They are not the latest cliques of beautiful people, but something quite old and plain: exposed-filament bulbs, energy-guzzling reproductions of Thomas Alva Edison’s first light bulb. And despite the escalating push to go green and switch to compact fluorescent or perhaps because of it — their antique glow has spread like a power surge.
Whether in hip hangouts tapping into the popular Victorian industrial look or elegant rooms seeking to warm up their atmosphere, the bulb first became a staple for restaurant designers, in part because it emulates candlelight and flatters both dinner and diner.
The filament light is now so ubiquitous that it has prompted a backlash among those who deem it overexposed — a badge of retro cool that is fast becoming the restaurant-design equivalent of the Converse All Star.
And yet, given all those burning amber threads dangling from cords in New York, Toronto, Montreal etc., they would appear to be far from done. They remain a go-to design element, like wheatgrass in a box some years ago, for their casual air and winks at history.
The bulbs are now popular all over the world, in Germany, England, Australia and even Hong Kong. In countries with bans on incandescent lights in homes, the product is marketed as a novelty bulb.
In the United States and Canada, the craze has spilled over into home decor, with demand high enough that even mainstream retailers like Pottery Barn, Rona, Home Depot, Lowes, Restoration Hardware and Anthropologie sell the lights for $9 to $20 each.
The bulbs can be used on a chandelier, table lamp with a clear shade or wired fixtures.