Commissioned lighting is always a blend of form and function mixed with the specific needs of the clients and the space. After designing and creating lighting for over 2 decades now, we have worked on a wide variety of projects with a wide variety of clients. But this project was a particularly interesting challenge...
Once a church in the town of Creede Colorado, the building was moved to its current location on a peak overlooking this small mountain town where it sat unused for years.
Now being meticulously restored to its original grandeur. Forward thinking philanthropists are gathering caring hands and hearts to create a transformation. It will one day soon shine again, as a very special Community Center for the town of Creede.
This new gathering space will be used for a wide variety of special events, weddings, musical performances, plays and more. A gorgeous setting - and new life! - for this quaint, quietly elegant church gone community center. A real jewel perched on a mountain top.
Here is where we came in:
We were asked to design and create lighting for this evolving space. Hmmm… where to begin?
The design needed to be graceful, warm and inviting. We felt it was important to be ‘timeless’ – echoing both the historic church as well as its new function as a gathering space for all. And of course, the feel of the design needed to do justice to the space and the beautiful setting that surrounded it. High quality, one-of-a-kind and handmade would be fitting.
To get started on design ideas, we visited Creede Colorado. As visual people it always helps to get a look at and feel for the place…. even though I had been there before in a past life – REALLY!
Well, at least when I was a pre-teen, which feels like a past life at this age ;) As a child, my parents and I had vacationed a few times to Creede Colorado. We had liked the area so much, that we had returned. So it had always been a place of very fond childhood memories for me.
I remember sketching by the Rio Grande River near the town and I still have old photos taken (and noted in marker) by my mother. Even one of me along the River....My love of nature may have been ignited right there!
The lighting design:
With all of that, where do we begin to design appropriate lighting for such a worthy space in such a special setting? Tying the lighting design into the existing surroundings is a good place to start. After all, that is where it will ‘live’. It needs to fit in.
So, on our visit, we soaked in the surroundings searching for a design spark. Then found it…
The small cemetery fencing out back of the church building and the beautiful shapes of the windows of the church….
And so began the design concept...
The cemetery fence posts were the EXACT same iron corner post designs that we had purchased years ago at an architectural salvage yard, making them into lighting for our own home and studio. We loved the design from way back. It would be a great take off point – and timeless! Bronze, a timeless material, would be very fitting for the sconces that would circumvent the walls, while being extremely durable for this setting.
The bronze sconces in process... We created 14 total.
The bronze sconces finished and installed....washing the walls with light and shadow.
The chandelier’s function was to light the entire center of the building. Keeping in mind that it would need to be large enough to ‘do its duty’, we proposed a larger center body with attached pendants to keep the piece feeling lighter and airier for its size. A 2-tier design would fit well to complement the height of the interior space.
With such a high ceiling height, installing the chandelier was NOT an easy task!
The wood used to build the chandelier tied it into the old wood floor in the building, cherished for its aged patina, harking back to many who have passed over the old planks. The wood panels on the chandelier were hand carved by John to add variety and texture, and to 'soften' the piece. The decorative bottom adds visual interest and was left opened to keep maintenance to a minimum in this community space.
LED bulbs were used throughout for conservation and also minimal maintenance needs.
Finally, the glass... a slight amber textured glass with an antique quality that would diffuse the bulb silhouettes. The same amber glass that was used for the circle window above the front entry during the restoration! That glass was first chosen for the window after studying old plans and even finding glass shards on the ground that were used to select the appropriate historically accurate glass. This was a nice subtle visual tie, from the lighting to the window element.
The lighting gives off a warm and welcoming glow. Now, inviting the community into this versatile space, crowned by tasteful, timeless lighting. To travelers passing by, that warm glow will be seen from the valley below, offering a beautiful vignette of a welcoming beacon on the hill in Creede Colorado.