|David Tonnesen of Somerville, Massachusetts, uses his
artistic talents to create unusual, custom
lighting for homes and restaurants.
“There are two parts, form and
function,” he says. ``The function part is
the light, but mostly people are concerned
about how the fixture looks.”
“I look at it as sculpture,” he adds.
David often plays the role of problemsolver.
“For example,” he says, “lighting
has been designed for a dining room and
it just doesn’t work. They need more light
or want a piece that stands out.
“The dining room table size
determines what goes on,” he adds.
“Huge tables need a long chandelier with
several light sources, six, eight, or twelve.”
Another challenge, he says, is, “A lot of
homes have huge entry foyers that are 30-
feet high and they don’t know what to put
there.” One solution might be sconces,
which make the space more intimate.
David, who is a metal sculptor, says,
“sconces are big in every room,” except
“They can be a point of interest and
look good off as well as on,” he says. “I
love perforated metal or screens on
sconces. It casts an amazing shadow and
changes the feel of a room.”
He also likes lighting fixtures that are
asymmetrical—such as lights that snake
down over a kitchen island—because they
stand out against the geometric lines of a
Even light bulbs become sculpture to
David. One of his favorite designs is a
bulb wrapped in monofilament, which is
like clear fishing line.
“It’s one of the few bulbs that wouldn’t
need a shade,” he explains. “It gives
sparkle, but doesn’t blind you. It’s a whole
different feel. When it’s dim, it’s threedimensional
and the inside looks like a
David said color kinetics can be used
to create mood and interest, such as a
sculpture lit from within, with color that
“Usually the client determines how far
we go,” he says. “I have proposed color
changing and things that move and there
seems to be a lot of potential, then reality
kicks in. It’s That was fun, but let’s focus.’
“I work within budgets,” he says.
But, he adds, “People tend to save up for
“It’s exciting,” he says.
“There’s so much more than what’s
offered at Home Depot.”