The chains and rims of a bicycle aren’t the usual suspects that Southern California luxury home owners are used to seeing on high-end chandeliers, but one Los Angeles artist has found the unconventional beauty and intricacy of these items lend well to her own urban-inspired fine art. Through her company Facaro, Los Angeles-based artist and designer Carolina Fontoura Alzaga repurposes used bike parts collected from garbage dumps, junkyards and dumpsters into beautifully-crafted custom light fixtures.
Looking beyond the typical crystal chandelier, Alzaga found interest in the correlation of two contrasting elements in her designs: the opulent chandelier and pieces of discarded trash.
“Since its conception, the chandelier was meant to convey luxury and status through its scale as well as its ornately decorative and dramatic elements,” said Alzaga to The Los Angeles Times. “I find that the allure of this bicycle chain chandelier exists because of the juxtaposition of its two disparate elements.”
That allure is far-reaching and rather high-end. From her Boyle Heights studio, Alzaga has shipped custom-made chandeliers all over the United States and to clients in Mexico, Canada, Norway, Ireland, Switzerland, Poland, Holland, France and Japan. Some of Alzaga’s more high-profile clients include Neil Patrick Harris, who recently bought a piece his New York home. Her pieces range from $925 to $22,000.
While most of the elements of Alzaga’s designs are cleaned but otherwise left without physical alteration, the artist has recently begun to play with more traditional chandelier elements including copper, silver and brass.
High-End Artist Breathes New Life into Old Parts
In addition to rummaging through many of the city’s old bike depositories, Alzaga also collects used bike parts by placing bins at almost 80 bike shops throughout Los Angeles. When the shops discard their trash, the artist takes it and turns it into a true treasure.
Despite crafting her chandeliers out of used and discarded parts, Alzaga’s creations don’t lose any of the grandeur and luxury of their more classically refined counterparts do.
“Once you allow yourself to question what you were socialized to believe as immutable fact, then you have the freedom to reclaim your own ideas about what is deserving of extreme care,” she said. “To me this body of work is about transcending function and re-vindicating refuse. It’s a statement to challenge the manufactured necessity of the new, and to surpass externally and self-imposed limitations of beauty, vision and action.”
And not just Los Angeles home owners have been privy to the artist’s statement. A 450-pound creation spanning eight feet hangs in Sunset Plaza in Los Angeles, while another similarly grand model hangs among the Middle Eastern antiquities in a home in Bahrain. A project was also recently completed for a theater in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Given their functionality across a wide range of cultures and styles, it’s no wonder that Alzaga’s creations are in such high demand. The artist is currently working with a seven-month waiting period for her pieces.
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