The Jewelry Of Buildings

Doug Bartoli (1941 – 2003) once told me that light fixtures were the “jewelry of buildings.” The comment struck me as unusual, almost odd, but after much observation and contemplation, I have come to appreciate his thought. Doug attended Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles and then briefly worked in Pasadena before moving to Santa Barbara in 1974. His influence on Santa Barbara extended far beyond his private interior design practice that extended throughout the Santa Barbara, Hope Ranch, and Montecito areas. He served on various City of Santa Barbara design review boards, including the ABR for 14 years. During his tenure on the Sign Committee, he helped write the Sign Ordinance, which among other things eliminated all then existing billboards and pole signs as well as prohibiting them into the future.

Jewelry can be stunning, gaudy, cheap, understated, or visually commanding – all depending on how it is presented, its size, composition, design and whether the “piece” is appropriately used for the occasion’s time and place. Often it sparkles, sometimes it quietly accents. While there are numerous laws dictating minimum light levels around buildings, well designed lighting and light fixtures accent and draw attention to significant portions of buildings just as jewelry does for humans. Ironically, the light fixure itself is only fully seen during the daylight hours when the fixture is “non functional”, while the light it emits only becomes significant as the fixure recedes into the darkness. All too often, lighting is one of the last things to be considered in a design, even though it provides the focus of one’s attention once the building is complete. The fixture shown here can be found on the Trinity Episcopal Church at the corner of Micheltorena and State Streets and is only one of many handmade