The Original Light for Counters, Islands

Original Over-Counter Light by JWhenever you see a kitchen island or long counter in a home, typically you will find multiple pendants lighting the work space from above. From a decorating point of view, these look very nice. But from a lighting point of view, you can wind up with shadows and dark spots in an area where good lighting is crucial. You don’t want to be slicing and dicing in the dark!

I have wanted to create an overhead fixture that provides bright, even light over linear spaces for a long time. The Original Over-Counter Light from my new company, BlackJack Lighting, is that design.  Two energy-saving 32W linear fluorescent T8 lamps behind a special prismatic acrylic lens do the job quite nicely. The lens prevents glare and diffuses the light evenly without reducing its brightness.

OVER COUNTER IN OFFICE at 6.02.39 PMI know what you’re thinking: Why restrict the Original Over-Counter Light to a spot above counters and kitchen islands? I agree! It’s a great choice for other rooms. Consider using it above desks, in long hallways, or laundry rooms: In short, any place you need bright, even illumination from a great-looking, energy-efficient fixture. The Original Over-Counter Light,and other BlackJack Lighting designs are now available on Y Lighting.


Attending ICFF?


If you will be in New York next weekend for the International  Contemporary Furniture Fair, please meet me at Philips, Booth 1186. Click the graphic for times and dates. A prototype of my new Aradess™ OLED table lamp will be shown publicly for the first time.  You’ve got to see the marriage of high design and high technology  in person to truly appreciate what’s next for decorative lighting design–and the newest design from Blackjack Lighting, of course.

Introducing Blackjack Lighting

BJL EDGE2 front 02

Set to launch in fall 2013, Blackjack Lighting is a design- and technology-driven US-based lighting manufacturer headquartered in suburban Chicago. Blackjack Lighting is headed by award-winning lighting designer Stephen Blackman, President and Chief Design Officer.

Visit our website at

The Blackjack product line will be sold and distributed by Illuminating Experiences. Architects, interior designers, lighting specifiers and sophisticated homeowners comprise the audience for Blackjack’s high-quality, leading-edge designs.

Screen Shot 2013-05-10 at 4.19.05 PMBlackjack Lighting designs are not only beautiful and original, they are among the first of a new generation of decorative lighting fixtures specifically designed with LED and OLED light sources for general, ambient and task illumination. The entire Blackjack product line is designed exclusively by Stephen Blackman, a lighting industry design veteran and thought leader. The company’s high-end signature series, Stephen Blackman For Blackjack Lighting, launches this fall with Aradess™, one of the world’s first OLED table lamps. Aradess is powered by Lumiblade OLED G350s from Philips.

During his 30-year career, Blackman’s designs have evolved as technology shifted from incandescent and halogen lighting, fluorescent and compact fluorescent light sources to LEDs and, most recently, OLEDS. Going forward, Stephen Blackman will continue to lead the industry; Blackjack Lighting will be among the first to incorporate emerging lighting technology into new designs.

Send emails to

Cover of the Rolling Stone, Almost

Several of my designs are on the cover of Kichler’s new online Energy Efficient Lighting Catalog. I’d like to think this is another sign that fluorescent lighting has come into its own. Meant for commercial and residential applications, these latest Blackman designs bring fluorescent lighting another step closer to modern tastes and preferences. This handy link takes you right there.

No time for web surfing? Then please sit back and enjoy a summary slide show of my new work, below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Don’t Let LEDs Scare You

LED light sources offer lighting manufacturers great opportunities to create new fixture types, new fixture construction and new fixture looks. Then why are LED light fixtures so much like non-LED fixtures? Is fear getting in the way of innovation? To date we have seen a lot of interesting lighting fixture development in the commercial and industrial arenas. Because LED lighting technology is still evolving, many manufacturers have agreed that the industry needs standardized testing to help end users evaluate and compare these LED light sources. These tests tightly evaluate individual LEDs for life expectancy, color temperature, CRI, and lumens per watt. The entire fixture is also put through equally exhaustive testing to verify the fixture efficacy, and fixture life expectancy when the LEDs are operating inside the fixture. For certain applications this information is informative and useful; for manufacturers deciding which light source to use in their product and for specifiers making a purchasing recommendation for a building lighting plan or exterior application, these are good facts to know.

Unfortunately this rigorous testing and constantly changing technology has scared the daylights out of manufacturers in the residential side of the lighting market and kept them from developing many new LED decorative products. The majority of decorative lighting manufacturers have decided to sit on the sidelines until LED technology is as easy to use as incandescent technology. Most lighting manufacturers really just want to buy an “LED light source”  and stick it in a decorative housing that was not designed for LEDs. As a result, in the mainstream U.S.  decorative residential lighting, there is little excitement to be seen in products with LED light sources.

The problem is that what is a good idea for commercial lighting is not always directly applicable to residential lighting products. It’s one thing to use LEDs as high performance light sources in utilitarian fixtures, and quite another to use the aesthetic lighting qualities of small, bright LEDs to explore new ways to provide light in a decorative setting.

Decorative lighting by its nature is not primarily about optimizing lamp efficiency, it is primarily about decoration! Yes, price and energy efficiency are important, but frankly these are secondary considerations when developing products that you hope people will eventually purchase. The look, style and decoration are the reasons that consumers become initially attracted to lighting fixtures. Concerns about price and efficiency are just the factors that will help the consumers rationalize the purchase, one way or the other.

You couldn’t tell Rembrandt that it would be more “time” efficient to paint with only 14 brush strokes per square inch of canvas. Would Picasso care that it is more “cost” effective to only use only two paint colors when creating his paintings? Well, the same holds true for decorative lighting. Decorative lighting is about the look of the fixture and the interesting light, sparkle and illumination patterns it produces. Sometimes to get an interesting look, you do use more light and energy then the minimum that might be predetermined from the Illuminating Engineering Society handbook. I feel most homeowners would prefer to have exciting and interesting lighting in their home, not the bare minimum.

To this day, consumers do not judge between incandescent or fluorescent decorative fixtures by comparing the lumens per watt rating of an 8 arm chandelier with exposed 40 Watt flame tipped candelabra based lamps to the fixture efficacy of a six arm fixture with 50W halogen lamps inside glass shades.  I don’t believe the wattage differences or fixture efficacy are major concerns for homeowners when they are in the market for LED lighting, either.

My message is clear to decorative lighting manufacturers: Explore this great light source, find the decorative opportunities that LEDs possess, and then go boldly into this new area of lighting. No need to worry that your beautiful LED dining room chandelier is not as efficacious as the LED street light in front of your home!

Follow me, I will show you the path to the future.

Who Moved My A Lamp?

Does the government have a right to tell us which light bulbs to buy? U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann says no. In her Tea Party response to President Obama’s State of the Union speech, the Minnesota congresswoman asserted that the federal government “now tells us which light bulbs to buy.” Her message: the government is inappropriately intruding into our lives and our everyday decisions.

On the surface you can see the typical political lines being drawn in a debate about the role of government in our lives, but if you examine this issue a little deeper it is interesting to see who really stands to benefit. Read more

Kichler Does Blackman

Kichler introduced more of my designs at the recent Dallas International Lighting Market. A new series I designed called Laval includes a chandelier (that’s the six-light version at left), wall sconce and a semi-flush mount. Botella is a new ceiling fan that is shown in a choice of black or white. You can get more information from an online catalog on the Kichler website. A small gray camera icon on the catalog page opens a short video clip packed with details. I invite you to take a look, here are the links.

Botella Fan

Laval Chandelier, pendant sconce and flush mount

I Want to Lead the LED Revolution

January is traditionally a busy month for the lighting industry. I’m busy, too. My clients, T-Opto, and Kichler Lighting, are introducing products I’ve been working on for months. I am especially excited about T-Opto’s new modular LED components for the OEM market. One LED system is designed specifically for wall sconces. The other LED we designed goes inside mini pendants. That’s a view of  one possible application above. I think these designs are the fast, cost-effective and reliable solutions manufacturers have been looking for. What do you think?  Read the full news story and see more photos

1,000 Points of Light

Most incandescent lighting decorative fixtures are just that—decorative. The stylized housing surrounding the incandescent lamp technology adds nothing to the efficacy of the lamp, but means everything to the look and feel, and desirability, of the fixture.

Everyone is talking about LEDs and their lumens per watt, yet not enough people are talking about the other potential LED technology gives you. One area of untapped potential is quantity.  LEDs lend themselves to being used easily  in large numbers. You have a small, but moderate output light source that  fortunately works with a low voltage current.  Except for Christmas decoration products, few manufacturers are taking advantage of the glowing sculptural possibilities that LEDs can offer.

Currently, we expect to see a pendant fixture lighted with a single high output lamp source. Why are we trying to put  LEDs in lighting fixture forms that are characteristically incandescent? Few are exploring the new forms that  LED fixtures can take.

One manufacturer has fortunately taken up this challenge. The Raimond LED pendant lamp by Moooi (shown above) is a great example of what LEDs can be. Lamp efficacy is a secondary concern here, because most people who purchase this fixture will buy it for the delicate tensile structure that has been designed to work in harmony with LED technology. The new look and design language of this lamp source sells this fixture, not the examination of the accompanying electrical specification sheet. This is where fixture design should be going.

Using the Computer as a Design Tool

The computer can create shapes and forms that the unaided hand cannot fashion.  The computer can tirelessly sculpt hundreds of exact details in the surface of a product and, at the same time, blend complex profiles into a strand of gummy licorice the likes of which have never been able to be nimbly detailed or imagined in a clay or plaster master form.

Abstract forms that painters could so elegantly paint with a brush are now available in 3D shapes that artistic designers can create with their keyboards.

The shapes that could not have previously been conceived can now be rapid prototyped in various materials with ease. From these prototypes, mass production of decorative lighting components is possible. From these shapes a new language of decorative products can be created.

The two lamps I’ve posted were designed at Blackman Design Associates. I chose these deliberately show off the design capability of our CAD programs. Many new decorative trends have been started with new tools and new technologies. CAD programs are just now maturing and are available to all. We are experimenting and learning the new capabilities of this tool. I find it amazing everyday when we find all the new designs it can create. I look forward to each new design path it opens up for us to follow.