All of the lights: brighten up your home with neon
While it never went out of fashion, neon's blazing a trail again, writes Kirstie McDermott
'I just think it has an amazingly seductive glow - it lures people in," says Gigi Foyle of the reprise of neon.
Gigi, is the Irish-born, London-based creative director and founder of LED neon light company bag&bones (bagandbones.co.uk). She runs the business with her Dublin-based sister Cavanagh.
While neon has never really gone out of style - it's just too cool - of late it's had a surge in popularity as we re-embrace all things retro and Americana. Google Trends data shows an uptick for the search term 'neon' in Ireland in the past 12 months as we clamber aboard the bright bandwagon.
Art and illumination in one, neon was traditionally used for advertising, and snapping up a vintage piece is a goal for many of us - because until recently, commissioning your own neon has been an expensive business.
Neon signage involves bending glass over flame to create shapes or letters, sucking out air, pumping in gas and attaching electrical transformers. Beautiful and authentic for sure - but highly specialist and 'ching-ching', too.
Now though, the tech has moved on, allowing the same effect for a lot less cash. Naturally, that has opened up neon's availability to the masses. "You can pop into most high street stores and purchase some neon," confirms Foyle. And bag&bones has taken full advantage of the bright, shiny new mood.
"In particular to us, it's also probably down to the technology behind our lights: using a combination of flexible neon tubing and LEDs. We were lucky as we launched at the right time when this type of technology was just coming on to the market, and it meant we were able to create a unique product that is as durable as it is portable, while also being lightweight, safe, transportable and best of all - eco-friendly," she says.
Nowadays, it's perfectly possible to pop into Penneys and come home with a plug-in pineapple or cactus for under €20, or snaffle a cute illuminated bar sign for your cocktail cart. You could go one better and get a custom creation.
Nor is it just for the living room. This is a decor element that can be put to work in most rooms in the home. "It can lift any space, at any time of day. When I turn it on, my mood is instantly uplifted," Foyle says, adding, "neon is a stimulant and we want everyone to indulge."
As part of the lighting mix, neon has its place. "Lighting is so important in a home - you need to find the perfect balance and LED neon certainly gives you lots of options," Foyle says. "Now, the technology is so brilliant - you can dim neon lights, so even if you were to go for something quite vibrant, you can adjust the intensity of it, depending on the mood you are trying to create.
"Our USP is that we create customised designs," Foyle reveals. "There is something very romantic about getting something personal to you, up in lights. We have lots of requests for song lyrics from a first dance - always nice to see that romance is still very much alive and well!"
Their most unusual commission to date?
"We have had some funny ones… some even a little risque," she laughs. "Our favourite so far has been, 'Marry me?', made especially for a client in their own handwriting, which is pretty special. And I can confirm that she said yes!"
Kirstie McDermott is editorial director of 'House and Home' magazine