Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Theft - the chandelier saga

Good artists copy. Great artists steal. This is an unsourced quote of Picasso who might well have stolen it from T.S. Eliot ("Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal"). Why this quote? Maybe I am trying to rationalize my theft because, for some reason, I am a terrible designer. I always start working on a piece thinking if it goes badly I can fix it up later. Artists can usually pull this off, can cover up, or can even ignore flaws. Designers have to get everything right in their execution.

But to the point, my wife and I were in Design Expo, the fancy Home Depot, getting some track lighting for the kitchen. I noticed a very nice looking light (Hunter-Conroy Geometry Light) and thought it would be great for the dining room ceiling. They had a sale so I talked myself into paying $200 for the light which, as seems typical of of Design Expo, was out of stock. Two months later, it finally came in and when I was installing it I noticed that one of the components was off by about 1/4" - it was not square. I tried to convince myself it would not matter - but it did. So I returned it, waited another month, and then they told me it was no longer available. At this point I had to have the light so I started thinking how to make one.

The design was four rectangles of square tube, each containing a rectangular halogen light. I could not locate a square halogen light but I could find round ones. So I changed the design from squares to linked circles. Solving the light problem I now had to figure out how to bend square tube into circles. Not sloppy circles, but nice circles. Moreover they had to be joined together nicely because in design you simply can not fake bad workmanship. This was beyond my skills, I had met my match. But I still had light lust in my heart and satisfying that lust was worth two hundred bucks.

A few weeks later we were in Design Within Reach buying a couple of chairs. I wandered around and saw a very cool chandelier. $2,600 was a little more than the $200 I was willing to spend but the more I looked at it the more I thought I could make something like it. You be the judge -- is my chandelier a copy or a theft? (Note: the pic in this blog entry is the DWR chandelier).

Postscript: after I finished the chandelier I got a new catalog from King Architectural Metals, a great resource for fancy gates and fences. They now carry square tube circles so maybe my first idea is something I can make.

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