Cape Town company lights up US hotel with statement chandelier

Posted by Lorraine Kearney on 17 November 2021

A bespoke statement chandelier made by Cape Town company willowlamp adorns the welcome lobby of the new JA Marriott hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina, US.

The chandelier is an example of technical triumph and creative innovation. It is a highlight of the freshly minted hotel, which opened in August 2021.

The one-of-a-kind piece requires an impressive 26 cubic metres of hanging space. It weighs more than a tonne. It was commissioned by Fabiola Troncoso at Chicago’s Simeone Deary Design Group, on behalf of Marriott International in 2018. And it was designed by willowlamp creative director Adam Hoets.

‘The piece takes its inspiration from the original version of our very first Mandala design,’ says Hoets. That chandelier hangs in Liwa Suites in the United Arab Emirates. It was commissioned by Jan Lewis of Design Union.

The JW Marriott chandelier is composed of cascading tiers of metallic ball chain, but takes the form of a long, narrow ellipse. It is irreverently described by Hoets as ‘sort of a “squashed” Mandala’.

Technical aspects

It required some technical doing. ‘The chain lengths could not just be repeated shapes; they had to all be worked out to fit the stretched proportions,’ Hoets explains. To further complicate matters, the chandelier has upper and lower tiers of chain and was almost too big to manufacture on willowlamp’s premises.

Its extreme size and weight also required a creative approach and several design innovations. The extruded shapes made up of chain curtains had to be broken up into separate panels. Each panel was then individually mounted to a ceiling frame and fitted together like a jigsaw puzzle.

Hoets approached the design in this way because ‘it was the only way to install a piece such as this, because the combined weight is one tonne’.

Now successfully installed, Charlotte’s new JW Marriott basks in the glow of the piece’s 31 LED lamps. These hang on suspended cables that are hidden within each of the extruded geometrical chain curtain shapes.

JW Marriott, Charlotte

The upscale hotel is described as an urban luxury retreat, with an impressive rooftop bar and pool, oyster bar, Spa by JW, restaurant and luxurious, well-appointed rooms.

willowlamp is an award-winning South African lighting company. Founder Hoets uses a unique method that involves fixing ball chains to laser-cut steel frames. A tiny notch in the metal frame creates a chain curtain that is totally free from fasteners. The lights are inspired by nature and sacred geometry.

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