Los Angeles-based glass artisan, Seth Parks, is breaking boundaries in the world of designer lighting. His sculptural chandeliers bridge traditional and modern aesthetics resulting in stunning pieces that are coveted by interior designers in the home & hospitality industries as well as art collectors around the world. You can see these functional art pieces hanging in such diverse structures from The Black Ensemble Theater in Chicago to Buddha Garden Restaurant in Delray Beach to private homes throughout the country.
Parks’ interest in design started at a young age. Having a natural ability with drawing and sculpting clay is what initially inspired Parks to pursue a career in the creative arts. It was after taking glass-blowing lessons from a local artist that Parks found his true passion. From there, he went on to more in-depth glass-blowing classes. In 2004, Parks set up his own glass studio in his home in Maine. While working on his own, he continued to perfect his craft by studying with some of the best glassblowers in the world, including Italian glass maestros Elio Quarisa , Cesare Toffolo (Corning Museum of Glass), Jay Musler (Penland School of Crafts) and Sally Prach (Pilchuck Glass School).
“Working with glass is like doing a complicated and challenging dance. In this dance, the glass definitely takes the lead,” explains Parks. “You need to always be on your toes, running, maneuvering to get the glass to do what you want. You have to get every step right and move correctly, because if you don’t, you’ll have to start from the beginning. The entire process is a challenge, which is part of the reason I think I was drawn to this art form.”
Growing up on a 200-acre tree farm in Maine had a big influence on the early pieces of Parks’ career, as most of his pieces incorporated nature – sea life, flowers, etc. While his intricate goblets, vases, perfume bottles, and seashells were beautiful and colorful, Parks wanted to make a bigger statement. This is when he began to design and create sculptural lighting. Says Parks, “Take any piece of colored glass, add light, and the colors just pop. I love that the light creates shadows and highlights because it adds depth and dimension to the pieces.” Though the expression has changed, Seth remains true to what initially inspired him – the love of art and nature. His chandeliers and sculptures are an evolution from the literal to the abstract form of some of his earlier work.
While it’s Parks’ passion for creating beautiful things that drives him, he also understands that, in today’s economy, consumers are likely to want something more functional than just a showpiece. Parks’ custom lighting combines the best of both; form and function. “Creating lighting brings fine art into common areas. People, who may not necessarily be art lovers, appreciate the beauty and functionality of the pieces,” shares Parks. The fact that each piece is American-made and hand-blown by the artist ensures the highest level of quality and craftsmanship.
Parks ultimately hopes his work will help continue the American glass art movement. Hand-blown glass should be displayed and appreciated as fine art. “I hope to create artwork that is recognized and excites the general public,” shares Parks. “I’m fortunate to have found a career that I love and am truly passionate about.”