Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Search for Light Fixture Leads to So Much More!

There was such a huge response to the custom light fixtures seen in the photos I had posted from Thom Filicia's portfolio that I had to track down who made them. It involves a husband, a wife, some interior design, a little welding, photography, a dragon, and a few topiaries, all of which I will explain in a minute. First, let's start with the light fixtures.

The light fixtures are made from cold rolled steel which is hand fabricated and fitted with restoration glass. I think you can see it best in the photo above in another Thom Filicia interior. Each one is custom designed for the space it is to occupy. The restoration glass throws a spider web pattern on the walls when lit.

The line started when the husband and wife due of Matthew Larkin and Elaine Grant of Grant Larkin, designed a house up in the country where they live and had the notion of doing the lighting in a Japanese/modern aesthetic. The architect Gray Davis of Meyer Davis Studios saw the finished product and commissioned them to design one for his office which he shared at the time with Thom Filicia. That's how they came to Thom's attention. Since then they have done a number lighting fixtures for him and many other designers. Grant Larkin does not currently have a website but they may be reached at 413-698-2599.

Matt and his wife Lainie started their design business 20 years ago, after Matt was let go from Decorative Arts Studio, a furniture restoration company that specialized in high end Deco (Tony DeLorenzo, Michael Chow etc.). The owner had a habit of "cleaning house" every five years or so. Matt graduated from Skidmore with a double major in Art History and American Studies with a minor in Studio. Their first commission was to redo the original "Alice's Restaurant" of Arlo Guthrie fame on Main Street in Stockbridge, MA. That was seen by an Ad Executive who commissioned them to do an office in the Pineapple building, corner of Broadway and Houston. A friend saw that and their first residential job was a 3500 SF penthouse in Sutton Place.

They admit that they were total rubes and didn't even know what a CFA was at the time but it seems like they used it to their advantage by having almost everything custom designed and fabricated which set them apart. They used blacksmiths, bronze foundries, textile artists etc. Matt admits that it has "gone uphill (and sometimes down!) from there and says that "a great part of the satisfaction of my job is dealing with all the trades. Lainie, who has a theatre background was as ignorant as to the "workings" of the business, but has an inherent style sense that is off the charts." So the two country rubes jumped in and learned as they went and their interior design business continues to grow to this day.

If that wasn't enough to keep them busy, Matt Larkin started designing topiaries! He admits, "that came about because I was looking for an excuse to be outdoors more." A friend of his became the director of Green Animals in Newport about 15 years ago and during a visit in the winter he saw the topiary in the snow and it was just one of those moments he said. He took an adult education class in welding and figured out how to make frames which led to House and Garden naming him one of the "New Tastemakers" in 2005 for his topiary work. Are you starting to get the feeling that Matt doesn't do anything halfway?!


After that he was commissioned to do the exterior decoration of The London Hotel NYC with David Collins Studio and will also create the planters for the new London Hotel West Hollywood. For more information and images, visit Matt's website Black Burn Farm.



You may also have seen that Matt's work featured in the Neiman Marcus Fantasy Gift section of their Christmas catalog last year. The Dragon Topiary was 100 feet long and had gold leafed horn, claws, teeth and fins and blown glass eyes. It was so spectacular that it made it onto the TODAY show and Good Morning America. Of course, it might have also been because it cost over $35,000!

Lest you think that was all, there's Matt's personal photography hobby that has led to a collaboration with the members of the group Rites of Passage and a recent book entitled, Suspended in Time. I will warn you that the photos while haunting and beautiful, are also deeply disturbing and may not be for everyone. But the book will be honored for photography at the Independent Publishers Book Awards ceremony in March so someone obviously liked it!

I'm so glad that my quest for a light fixture led me on this amazing discovery! I hope this post will serve as inspiration to anyone who is thinking about starting their own business or thinking about learning a new hobby. You just never know where it might take you! I also think that Matthew Larkin might just be giving Julian Schnabel a run for his money in the modern day Renaissance Man department. I have a feeling it's a only a matter of time before he directs a movie or picks up a paintbrush!

22 comments:

Mrs. Blandings said...

I love post like this that start out with a little spark of an idea and take you on a journey. Great fun to take us along with you.

beachgrl said...

Thanks for all the info. The lighting is beautiful! I also love the topiaries.

Easy and Elegant Life said...

Wow! When that guy sets his mind to doing something... that's the truly inspiring part.

Style Court said...

The dragon topiary was so much fun :)

The Paris Apartment said...

Lots of great ideas and information. LOVE the twist on the topiaries and the book is wild!

Habitually Chic said...

Mrs. Blandings, It was a fun journey. I love learning more about creative people and what makes them tick!

Habitually Chic said...

Beachgirl, so glad you enjoyed it!

Habitually Chic said...

Easy and Elegant, makes me feel bad for the days I sit around watching reality tv!

Habitually Chic said...

Style Court, I can't believe the same person who made the light fixtures made the topiary. Amazing!

Habitually Chic said...

Paris Apartment, I hope he does another book that's a little more up my alley.

Pink Wallpaper said...

wow what a great story...thanks for sharing!

katiedid said...

Great information! That Matt is a regular Edward Scissorhands! And I had to peek at the book. I had heard about it, but this was the first I have seen. Your description is apt. Great post!

JLC Studio said...

Thanks so much for posting about the light fixtures! These are incredible!!

Richie Designs said...

Damn you find the coolest shit!

Habitually Chic said...

Pink Wallpaper, so glad you enjoyed it!

Habitually Chic said...

Katie, I can't believe you were brave enough to actually check out the book! Kudos to you!

Habitually Chic said...

JLC Studio, I think the fact that they are handmade makes them even more fabulous!

Habitually Chic said...

Richie Design, I think that is the best comment I have ever received!!! You're the best!

Abbey Goes Design Scouting said...

I love the topiaries! Great blog, I just found you via Decorno!

Joanna Goddard said...

that dragon is so amazing. i just watched a documentary on on topiary designer, believe it or not! :)

pve design said...

Matt can certainly borrow my brush or my garden shears anytime the mood strikes. Boy is he cute and I would love to have the only topiary - a modern one
on the block. Or perhaps, I'd settle for a new light fixture.

Anonymous said...

Thom Filicia - he is so talented. Those living room photos are amazing! New obsession.

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