What does glass bring to innovative lighting designs?

Following his invention of the lightbulb in 1879, Thomas Edison went on to design and create glass lampshades using his knowledge of stained glass windows. By cutting different pieces of glass into shapes and soldering them together, he was able to create glass lampshades. But, following the design developments of the lightbulb since then (incandescent, halogen incandescent, fluorescent, LED), has glass working also progressed? And, what part does it play in today’s innovative lighting?


Glass blowing

It is believed that glass blowing began in the 11th century, and was developed by German glass workers. Prior to this, glass had merely been moulded over different shapes made of clay, which was then removed once the molten glass had cooled. The arrival of the glass blowing technique meant craftsmen could create never-seen-before shapes and designs – and this continues even until today. In our modern world, artisans are still using techniques such as glass blowing and glass moulding to bring the ideas of designers and manufacturers to life. Given the skills and expertise necessary to effectively form blown glass, these craftsmen are highly valued. In a society of mass production and factory-line products, the creations by these skilled artisans are a sign of premium products.


Colours and designs

Unlike the very early glass workers, today’s craftsmen have a variety of techniques at their disposal which enable them to create innovative designs and patterns. Outside the shape and form of the glass, one of the most common ways to add unique touches is with colour – and this too requires the knowledge of an expert. To create colours, glass craftsmen will add chemicals into the molten glass mixture before they start blowing. These powdered metal oxides, sulphides, or other compounds will affect the glass in different ways and create a range of colours. For example, adding cobalt oxide will turn the glass blue/violet, whereas cadmium sulphide will create a yellow tone. The ability to colour glass in line with the shape and style of the designer’s vision, once again shows that the skill sets and expertise of glass craftsmen is as unique as the products they create.



In some instances, the light may require more than its form or colour to become the focal point of a room, and this is where the finish of the glass becomes important. Options such as sandblasted, acid etched, frosted, mirror, painted, and a variety of other options, means that designers and craftsmen have unlimited possibilities for their creations.


As you can see, glass has a huge part to play in the contemporary lighting designs of the modern world. The shape of shades can be used to focus light, diffuse it, or even create warmth. The colours of the glass can be eye-catching or sensitively compliment the surrounding décor. And, the finish to the glass can suggest many things from traditional to modern.

Ultimately, glass brings a great deal of beneficial factors to contemporary and innovative lighting, but it’s not standalone. Only by using the mind of an inspired designer do the ideas become real. And only by utilising the skills and knowledge of an experienced glass worker are these ideas brought to life.

At Original BTC we have both. From talented designers to artisan glass craftsmen. We have everything needed to create innovative lighting designs that become the focus of every room. To see our designs and understand the work that goes into each product, speak to one of our experts today on 0845 094 1858 or visit our website