Photographer: Steven Brahms
Stylist: Sophie Pera
Since making the first one, about 10 years ago, Lindsey Adelman has watched her Branching chandelier, with its handblown glass globes budding from a sinewy, multipronged brass stem, become a design status symbol—and a fixture in splashy shelter-magazine spreads. (One even hangs in the Brooklyn apartment where Adelman lives with her husband, Ian, a senior VP of digital design at The New York Times, and their son, Finn, 12.) The brilliance of the piece, for both the client and the designer, is that its design is constantly evolving: Over the years, Adelman has swapped in pink or smoked glass; added fierce, thornlike appendages; played with the chandelier’s overall geometry—so it’s rare to come across exactly the same one twice. And while Adelman still works with the same glass artist and the same local machine shop she has since the beginning, she has branched out in other ways—designing mirrors, candelabra, even jewelry. Recently, she visited the Polich Tallix foundry in upstate New York and is looking forward to working more in bronze. “I feel insanely lucky to be able to be creative every day,” she says.
Adelman’s workday look tends toward black jeans, a black button-down, and boots or sneakers (also black). While her studio does not have a dress code, she thought it would be fun to outfit the whole crew in white Tyvek jumpsuits for the photo shoot for this story. Indeed, there is a performative aspect to almost everything she does. In 2012, for the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, in New York, Adelman set up a workshop at the Javits Center, where her staff assembled lights throughout the event. For an exhibition last year at Wright gallery, on the Upper East Side, she produced a music video, “Show Me,” in which many of the studio team, herself included, had cameos as backup dancers. And for the Collective Design fair, in May, she made a two-channel video installation that explores subjects close to her heart: creation and destruction. “Things break when you’re having fun,” Adelman says. “It’s a good sign of life.”
Adelman, who produces about a thousand pieces per year, ranging from the relatively diminutive two-bulb Agnes Sconce to the explosive Boom Boom Burst, recently transformed a storage space in Brooklyn’s Industry City into a studio, and has opened an outpost, in Los Angeles. Her headquarters remain in NoHo—a dangerous neighborhood, she notes, for shopping. Her nighttime look is a black dress, usually worn over black leather leggings, which she can get from any number of designer pals—Rachel Comey, Maria Cornejo, Tess Giberson—who have shops within walking distance. Perhaps not surprising for a woman who knows how a chandelier can be a statement piece, Adelman likes to top off her utilitarian-chic ensembles with a bold necklace from Marni (the store in Milan just happens to be right around the corner from the gallery of her dealer there, Nina Yashar). “I’m always losing earrings,” Adelman says. Unlike most of us, however, she can just make herself new ones.
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Photography assistant: Peter B. Samuels; hair: Adam Markarian for Kerastase at De Facto; makeup: Kristin Hilton for Chanel at The Wall Group; fashion assistant: Dylan Hawkinson.