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In 2009, Lars Dahlhaus opened Light Up Brooklyn, an industrial chic showroom in Williamsburg which reflected it’s stylish neighborhood. It was more than a retail store, but a destination for style enthusiasts. Light Up Brooklyn represented a long running and respected brand for two of the leading lighting resources: the popular, effective web site, UpscaleLighting.com, and the business which is the soul of the whole organization -- Dahlhaus Vintage European Lighting, the six decades old family-owned business that still operates from the pretty village of Ennepetal, Germany.
The glamorous sparkling chandeliers and funky retro lamps in Light Up Brooklyn's store attract interior designers, architects, builders, and elegant neighbors. The store's lively, social openings of exhibitions by local artists working with light help make Light Up Brooklyn a community focus.
Quality and Design First
Dahlhaus' timeless rendition lighting and vintage period pieces and details have provided real old world richness and fantasy to many spaces including major casinos, malls, hotels, entertainment and leisure complexes in America and around the world. Lighting is just a part of the family of Dahlhaus fixtures. As well as their thousands of individually-tailored variations on wall and pillar lighting, the line highlights exceptional architectural details that compliment your beautiful home.
Lars Dahlhaus explains, "Our pieces reflect a golden age. Dahlhaus offers an exciting, evocative selection of exterior architectural accessories, from lighting to personalized mailboxes and other exterior beautifications. Our focus is the rich design of the nineteenth and early twentieth century." Light Up Brooklyn and UpscaleLighting.com are more than just a design showcase and Internet storefront. For Lars, this is the realization of generations of his family's dream. "Dahlhaus Lighting was inspired by my father Juergen Dalhaus. His growing museum of quality antique has been coupled with cutting edge experimental lighting design."
From grassroots beginnings in his Williamsburg apartment he originally launched Dahlhaus Lighting as a mail order business exclusively representing Dahlhaus Vintage European Lighting for the US market 10 years ago. With his genuine passion for creating elaborately detailed reproductions of antique lighting, architectural accessories and signage, the Dahlhaus family brand is synonymous with a personal commitment to client support. In fact, making the client happy was the driving force behind expanding into the US. "When our discerning clients would contact us they said they truly appreciated Dahlhaus pieces, but hoped for a more moderately priced line. I hated the idea of hanging up on them," he says with a smile."It gave me the idea of expanding from the Dahlhaus Lighting catalog and mail order into an Internet store front. It gave me the freedom to offer quality products from 100's of brands at all price points and opened UpscaleLighting.com in 2007."
Through dedication and commitment, Lars began scouting trade shows, design studios, and boutique showrooms around the world. He created strategic alliances with brands he admired, whose commitment to quality matched Dahlhaus' own mission, like Murray Feiss, Hubbardton Forge, Maxim, WAC and Kichler Lighting. UpscaleLighting.com quickly became known as a resource for sophisticated lighting and ceiling fans.
As Lars' online and mail order business grew, so did the Williamsburg, Brooklyn streets around them. They were coming alive with new developments and renovations, artist's studios, boutiques, bistros and book stores. Everyone needed lighting, and Lars' European chic, smart and classic approach was perfect for the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. To meet his community's increasingly sophisticated and varied indoor and outdoor lighting needs, Lars decided to expand again.
Willamsburg, Brooklyn and Dahlhaus Lighting
He found the perfect location for Light Up Brooklyn. It was an inviting bright, open space previously an old blacksmith's forgery well appointed with soaring ceiling. Rich in industrial ambiance, its showroom, and gallery showcase a tempting variety of styles and prices. "Moving into Light Up Brooklyn was the missing link" Lars explains. "We had a well established mail order business and our rapidly growing website -- and then Light Up Brooklyn giving us that personal touch and community interaction that has always been a Dahlhaus family tradition."
Lars was slightly amazed to find himself carrying on the Dahlhaus story." I never thought I would go into the family lighting business at all!" he laughs. "I always wanted to leave our little village, Ennepetal, and see the world." He'd grown up in the factory, which was near his home and school, but recalls," I was fascinated, but I didn't see myself in the industry." To study business, Lars moved to New York and found himself in then, quiet Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn. A neighborhood just one subway stop outside Manhattan. At school, Lars found he performed well when projects and business plans utilizing information about Dahlhaus Lighting were assigned. "It encouraged me to go into the business after all." he concludes. "My father always jokes that sending me to school in the States was a good investment!"
The Dahlhaus Family Saga
It is a fitting evolution for an epic family saga that began in 1960s Germany. Just like his son four decades later, it was Lars' father Juergen's belief in giving the customer what they want with the quality and price they deserve. That encouraged him to expand his business from a one-man operation into a global lighting enterprise.
It all began because of a love for horses shared by Lars' parents, Monika and Juergen Dahlhaus. They'd acquired a quaint old horse-drawn carriage which Juergen, an inventor who loved re-making industrial objet d'art. Finding it hard to get the right period brass lanterns, the young couple began visiting estate sales, auctions and antique stores across Europe. They earned a reputation for their collection of rare outdoor lighting fixtures and vintage exterior signage. Municipalities such as the city of Dusseldorf began to contact the Dahlhaus family, offering them their old lighting molds to archive -- and then coming to Dahlhaus for duplicates and hard-to-find replacement parts.
In 1967, much like their son Lars Dahlhaus, his parents Monika and Juergen Dahlhaus started their business in the front room of their Ennepetal, Germany home. They started out by importing reproduction vintage lighting from Britain and realized the potential of the business. Following Juergen Dahlhaus' inventive vision, the family opened a factory and showroom in Ennepetal in the mid-1970s. Finally, Dahlhaus Lighting became completely self-sufficient opening a foundry in their village in 1995. This enabled the Dahlhaus family to reinvigorate a dying trade in the artisan rich German region of Westphalia. Long known for its many mines and foundries, when the new Dahlhaus Foundry cast its first light, they were one of just a few foundries left in the area. The birth of Dahlhaus Foundry became a source for a dying trade. Overseeing every aspect of production, Juergen Dahlhaus and his capable team were able to incorporate new technologies. Their grasp of their craft helped them to create individual adaptations of old designs, original patinas, treatments and colors. Subtly updated, their reproduction vintage lights in easier-to-handle sand-cast aluminum retain the imposing look of the original wrought iron that Juergen envisioned. What began as a family hobby grew into a premier international source of beautifully reproduced vintage exterior lighting, architectural and domestic accessories and signage.
Lars sums it up by saying, "My father discovered he had a love for vintage lighting and pursued it with a passion. Now we are an international company, but because of my father's real love for lighting, what sets us apart is that we can do everything ourselves." Continuing with the aesthetic values, personal commitment and 360 degree business model started by his father forty years ago, Lars Dahlhaus turned his family of companies; Dahlhaus Lighting, UpscaleLighting.com and Light Up Brooklyn, into a beacon of inspired lighting for the future without giving up traditional quality.