Creating a traditional lamp shade is an exercise of architecture in miniature.
I’ve been keeping Paola Napoleone’s lampshades to myself since seeing them in a magazine. I’m possessive about lamp and shade sources and my eccentric gene fell hard for these quirky creations – some modern and some suited to Asian lamps, which are my exclusive obsession. Like the skin of a modern building they are constructed of a metal frame plus a covering, usually fabric but also paper and other materials. Napoleone’s are as fanciful as couture gowns with colorful names to match and, for me, as elegant. Her Mr. Tower pair [top] has whimsical abstract bases tented with trapezoidal color-block shades, each with a 3-D diamond motif at the center.
With Rome as her home base, it’s no surprise to see Baroque-inspired shades in Napoleone’s collection. The turned-post base topped by an elaborately curved hat-like shade makes perfect sense the moment you remember the elaborate stone scrolls and twisting columns found in Rome’s most famous churches.
So much of the greatest 20th century lighting design is Italian and, for me, these Passetto floor lamps follow that tradition. The shape of the bases nod to Giacometti and the crisp silhouette of the shades have a luxurious texture that contrasts wonderfully with this metal finish.
The simplicity of the bases points up the amazing lines and details of these Chinese Pagoda lamps which are among my favorites. They make me want to ditch the Chinese Emperor and Empress figurines in my bedroom and opt for shades that carry the concept on their own.