Westchester Illumination Specialist: Mari-Lou Nania

Tips on lighting from Post Chester’s Patdo Light Studio.

After earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree followed by a stint in the hotel industry, Mari-Lou Nania began her career more than 24 years ago at Patdo Light Studio. Founded in 1973 in Scarsdale, Patdo has emerged as one of the area’s preeminent sources for upscale lighting fixtures and design, favored by top architects and interior designers—a position due in no small part to Nania’s skill in developing its showroom to reflect the latest in cutting-edge design trends. Back when Patdo moved to its current location in Port Chester 13 years ago, “lighting was much more traditional,” recalls Nania. “People wanted safer, Colonial-type designs and not anything trendy or funky.” But times have changed—and lighting has changed with them. “Now, everything’s moved over to modern,” she says. “Ten years ago, you had pendant bell-jar lanterns run down every hallway and over the island in the kitchen,” she says. “I can’t remember the last time I sold one.”

Today, even homes that are traditional on the outside have interiors that are much more modern, says Nania. “People prefer an uncluttered look.” Moreover, she adds, homeowners are very educated now and want to know what the best product is and that it is unique to them. “They want their home not to resemble anyone else’s,” she notes, “and modern is more creative. Plus, they’re willing to take more chances with color and shape.” So, what is Nania selling instead of those bell jars? “Some way-out sculptural, almost kinetic, hanging fixtures,” she says. “They’re like another piece of art—really outside the box.” And homeowners are increasingly drawn to modern pieces made of metal—chrome, bronze, or nickel—as well as “some very cool modern stuff from Italy and Spain made from bendable plastics in these crazy shapes and neat colors.”

Leucos from Italy and Marset from Spain are two European manufacturers whose modern designs Nania finds particularly exciting. “Their pieces are like fashions for the home,” she says. “Fashion-forward.” Domestically, she likes Tech Lighting. “They started out doing track lighting and have gone on to do beautiful, forward-thinking, decorative lighting,” she says, “and even unique square-shaped recessed lighting.” Indeed, Nania is starting to see more recessed lighting. “It’s a little cleaner-looking,” she notes. “For a while, recessed slowed down; people didn’t want it because it was so modern and they didn’t want all the holes. That’s changing.”

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One huge trend with staying power, she says, is the fabric drum. “And now that manufacturers are customizing them—long stems, short stems, so many shapes and sizes, and tons of fabric choices—they are really unique.” 

Bright idea: For a fresh pop of color, add an orange or gray fabric drum pendant in a bedroom, kitchen, foyer—or really anywhere, says Nania. “They are just so hot.”

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