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A focus on lighting design. A look at Steampunk.

Updated: Aug 16, 2023

The influence of Steampunk

Steampunk style over the years has had a huge influence on fashion, interiors and lighting design. Here at Stage Left Lux many of the feature lighting we create naturally have a Steam Punk twist due to the materials and methods we use to construct them.

Steampunk cogs and lighting

What is Steampunk?

You may be familiar with the term Steampunk, but where did it come from and what is it, and what does it mean?

Steampunk can trace the roots of its inspiration back to the Victorian Times, when the Industrial Revolution took hold and engineering was beginning to reach its height.

The age of industrialisation and the evolution of never seen before steam-powered technology, machines, engines, trains and pumps were starting to appear on the landscape.

Nikola Tesla is an icon of steampunk; he was best known for his experimental work with electricity and electrical engineering experimentations.

A new innovative era, with a traditional twist

This new innovative age in the 1800's inspired a new era of science fiction novelists who dreamt up stories involving these new machines and create futuristic fantastical works of fiction. These works of fiction often ark back to simpler times but with a modernistic fantasy twist, often involving traditional Victorian style costume but with robots and machinery of the future. A great example of this is Doctor Who, where robots, space & time travel and a Victorian style detective collide!

One early example of Steampunk literature is Aventurine Clockwork written in 1827 by James Cox, a clockwork robot built by Thomas Wedgewood. It may look like it’s wearing clothes, but it’s actually not.

The Aventurine Clockwork is actually wearing a clockwork suit that was made to look like clothes. This is one of the first examples of steampunk, as it incorporates both old and new technologies into one object.

However, the word Steampunk didn't come into existence until much later on when the phrase was first used by novelist K. W. Jeter, a science fiction author who created it in the late 1980s as an alternative to the word cyberpunk. Jeter was looking for a word to capture the genre of works that took place in 19th-century Victorian settings and featured fantastical steam-powered technology. The fact that steampunk was coined decades after it first came into being is fitting for the unique blend of past and present that defines the genre.

Steampunk is often referred to as 'Retro-futuristic'' looking backwards and forwards at the same time.

Steampunk has had a huge influence on interior design styles and lighting design

The common themes and characteristics that you will see in steampunk style interiors are; the use of copper pipe, industrial brass fixings, pressure gauges, clocks as well as the use of mechanical parts such as pistons, cogs and valves used together with traditional materials such as reclaimed timber.

Items such as copper pipe can be twisted and shaped to form beautiful geometrically shaped conduits and are mixed together with Edison style filament bulbs to create unique steampunk lighting pieces.

Together these create an eclectic eccentric unique style which fits in well with most settings as it offers a blend to bridge the gap between modernism and traditional heritage themed interiors.

How do Stage Left Lux fit in to this?

A lot of our lighting designs take inspiration directly from Steampunk styles.

Here at Stage Left Lux many of our lighting designs are inspired by the good old days of steam. In our lighting designs the steampunk influence often happens naturally due to the reclaimed objects that we use to make our lamps.

We look for new ways to use old objects and repurpose them into something new, a fitting retro-futuristic outlook.

We take old redundant objects from the past and transform them into purposeful feature lighting which are often wacky by-design but beautiful and aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

Many of the lighting features that we create feature objects such as old mechanical tools, reclaimed industrial objects, vintage car parts and bits of old machinery, pressure gauges and dials, broken musical instruments, and even once considered modern but now redundant technology such as old landline telephones can be repurposed into wonderfully awe-inspiration lamps. We've even been known to turn an old Victorian Fire Helmet into a lampshade.

Old and reclaimed & vintage objects and materials such as copper pipe, industrial steel junction boxes, reclaimed timber, are combined together with modern technology such as LED lights and Edison style bulbs which come together to create lamps and feature lighting with a traditional yet, modernist-futuristic industrial look with a space-age twist.

Explore our lighting shop to see more of our steampunk style lighting designs.

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