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4 Rules for Keeping Neon Lighting Classy
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You might have noticed: neon lamps are having a serious comeback (it’s sort of hard to miss).
Those blazing tubes of light – previously reserved for bowling alleys and corner-shops – seem to be adorning the walls of indie cafés and upscale boutiques alike, and it’s as if you can’t leave a single high-street homeware shop without gaudy pineapples burned onto your retinas.
As any interior designer will tell you, the secret to really pulling a room concept together is getting the lighting spot on. Whether it’s subtle downlighters illuminating a counter or striking on every surface, complementing the rest of your décor with the right lighting is crucial.
So, what happens when you want to bring a neon sculpture into your home? How on earth do you manage to hang it without overwhelming everything else?
We’ll tell you.

A Brief History of Neon
To fully appreciate the nostalgic value of neon, we need to look at where it began.
Neon lights were introduced to the public in 1910, by a French engineer named . At the Paris Motor Show that year, Claude revealed two, 12-metre neon tubes, dazzling his audience.
Claude’s work commercialised an earlier discovery; that inert gases (such as neon) could produce an intense glow of light when an electrical current ran through them. Due to the initial scarcity of pure neon, these tubes of light had not reached the mass-market, but Claude’s primary business had started to produce large volumes of the gas as a by-product.
This marked the birth of the modern neon lighting industry, and after the First World War, Claude’s creation quickly spread throughout Paris, Europe and the US. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, neon designers used different glasses, coatings and gasses to create a whole variety of colours and effects for neon lighting. By the 1960s, the technology used in early colour televisions produced almost 100 new shades for the tube lighting industry.

Bringing it Home
Neon has been through a lot. Jukeboxes, dive bars, strip clubs and casinos; it’s not exactly enjoyed a wholesome reputation, either. To distinguish your home from a less scandalous environment, you need to embrace modern neon style. All grown up, it’s clean, sharp and fresh. Here are five tips for keeping it that way at home.

1. Go Big
The first step is remembering that size matters, because you know what neon isn’t? Shy. Choosing some teeny, apologetic design will be doing neon a disservice, so clear - or better yet, an entire wall - and go for the biggest neon design you can afford. Honestly, if you’re not ready to drop at least £300 on your sign, you’re probably not ready for neon (although it’s possible to , sort of).

2. Back it Up
Think carefully about your sign is going to have. As long as it’s simple, there’s no right or wrong. Exposed brickwork works particularly well, but so does a plain white (or black) wall. If you’re having your sign custom made then you will usually have the option of having it mounted, which, while it slightly betrays the effortless aesthetic, will help your neon stand out on certain surfaces. It will also have the added benefit of hiding away most of the wires!

3. Let it Speak
Signs that point the way to “GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS” or commemorate a favourite beer brand may always have a place in the neon lover’s heart, but they’re not stylish. Steer away from the ironic bar signs altogether, because a modern neon sign is about . Find a phrase that resonates with you personally, and take it one step further by commissioning it to be made in your own handwriting for something truly unique.

4. Cool it Down
In decades past we may have felt the urge to celebrate neon in every lurid colour imaginable, but nowadays, less is more. Pretty pastels like mint green and baby pink are all the rage, and will give a classy modern twist on your home illumination. If there’s still something inside of you that wants to rebel (it’s okay, we get it) then pick a colour that clashes with the rest of your decor to give it that extra “pop”.

Want to get some more neon in your life?
Your ultimate pilgrimage is to head for the Neon Boneyard in Las Vegas, a 2-acre site hosting over 200 disused and de-commissioned signs of all shapes and sizes. Of course, once the museum closes for the evening you can head back to the Strip and enjoy their working counterparts from dusk ‘til dawn.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking neon lighting is a passing trend. Tube lighting is a part of modern history, and an investment now will keep you glowing for years to come.

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