How to Light for Gorgeous Gastronomic Experiences

A pair of Almas pendants from designer lighting brand Dounia Home hang in a wide and spacious kitchen.

Complement or contrast, the designer light is a treasure in kitchen lighting. Pictured: Almas pendant lights from Dounia Home

A fact at once obvious and yet easily forgotten is that the most important room in the average family home is the kitchen. Practically speaking, it is where your food is kept and your meals prepared, but the kitchen’s role is more than that. It is the heart of the home, a place where we cook, eat, work, play, study, and more. The kitchen is where, even if we tend to drift into our separate rooms most of the time, the family still feels together

The importance of the kitchen and the variety of its uses in most homes can present challenges when building a designer kitchen lighting plan. Technical requirements, design styles, and an abundance of selection (if we do say so ourselves) can combine to make finding your ideal kitchen light fixtures a challenge. Naturally, though, helping you with that is part of our mission at LightForm.

We want you to have the kitchen you dream of–the kitchen you’ve seen in magazines and long for. To start, we’ve put together this brief summary of things to consider as you delve into the world of contemporary kitchen lighting, as well as a few designer pendant light suggestions to whet your appetite.

Designer Kitchen Lighting 101

a-emotional light's Onn pendant lights by Arturo Alvarez hang above a sleek minimalist kitchen's counter.

The space and personality of this spacious modern kitchen are emphasized by the lines of Arturo Alvarez’s Onn pendant lights

Lighting plans are important, and there’s much to be considered in building yours with the right kitchen lighting fixtures for you and your space. There are three primary forms of light to consider as you build a kitchen lighting plan:

  • Ambient Lighting
  • Task Lighting
  • Accent Lighting

Ambient lighting should be bright enough to see clearly–you don’t need drama, you need to see–but not so bright as to be overwhelming. Task lighting, in addition to aiding in your use of your kitchen and its surfaces, will help create aesthetic highlights, which will then be completed with the addition of accent lights, which generally serve purely aesthetic purposes.

As you build your lighting plan, you will likely need to explore a variety of light sources to suit all your needs using some combination of wall, ceiling, track, strip, linear suspension, and pendant lighting. As the most popular and ubiquitous tool in the interior designer’s kitchen lighting toolbox, pendant lights are our focus in this post.

Picking the Perfect Pendant for Your Kitchen Lighting Plan

Since kitchens tend not to be cavernous spaces, it’s generally best to select individual lighting solutions that can perform several functions. Pendants generally aren’t the best option for accent lighting (though, as with anything, there are exceptions), but they are exceedingly good at providing ambient and task lighting for kitchens, while also allowing you to express your own distinct style. 

Open–or at least translucent–upper sections allow pendants to contribute to a kitchen’s ambient light, while lower apertures and shades help focus direct light. This provides task lighting without filling the space with overpowering light levels. Favouring dimmable kitchen lighting fixtures is another way to control the light levels in your kitchen, especially if it gets a fair amount of sunlight, but might require punching up during daybreak and twilight hours.

Colour temperature, as always, is also an important consideration in kitchen lighting. Always stay as close to a consistent colour temperature as possible within your home, and ensure it complements your design style. And, regardless of colour temperature, you may be grateful to seek out kitchen lighting with a high CRI (colour rendering index), so your produce looks every bit as good as it did in the store. 

Aurora Suspension Light from Niche

A linear cluster of Aurora pendant lights hang over a black counter with a bowl of oranges on a minimalist studio set.

Niche’s Aurora suspension lights were inspired by the aurora borealis

With Aurora pendant light, Niche followed a complex conceptual journey to arrive at a simple, yet powerful form. Aurora’s broad midsection and inward curvature evoke the Earth’s magnetosphere, which produces the phenomenon from which Aurora suspension light takes its name when it catches the charged particles of solar winds. The retro-inspired central bulb similarly plays with Aurora’s diffuser, producing a pleasant ambient light as well as a direct downward task light. Available in a wide range of colours, Aurora is particularly effective in linear clusters for kitchen island lighting.

Bibendum Family from Karman

The Bibendum family, designed by Paola Navone for Karman, hangs over a long wooden table.

The entire Bibendum family of lights from Karman. Note the reference to lighting designer Paola Navone’s inspiration in creating Bibendum’s distinctive shape in the upper left

The flowing, organic form of Karman’s Bibendum pendants recalls the sumptuous confections that you might create under its light. Paola Navone designed Bibendum large, medium, and small to have a friendly, welcoming look that combines order with a touch of expressive eccentricity. This makes Bibendum pendant lights, whether in transparent or opal white glass, the perfect expression of the combination of order and ingenuity that marks every great meal’s preparation. 

Sharing its name with the iconic mascot for Michelin, famous for their tyres and the most-respected restaurant guidebook in the world, Bibendum takes its name from the Latin phrase nunc est bibendum (now is the time to drink). And, with such a elegantly joyous light illuminating your kitchen, why wouldn’t you raise a glass to toast your style?

Crescent Suspension Light from Lee Broom

A New York high rise apartment kitchen with a pair of Lee Broom's Crescent pendant lights over the kitchen island. A bay window reveals the New York City skyline in the background.

Lee Broom’s Crescent pendant lights add to the clean, elegant luxury of this New York City high rise apartment’s kitchen

In Crescent pendant light, Lee Broom takes the simple and timeless form of an opal glass sphere and gives it an extra hint of refinement. Bisected with the two halves offset, the glowing orb’s light catches the brushed brass accents to create a subtle sense of indulgence. 

The asymmetry central to Crescent suspension light’s profile gives your kitchen lighting a wink and a nod. It is dignified but with a sense of quiet whimsy, and helps enliven smaller kitchens that could do with a little opening-up.

Cosmo Rise & Fall Suspension from Original BTC

Cosmo Rise and Fall suspension light from Original BTC, with the dimpled bone china shade option.
A linear cluster of Cosmo suspension lights over a wooden dining table in a large open space.

Left: Original BTC’s Cosmo Rise and Fall pendant light with the dimpled bone china shade. Right: A trio of Cosmo pendants offer a refined warmth to a welcoming dining area.

Cosmo pendant light is, like so many Original BTC lighting designs, a combination of timeless form, refined materials, and meticulous engineering. Cosmo Rise & Fall suspension light then takes that engineering still further, making it ideal for kitchen task lighting with its adaptability. 

Enjoying all of the style and grace of the Cosmo pendant, Cosmo Rise & Fall adds an acorn-shaped counterbalance to the flex. This allows you to lower the bone china shade to focus on your task, then raise it again to provide ambient light for the entire kitchen. 

Bluff City 14″ Suspension Light from Roll & Hill

A pair of Jonah Takagi's Bluff City 14" suspension lights over the island in a fun and whimsical modern kitchen.

Light, fun, and charismatic, Jonah Takagi’s Bluff City 14″ pendant light for Roll & Hill suits a variety of kitchen design styles

For Roll & Hill’s Bluff City pendant lights, Jonah Takagi was inspired to combine the classic smoothness of a traditional pendant shade with a wire-cage upper, enrobing an opal inner diffuser. The result is a fun, frivolous kitchen lighting fixture that is elegant, industrial, and modern all at once. 

Roll & Hill's Bluff City 14" pendant light, designed by Jonah Takagi
Jonah Takagi's Bluff City 14" Pendant Light from Roll & Hill.
Bluff City 14" pendant light, designed by Jonah Takagi for Roll & Hill.

The Bluff City family is available in a wide range of finishes

The triumph of Takagi’s exuberant lighting design is that, despite combining three seemingly disparate elements, no part of Bluff City suspension light seems out of place. More, because these elements are still identifiable within the whole–as well as the wide range of available finishes–Bluff City 14″ pendant light can align with a wide range of decor schemes for ambient lighting, while Bluff City 8″ pendant light takes the reins for task and accent lighting. 

PH Collection from Louis Poulsen

A line of PH 5 pendant lights over a long office breakroom table.

Simple, functional, and expressive, Poul Henningsen’s PH collection from Louis Poulsen are iconic lighting designs

The PH collection of lights is legendary in designer lighting circles. Originally designed by Poul Henningsen in the mid-1920s, PH pendant lights were an attempt to tame the harshness of the electric light and provide the warm, pleasant glow of oil lanterns. To do this, Henningsen, in cooperation with Louis Poulsen, a company about to discover its raison d’etre, produced a prototype PH light for an exhibition in Paris. This prototype used several shades surrounding the central lamping such that, hung at the appropriate height, one would enjoy ample softly diffused light without the harsh glare of the bulb offending the eyes.

PH 5 pendant light, designed by Poul Henningsen for Louis Poulsen, hang over rustic wooden tables in a dramatically-lit restaurant.

PH 5 suspension light remains the most-popular member of the PH collection

Today, the PH collection is an icon of Scandinavian design. Adapted by Henningsen and Louis Poulsen to suit a wide range of uses, PH pendant lights are ideal for creating a cozy, comfortable atmosphere in the modern kitchen. For general lighting, the ultra-popular PH 5 pendant light is ideal as a high-hanging light out of direct view. For task lighting, one of the adapted versions such as PH 4/3 pendant or PH 3½-3 pendant light, which alter the size ration between the top and lower shades to keep the lamping hidden while still providing the proper light, will help you create the luxuriously comfortable kitchen of your dreams.

Blux System C Ceiling Light from B.lux

Two Blux System C ceiling lights over a simple kitchen island.

Infinitely versatile, B.lux’s classic Blux System C ceiling lights are ideal for kitchens requiring adaptable task lighting

Okay, so we’re breaking our own rules to include this one. It’s classified as a ceiling light –because it isn’t really suspended, but rather uses a system of articulated arms connected through friction-swivel joints–but it looks like a pendant and it’s our list, so we’re including it, dangit.

Blux System C ceiling light from B.lux illuminates a kitchen counter.
Blux System C ceiling light from B.lux in black.

Blux System C ceiling light is wonderfully modernist in its character

Quirky and modern in its form, Blux System C from B.lux is an iconic task light. Balancing function and efficiency with a lighthearted spirit, Blux System C ceiling light is the perfect kitchen light fixture for spaces with multiple work surfaces. 

Diabolo Suspension Light from Flos

Designed by lighting design legend Achille Castiglioni for Flos, Diabolo suspension lights hang over a pair of tables in an open office space.

Clean lines and a playful spirit are the core of Diabolo suspension light, designed by Achille Castiglioni for Flos

Lighting design titan Achille Castiglioni was inspired to create Diabolo pendant light for Flos by the toy, popular with children and clowns alike through history, with which it shares its name. Within this form, Castiglioni saw potential to honour his inspiration further through an extension of its functional abilities. The line or cord used by clowns to make diabolos dance is represented by a cord that connects the upper and lower cones; this allows the lamping within the lower cone to be lowered and raised according to your needs of the moment. 

Karman's Diabolo pendant lights hang over a wooden table in a dining room with spare Scandinavian decor.

Diabolo pendant light is equally adept at sleek subtlety

Perfect for targeted task lighting, Diabolo suspension light is ideal for modern, minimalist-inspired decor schemes, or any kitchen looking for a touch of fun and whimsy.

Cathode Suspension Light from Davide Groppi

Omar Carraglia's Cathode pendant for Davide Groppi hangs over a table.

Davide Groppi’s Cathode pendant light is the result of further experimentations in form by frequent collaborator Omar Carraglia

Omar Carraglia and Davide Groppi once again experiment with the history and meaning of the objects that produce light in Cathode pendant light. The retro-inspired form of Cathode adds a cool, reserved luxury to your kitchen, while the warm, diffuse light it throws offers you the task lighting you require on your countertop. A transparent upper diffuser further allows reflected light to escape, contributing indirect ambient lighting to your space.

With a dignity and technical beauty all its own, Cathode works best in pairs or linear clusters over kitchen work surfaces. 

Kushi Suspension Light from Kundalini

Kundalini's Kushi pendant lights, designed by Alberto Saggia and Valerio Sommella, hang over tables for two in a modern cafe.

The gentle curves of its opal blown glass diffuser gives the body of Kundalini’s Kushi pendant light the appearance of pliability, which is further emphasized by being pierced by its signature skewer

Alberto Saggia and Valerio Sommella sought to capture the joy and pleasant atmosphere of a family dinner in the Kushi family of lights for Kundalini. This friendly, comfortable character is balanced, however, by the defining “skewer” that (from the Japanese) gives the collection its name.

The opal glass diffuser’s lush, fluid form is pierced by cool metal, complicating Kushi pendant light’s profile and adding a hint of class and refinement. Ideal for providing ambient lighting to an open kitchen looking for a touch of Asian-influenced minimalist style. 

Knot Collection from Brokis

A cluster of Chiaramonte Marin's Knot suspension lights hang over a kitchen island in a warm contemporary home.

A cluster of Knot suspension lights from Brokis contribute to the warmth of this Scandinavian design style kitchen

Chiaramonte Marin’s Knot collection for Brokis uses material, texture, and shape to create a sense of welcoming intrigue and rustic luxury in their simple forms. Knot pendant lights are available in four forms: Sfera, Cilindro, Disco, and Uovo. Each features a rounded lamping surface that illuminates the coarse fibrous surface of the central rope and projects diffuse light outwards through the transparent diffuser of Czech blown glass.  

Knot pendant lights are ideal either alone or in clusters. With several sizes of each pendant available, cluster installations can also add an extra level of contrast to kitchens that enjoy a luxurious profile, but want a touch of warmth and rustic charm.

Blossi Suspension Light from Nuura

A pair of Nuura's Blossi 1 pendants, designed by Sofie Refer, illuminate a minimalist contemporary kitchen.

Simple, unobtrusive, yet powerful–Nuura’s Blossi 1 pendant lights join a Blossi table lamp to light this simple Nordic kitchen

Capturing both the beauty and the subtlety of the sunset during a Nordic autumn, the Blossi collection is an elegantly simple lighting design from Nuura. Designed by Nuura creative director Sofie Refer, Blossi 1 pendant light breathes of clean simplicity. A simple system of reflection and refraction helps Blossi 1 offer both ambient and direct downward lighting. Further complementing the soft, warm light thrown by Blossi lights is the distinctively rounded angles of the transparent diffuser, which help to warm the cool metallic accents. 

Bai T Di Di Suspension Light from Parachilna

Bai T Ba Ba suspension light, designed by Neri & Hu Design for Parachilna.
Parachilna's Bai T Di Di suspension light, designed by Neri & Hu Design.
Neri & Hu Design's Bai T Ma Ma pendant light from Parachilna

From left to right: Bai T Ba Ba, Bai T Di Di, and Bai T Ma Ma pendant lights, designed for Parachilna by Neri & Hu Designs

The Bai family of lights, designed for Parachilna by Neri & Hu Design, is in fact an actual family of lights. Distinguished by their blown glass diffusers, Bai T Ba Ba, Bai T Ma Ma, and Bai T Di Di translate from Mandarin to “Daddy,” “Mommy,” and Little Brother” (“Bai” is a surname meaning “White”). 

Bai Chandelier III linear suspension light, designed by Neri & Hu Design for Parachilna.

Bai Chandelier III linear suspension light. Bai Chandelier II is also available

Contrasting the Chinese-lantern-like inner structure with the rounded transparent diffuser, the Bai collection is subtle and buoyant in its presence. Each Bai light uses its power cord to graphically caress the space above in a gentle spiral. With pendant, wall, and linear suspension chandeliers among its available lighting designs, the Bai collection offers you extreme versatility in building an entire Bai-centric lighting plan. 

Projecteur 365 Suspension from Nemo

Twin Projecteur 365 suspension lights, designed by legendary designer Le Corbusier and released by Nemo, illuminate the detached counter

Bold and distinguished, Le Corbusier’s Projecteur 365 pendant lights from Nemo accent the sleek lines of this modern kitchen

Projecteur 365 pendant light was first envisioned and crafted by legendary architect and designer Le Corbusier in 1954. Simple in both form and function, the Projecteur collection has a refined industrial character that provides an ironic sense of luxury to the spaces it inhabits. 

Perfect for kitchens looking for a cooler, more refined tone, Projecteur 365 suspension light can be combined with Projecteur 165 pendant light, clip light, and both sizes of Projecteur wall/ceiling lights to create a complete kitchen lighting plan.

Nur Suspension Light from Dounia Home

A pair of Nur pendants from Dounia Home hang over a kitchen counter.

This elegantly appointed kitchen bathes in the warmth of Dounia Home’s Nur pendant lights, with a Warda pendant over the sink

Handcrafted in Marrakesh based on Moroccan design traditions, Nur pendant light from Dounia Home is an exciting way to add a touch of spice to your kitchen lighting plan. The expressive hand-punched perforations in Nur’s upper hemisphere create an ambient shadowplay on the walls and ceiling of your kitchen, while the direct downlight fills the space and provides ample task lighting. 

Further possibilities for the collection are represented in the Nur Reversed sub-family, which move the hand-punched holes to the lower hemisphere, increasing the power of the ambient lighting Nur lights provide. With Double Pendant and Dual Globe options for expanded work areas and a Counterbalanced option to allow you to raise or lower the light to suit the mood and your needs, the Nur collection of lights is a perfect way to bring a subtly exotic flavour to your home. 

Building a Beautiful Kitchen with LightForm

To recap: although your individual needs will, of course, be much more specific in the end, there are four key elements that you should consider when looking for kitchen pendants:

  • It offers a combination of ambient and task lighting
  • Dimmable
  • Colour temperature consistent with that of your existing home or your lighting plan
  • High CRI

While it is possible to do without each of these in certain circumstances, you should still keep them in mind as you search. We are, naturally, always here to help as well. We heartily invite you to make an appointment to bring in your home photos, style references, mood boards, and–if you really want to be ahead of the game–ceiling and counter measurements–for a consultation with a representative from one of our offices or showrooms in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Kelowna, and Winnipeg. Find more kitchen pendant light ideas on our website!