Inspired by his fascinating background in theater and fashion, Dennis Beard, Director of Product Design for LBL Lighting, and winner of multiple awards, creates some of the most glamorous illuminations in the business today. Here he talks dentists, drama, and Dolly Parton.
As a child in Indiana, USA, my grandmother encouraged my artistic side. She was always doing something creative, and she taught me to sew when I was six years old. Those childhood memories have informed my creativity—things like my grandmother’s costume jewelry, and the sparkling ring that the dentist used to give you for being brave during dental treatment.
I sang with the Kentucky Opera and Louisville Orchestra Chorale and could have pursued that career path. The orchestra’s general manager was another great mentor—I made my first trip to New York City with him. He was a legend.
I could have stayed in New York to study accessory design. It’s my favorite place on earth. I can stay there for weeks on end enjoying its arts scene, then return to Chicago completely energized. In fact, my first love is eveningwear and handbags, and my greatest creative achievement is the Swarovski crystal gown for which I won the eveningwear category at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York.
When I grew up I discovered Swarovski crystal and how different it was from the cut glass that I had been used to. It was perfect. I’ve now been working with it for thirty years and would say that Swarovski has become an inspirational partner.
My style is minimalist with ornate detailing. I look to the Baroque, Rococo, and Art Deco periods for inspiration. They were styles that had glamour, elegance, and drama, and I find that crystals allow me to impart those qualities—they make simply entering a room a dramatic experience.
The Mademoiselle suspension is my favorite piece. It features over nine meters of Swarovski crystals draped over a linear body that houses a slim LED light source. I also designed Mademoiselle pendants and wall sconces.
If you’re in the design business you have to be aware of what’s marketable: if you’re smart, you’ll balance that without letting go of your artistic integrity.
I listen to show tunes while I’m creating, particularly Barbra Streisand—I’d love to have dinner with Streisand, along with Princess Diana, Oprah Winfrey, and Dolly Parton. What a conversation that would be!