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Behind the Design: Suspenders™ System by Robert Sonneman

Form, Function and Infinite Possibilities: Suspenders System by Robert Sonneman

With today’s technology at the forefront, a 1980s creation was made ready for the modern era.
SONNEMAN Lighting’s ultra-customizable lighting system turns one design into many.

Written by Sarah Chappell

Robert Sonneman is truly a man ahead of his time. His snazzy new collection, Suspenders™, was conceived in the late 1980s—but it was another 20-plus years before lighting technology (behold the power of LEDs!) could catch up to his original design and make it a reality. That might seem like an awfully long time to get a concept off the ground, but in the case of Suspenders™, the timeline proved necessary.

Suspenders™ recently earned the IIDA/HD Product Design Winner in the category for lighting groups, series, systems or collections, and it isn’t hard to see why. Suspenders™ is a delicately scaled, sculptural lighting system of interconnected elements and suspended LED luminaries. Each element has zeroed in on form and function and was designed to be infinitely expandable and robust (but also has the ability to be elegantly minimal) as a chandelier, linear suspension or wall sconce.

Here’s how it works:

SONNEMAN Suspenders System

Choose your luminaire.

These are what you might think of as the “bulbs,” though there is much more to them than that. Sonneman has created seven styles of luminaires in various diffuse shapes and textures to help you achieve the look you want. All of the available luminaires have a warm white, 3000K color temperature and a minimum 90 CRI.

Elements of the SONNEMAN Suspenders System

Choose your hanger.

The diffusers are then connected to two rigid rods called “luminaire hangers,” which then hang from the “power bars.” Are you seeing the suspender analogy yet?

The two prongs easily twist and snap in to the top of each luminaire. It’s super intuitive and simple to do.

These single hanging luminaires turn into something like this:

Or this:

Get creative.

Because this system is incredibly modular, it’s easy to take the design a step further. Four of the luminare shapes also come in triple clusters, which allow you to criss-cross three luminaries onto one hanger.

Triple cluster luminaires - SONNEMAN Suspenders™ System

The results can be quite staggering…

Zig Zag Formation -  SONNEMAN Suspenders™ System

The Suspenders™ in a Zig Zag formation (shown above with the Etched Chiclet Cluster) are able to cover a lot of surface area without feeling overbearing or heavy.

Suspenders™ is also available in a wall sconce. The components are the same, only on a smaller scale. You can keep it really minimal or add some variation:

In short, Suspenders™ is composed of horizontal and vertical elements that connect together in infinite lengths and compositions. Knowing where to start might certainly seem overwhelming, so there are a number of preset configurations that are easier to digest, such as:

When the Suspenders™ collection was first designed, the hangers and rails were unwieldly transformers and the luminaires were less-impressive halogen bulbs. But today’s LED technology has given the collection infinite possibilities to meld form and function into anything you imagine.

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