Is Cord Swagging Back?? And Are They Part Of The Sculpture (+ It Can Actually Be A Really Affordable Trend)

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Is Cord Swagging Back?? And Are They Part Of The Sculpture (+ It Can Actually Be A Really Affordable Trend)


The majority of the time I’m scrolling through Instagram, I’m both inspired and simultaneously kinda bummed. I know that’s likely the most common feeling on that particular app. There are just so many cool new things happening design-wise that are simply so beyond 99% of people’s reach financially. I don’t want to dismiss the artistry/time it takes to not only make the designs and products happen but also the experience/schooling it takes to know how to create them. But last week, Emily was mentioning how cord swagging (with pendants and chandeliers) felt like it was back and how actually awesome it is visually. Now depending on the price of your fixture, nearly anyone who wants to swing in on this swag trend can! HECK YES!

But why is it cool, Em and Jess?? Well my friend, it effortlessly creates a lighting sculpture which automatically gives your eye something to stare at as well as takes up a large amount of visual space (and potentially physical space too). Aka it looks very cool with the right amount of swag and cord material. The material part is important too. Not to mention, if you have a junction box in an annoying place that doesn’t properly center over say…anything, this is the perfect solution. So to recap, it can be affordable AND might solve a design agony. Is it all of our birthdays??

styled by bek burrows | architecture by blackman creative | photo by adam gibson | via the design files⁠⁠

Aside from the breathtaking views of nature, this vintage pendant was expertly swagged over to the left to be what looks like a perfect reading light for the bench while also lighting up the whole room. It also helps to visually balance the room so that there’s enough “weight” in front of the white windows and your eye doesn’t focus solely on the darker, natural french door on the right.



Hot Tip

Consider the height/length of your swag if it’s a directional light fixture. The lower you go will affect how much the fixture will light up your whole space. But going low looks super cool if you only need to light a small area.

design by felipe hess | photo by filippo bamberghi | via trendland

This is a perfect example of creating a simple sculptural moment and playing with a low height. Plus notice how the curve of the swag contrasts all of the straight lines in the space (well, except for that incredible wine storage moment). I’m not a huge MCM (mid-century modern) gal but this space is really speaking to my heart. Also, is that a drawing of a flower on that cement post?? Stop. I get it, you’re perfect.

design and photo by rachael jackson

Then here we have the colorful, DIY joy of Rachael Jackson’s ORC reveal. See how she wrapped her probably undesirable-looking cords in a rainbow pattern due to her beams likely making it very hard to conceal them in the first place? It’s playful, draws your eye up, and really gives a sculptural, artistic feel.

Now while this can be super affordable, like everything else in this world, there are ways to dive in and spend all of your money too. I’m unfortunately a pro at finding these ways first. Never have I seen an expensive, full/overpriced item I didn’t immediately gravitate towards. But enough about me and more about these BIG TIME cord swagging fixtures.

If you look at Amanda Gunawan‘s beautiful neutral, minimalist home, it would be totally pretty with a simple single pendant. BUT instead, she chose to install that insanely cool multi-pendant fixture with extra-long swagged cords to create a real piece of art. It gives the space so much more movement and accentuates how high the ceilings are! Very cool and noooo jealously here…

design by chad dorsey design | styled by jenny o’connor | photo by stephen karlisch | via vogue living

Here’s the same fixture but in black and with fewer lights (three vs five). Sure this room could use some more dining chairs for everyday use but there is no need for any more decor. That light is graphic, bold, and is nearly impossible to look away from! I also love how the cords are asymmetrical so it doesn’t look uniform and keeps those eyeballs moving.

design by bos studio | sara mathers | photo by helen cathcart | via architectural digest

This is a maximalist dream and my oh my is it a beaut. A canopy look is VERY cool, and if you are technically inclined you could DIY or take it to a lighting shop and have them turn your individual lights into a single, large pendant.

Both of these Apparatus fixtures are sculptural pieces of art but what makes them work so well together is that one is thicker with less arms and the other (with the swagging cords) is visually lighter with more “arms”. So remember to mix up “the weights” when mixing ceiling lights.

design by workstead

Another way to bring in “the swag” without the cords coming out of the ceiling is to have it come out of the fixture itself like this one! That way you still get the sculpture look but with it being a little less intense:)

design by courtney bishop design | photo by katie charlotte

But what if you want to up drama and happy to have a beam or horizontal pole hanging from the ceiling?? Baby, you can just wrap that puppy up! I love how Courtney Bishop wrapped these macrame corded pendants around that pole. Sure this is in a restaurant but think how pretty something like that would look in our outdoor dining area?? Actually, my dad and his girlfriend did something like this with pendants like this one and it looks really great.

design by cynthia zamaria | photo by robin stubbert

Of course, it can look awesome inside too:) It really adds just a ton of texture to a space, right??

Side note. I want to talk about cord material. You really want to stick with fibers or a very simple but pretty rubber one. Chains can be cool buuuut are tricky and can easily look not great. Places like World Market with this one and this one, Etsy with this shop or this shop are great options. But don’t forget to check out your local lighting shop. Back when I live in New York, I went to this lights and parts shop and had them make a lantern pendant I had bought into a working light fixture for like $40 (back in 2013 FYI)! They had a ton of material options and it really turned out special.

design by stef claes | photo by eric petschek

Now let’s go back to the inspo, and see the power of a simple double pendant light. I love how Stef Claes took this extremely classic Noguchi pendant but doubled it up (in different sizes) and decided to swag it over the dining table. Not sure if placing the junction box to the side of the table was intentional but regardless it makes it so much more interesting than if it were simply right above. It’s something you might want to think about if you are renovating and want to do things a little outside of the box.

design by flack studio | styling by joseph gardner | photo by anson smart | via architectural digest

This room is perfection to me and those lights are a big reason why. Not only are they just freaking cool but they are different shapes, hung at different heights, and with that simple cord swag, lightly fills in the upper ceiling space so it doesn’t feel too empty and forgotten about.



Hot Tip

Got really high ceilings? Consider adding some length to your cord so it can swag a bit. That way you have a simple but impactful piece of art above you. Two birds, one stone.

Lastly, you might have a wall junction box that you could take advantage of for your ceiling purposes. Sure it might have been meant for a sconce, but it can be a really cool way to have a slightly unexpected cord swag that you can then take up to the ceiling like in the photos above.

I’m actually thinking of doing this in my very dark and uninteresting hallway. It has a sconce but it’s practically butting up to a doorframe. Very weird. So my thought now, after Em brought up this idea/trend, is to put the “ceiling plate” on the wall and then have lots of cord length to have a cool pendant sculpture on the ceiling. It will not only brighten it up with multiply lights but it will look so much more interesting. I’m pretty excited about it:)

Hopefully, you might be too and are a little inspired to put some swag in your home:) But what are your thoughts? Do you agree that a cord can add a sculpture element to a room? Do you like it?? Let’s chat.

Love you, mean it.

Opening Image Credits: Design by Reath Design | Architecture by Bestor Architecture | Photo by Laure Joliet





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