluorescent fixture. Over 250 square feet will need 4-light plus additional supplemental lighting.

Undercabinet lighting is always appropriate for task lighting of work surfaces. (Courtesy of Kichler Lighting.)


Hubbardton Forge 18-768 pendant via


Warm Contemporary Kitchen via Boligmagasin


Unique Kitchen Design via Apartmenttherapy Daniel Lowe HouseTour


Exposed Bulb Fixtures in Kitchen via


Kitchen with warehouse pendants via Apartmenttherapy

Hudson Valley Lighting Haverhill pendant via


Kitchen with Vintage Warehouse Shade

Kitchen as seen on the blog Full House