Whether serving as part of a centerpiece or infusing a buffet with an appetizing glow, table lighting has to add flair without glare. Creative manufacturers are rising to the occasion with budget-conscious, setup-friendly products that provide a bright focal point, but don't compete with ambient lighting.
“The incredible growth in the candle segment requires manufacturers to continue to redefine their products both stylistically and technologically,” says Karl Gooden, managing director of San Francisco-based Xana. Candle makers who cater to the event industry also have to make sure candles don't compromise ambience or dining experience with overwhelming scent.
To meet the challenge, Xana offers 1-ounce clear wax votives and mini clear wax pillars. The products are Xana's most popular with event clients, Gooden says, citing exceptional ease of use and subtle fragrance. Also appealing to event pros is the sleek look of a completely transparent candle and a burn time up to 50 percent longer than standard paraffin candles — both results of the products' patented polymer-based formula, he adds.
Candle Corp. of America's Amy Garrard says the Des Plaines, Ill.-based manufacturer has been busy keeping up with rapidly changing style demands. The company recently released its Ambria Table Lighting line to provide events with lighting that blends beauty and disposability. Available in 5- and 8-hour versions, Ambria PetiteLites come in green, red and clear, while glittering Ambria PetiteLites Sparkle Gels come in a range of bright and pastel colors. Both are designed for one-time use and are recyclable, Garrard says. She adds that company analysis has shown users to save 15 percent to 20 percent on PetiteLites versus votives in glass holders. Plus, she notes, “Every time you put our candle on the table, it's sparkling and clean.”
According to table lamp manufacturer Lynn Wells, “The biggest change in table lighting has been the influence of the designer on commercial jobs.” The president of Marietta, Ga.-Based Table Decor International says she welcomes tough design demands, which challenge her to “cater to the designer with hand-painted finishes, dressmaking details on shades, elegant trims and wonderful fabrics.”
Manufactured under the trade name Chandelyn, Table Decor's hottest event products are liquid-fuel and battery table lamps, Wells says. She describes the units as “elegant, unique and durable,” explaining that her standard shades are hand-sewn from flame-retardant fabrics, and her lamps are powered by 30-hour liquid fuel cells or rechargeable batteries. Designers also can request custom shades to match specific decor or color schemes, or can take advantage of such innovations as pieces based on historical French and English originals, Wells adds.
According to Kenneth Heitman, general manager of Germantown, Wis.-based importer Home Decoration Accessories, silver mint julep cups, large silver candelabras with center floral bowls, and table lamps with glass-bead shades are selling well in today's event market. He says clients appreciate the upscale elegance of the Indian-made products — a result of “massive improvements in the quality of silver plating and lacquer finish from overseas” during his 30 years in the business.
In addition to high quality, Home Decoration clients benefit from a commitment to service. “Our service policy includes a provision that orders for in-stock items placed before noon are shipped the same day to established accounts or new credit-card customers,” Heitman says. “This policy has been developed specifically for the party and rental industry.”
For events where ambient lighting is dim or dark, FloraLyte from New York-based Acolyte Systems is proving popular for illuminating tables. Company vice president of sales and marketing Masa Yamazaki says that's because FloraLyte “gives the designer the ability to add an accented lighting effect to just about any design element.”
Describing the product as a “disposable, wireless, miniature, lightweight, cool-to-the-touch, self-powered lighting unit,” he explains that each Floralyte will emit 24 to 36 hours of light when used in open air, and about 12 hours of light when submerged. Applications of FloraLyte include floral centerpieces, ice sculptures and table props, he says, counting Covington, La.-based Fancy Faces and Orlando, Fla.-based Ice Magic among fans of the product.
Yamazaki says a trend toward “table and centerpiece designs that include discreet and independent light sources” is a result of stricter fire safety restrictions and a boom in modern and futuristic themes. He predicts the trend will continue, and says Acolyte will keep pace, providing table lighting products that “are easy to manipulate, produce various effects and are cost-effective.”
Acolyte Systems, 888/226-5983; Candle Corp. of America, 877/478-3766; Home Decoration Accessories, 800/827-2772; Table Decor International, 770/432-1156; Xana, 866/926-2466