Sonneman’s Revival of a Classic Line Gives Lighting Designers More Versatility
Lighting designers reflect on why the Suspenders system is adaptable to almost any space.
While lighting fixtures can often be sculptural, few have the ability to be sculpted. With an array of simple elements, configurable into countless striking forms, Sonneman’s Suspenders system gives designers a unique and versatile medium with stunning applications in a range of projects.
“The versatility of the Suspenders system allows the lighting fixtures to easily adapt to diverse spaces, regardless of the size or scale of the project,” says Meghann Duran, a designer at Gensler. The firm recently incorporated Suspenders into their Phoenix CBRE Workplace 360 project, a 75,000-square-foot, free-address workplace. “Easily configurable, Suspenders allows designers and clients to achieve incredible results, in both light output and the less tangible, emotional responses.”
The sculptural collection’s original concept dates back to the 1980s. But with new technologies viable, the updated design offers LED illumination and “a kit of parts,” as Duran refers to it, which, in turn, open up a whole new level of possibilities. “The ability of Suspenders to act as a kit of parts was ideal for this workplace project because they were easily scalable for the different space types,” Duran says. “The ability to pick and choose the pieces that we wanted allowed us to achieve semi-custom results within a reduced timeframe.”
The system is simultaneously varied and spare. Single or clustered luminaires are suspended from vertical hangers which gently descend from horizontal Power Bars. These essentials can be configured within eight primary categories—ranging from Linear to Zig Zag—and articulated with an ever-expanding selection of glass or acrylic covers, available in an assortment of shapes and forms.
This versatility makes it possible to meet the needs of even the most dramatic spaces, including the Marquee Suite at the new Zachary Hotel, which offers one-of-a-kind views of adjacent Wrigley Stadium from its curved glass façade. “We are so pleased with the installation,” says Lisa Chervinsky, senior hospitality designer at Stantec. “It is a truly defining feature in the space.”
Modular and customizable, the system can work with the particulars of almost any interior. “One of our challenges when selecting a light fixture was to make sure that it complemented the signature structural elements,” says architect Jonathan Brinkley, a senior project manager at Excel Engineering. The firm recently designed the new corporate headquarters of Fairway Independent Mortgage in Madison, Wisconsin defined by massive timber beams and columns united with steel. “We needed a light and airy fixture but also a big enough footprint. Because we weren’t locked in to a specific catalog size, we were able to customize the layout to perfectly fill each space.”
Along with clusters and grids, Suspenders can also be configured as single elements. “Suspenders works great because they reduce in scale all the way down to single luminaire sconce lights,” Brinkley says. “We used these small pendant lights in long corridor locations to bring small, warm points of light to a pedestrian level.”
“There are over 20 different light fixtures that can be attached to the base structure which gives you limitless configurations,” says Jarin Broadbent, of Galaxie Lighting. “So you can change the look pretty dramatically from soft modern to bold contemporary, for example.”
Broadbent recently installed Suspenders into a residential renovation and addition project featuring an interior fish koi pond. With the pitched roof above the pond made from glass, “the only option was to suspend something from the beams,” says Broadbent. “The challenge was getting enough light and scale, and to make it look amazing.”
The result: a 16-by-24-foot custom fixture built off the Suspenders Gallery Matrix configuration that echoes the 4-by-4-foot fixture above the staircase. “There’s no other system like it,” says Broadbent. “It’s like Lincoln Logs on steroids.”