What DO you do with 3000 ping pong balls? Make a chandelier of course…

6 Oct

We were pleased to find out our Troy Ping Pong chandelier (more on the Troy in a bit…) was photographed and published in the September issue of Interior Design Magazine.  Even better,  it was for one of our favorite design clients, Ghislaine Viñas, a vivacious, colorful and color-addicted Dutch interior designer, now an NYC transplant.  Ghislaine  did quite the creative number on the Tribeca townhouse owned by Paige West, a contemporary art expert who owns the Chelsea gallery Mixed Greens.  I wanted to share a taste of it with you…

The Troy Chandelier hangs above a vintage fiberglass table. The wall covering is a collaboration with the graphics firm Viñas Design. All photos of the townhouse are courtesy of Interior Design and photographed by Eric Laignel.

Now, I really wanted to give you just a taste of the townhouse because it is so fantastic, and… I’m pleased to say we’ll have an upcoming interview with Ghislaine herself so I don’t want to give away too many details!

Bluestone tile lobby with vintage wooden chairs.

Guest room features chair by Hiromichi Konno and Andy Warhol images on the blinds.

Feather Dome Pendant by Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz and Steven Wine

Note Ghislaine’s remarkable use of color-so bold and brazen. She has no fear and embraces the emotion and energy the vibrant colors bring to the townhouse.

The Guest room features charcoal striped walls masterfully done by 3 Fingers Painting.

The Nursery for the twin boys.

The kitchen lounge features an Antonio Citterio sofa.

Steel pendant domes with silk threading illuminate the solid surface top of the kitchen’s custom table.

Love the metallic painted chest in the Master bedroom.

When this issue of Interior Design first came out online, (before I received my hardcover in the mail and really, WHY is that?) we received a lot of communication from friends and clients who had never seen the Troy Ping Pong before.  The first to kindly contact me was wallpaper designer and manufacturer @MadisonandGrow on Twitter, who by the way, if you are looking for a  phenomenal wallpaper,  please check them out.  Ghislaine’s  project was incredible and we were so proud to be part of it.  Much of our lighting goes out to places we never see–it is such a treat knowing where our hard work ends up and even better to see it published!

Anyway,  an avalanche of emails, phone calls and tweets began. We even received texts from two friends @HammocksHighTea (a talented textile designer, see earlier interview with Karen) and @ishkadesigns (an equally talented nyc interior designer) who had both been at the party for the above home, waving a hello to our Troy for us.  Paul and I were surprised, I guess we had started taking the Troy for granted.  The original 10 ft version hangs covered in our studio for now, like the Velveteen Rabbit, almost forgotten, while  shiny new versions go out to new owners all the time.  For those who didn’t know us during the “Year of Troy” it was practically our entire life–before, during and after.  Our lighting career had been going along quite well in NYC, our client list growing nicely each year but when Troy made his first appearance…there was a giant surge.  HUGE.  And we hadn’t expected it.

The center ring detail.

Paul and I were asked to design a chandelier for the lounge area of the 2006 Architectural Digest Home Show and were thrilled to do it.  Naturally, we wanted to do something really different and exciting but weren’t sure what exactly.  My plan was to maintain a classic profile while utilizing  an unexpected material.  And this is why I love designing so much.  The pressure and excitement to create something remarkable is what pushes me to think beyond the norm.  I LOVE the pressure.  It’s what drives me.

So one day, while strolling our neighborhood streets on the Upper West Side, we stopped in front of Wang Chen’s, a local table tennis club, and watched as players hit the balls rhythmically back and forth.  Somewhat mesmerized for several minutes, we broke our silence and looked at each other and uttered the words, “Ping Pong balls.”   Yes, I know… Not exactly Edison perfecting the light bulb and probably a little bizarre sounding to any passersby, BUT it was that creative moment that drives all artists, designers, writers etc.  The reason why we do what we do.  It’s that breakthrough moment we all search for and celebrate when we find it.  I knew ping pong balls resembled oversized pearls and had a luminosity to them–perfect for the very large chandelier (10 ft tall!) we wanted to make.  I became so excited at the thought of this incredibly strange material suddenly becoming beautiful and mysterious,  I got to work sketching right away.

The metal work alone took months to complete from an incredible artist we found in Brooklyn.  Thousands upon thousands of ping pong balls were ordered, tournament quality only of course (brighter white, no logo, no seam).  I spent weeks stringing them at home searching for the perfect way to give them the illusion of floating on air (a pattern was created using different lengths of surgical tubing).  Paul spent months with the metal worker perfecting the curvature of the rings, the height of the body and so much more.   A team of workers were hired simply to drill and string  more than 3000 balls for weeks and weeks.  Even our cats discovered they were a blast to play with, especially in the bath tub.  We lived, dreamt, spoke, ate ping pong balls.  Every.  Single.  Day.

And then it happened. The media got wind of the story…

We were in The New York Times before the chandelier was even completed.

The first day of the show was a blur.  Besides the fact that we had very little sleep especially with the rush to complete the piece, our booth and get Mr. Troy hung safely the night before, we were interviewed LIVE on The Early Show on CBS the morning of opening day of the Architectural Digest Home Show.  There we were, speaking to a camera and faceless voices that connected us to millions of people.  OK, maybe not THAT many but it felt like it.  (Note to self:  you are NOT meant to be a public speaker.)  Press stopped by constantly. We must have said the words “Ping Pong” thousands of times (who would have thought?) and more importantly, we learned how to comfortably deal with the bewildered looks as we answered many times over, “Yes, they really are ping pong balls!”

Paul poses with the full size Troy. (Isn’t he cute?)

Interior Design Magazine

The opening night party was extraordinary and so much fun!

 The Troy chandelier ended up being published in over 50 different publications throughout the world. Very exciting and so much more than we expected.


AD Italia. I have no idea what it says except for “ping pong balls”.

And now, 4 years later we make a nice “normal” size of the Troy…

 Interior design by Healing Barsanti at The East Hamptons Show House.

And even a Troy featuring beautiful crystal for those who may not have use for the ping pong…

Photo courtesy of Elle Decor and DIFFA’s Dining By Design

So what is the moral of this Ping Pong tale?  It’s just as Ghislaine Viñas shows us in her shameless and courageous use of color:  Do what feels right for you.  Follow what you find pleasing and go with it.  Know in your heart that everyone is not going to always like what you do and if they do, then it’s boring.  It’s beige. You bring something to the table that no one has, be it in design, writing,  fashion, cooking or flying a kite.  It is your job on this planet to use that talent and not be afraid to share it.  I don’t know how many times we were laughed at for using ping pong balls, OR for starting a lighting company OR for working in the film business and THEN leaving the film business.  You will never please everybody all the time and if you do, you will lose yourself.  So go.  Be you.

Or as Coco Chanel so famously put it,

 “In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.”



9 Responses to “What DO you do with 3000 ping pong balls? Make a chandelier of course…”

  1. Beth October 7, 2010 at 5:28 am #

    Wow! How cool! On every level!

  2. ChantaleP October 7, 2010 at 4:06 pm #

    I’m speechless.. You made the ordinary extraordinary! I love your last words.. it is very inspiring!

  3. Ishka Designs October 7, 2010 at 4:08 pm #

    Ping Pong balls in a whole different light. I love what goes on in your head! I hope we get the chance to work together 🙂


  4. Jenny Guggenheim October 7, 2010 at 4:42 pm #

    Love it! So elegant, yet subtly…playful!

  5. artofthespa October 7, 2010 at 11:53 pm #

    OMG so gorgeous and glowy – I’ve always adored the eggshell texture of ping pong balls – They so radiate. Congrats on all the coverage! I also cannot get enough of that feather pendant ; )

    PS; Miro, aka @SpaCat, says she wants some ping pong balls to play with too ; )

    Candy @artofthespa

  6. yvonne October 8, 2010 at 9:47 pm #

    Wow Marcia & Paul…I knew about the Troy but had not idea about how it came to be…and such success. Love the Coco quote!

  7. Robyn November 15, 2010 at 11:46 am #

    I adore the chandelier. How inventive to use ping pong balls! I can only imagine that it was a labor of love. I have so much respect for those who create.


  1. Recap #designtv Monday - November 16, 2010

    […] I have a friend that says “Every house must have either lots of books or a dog. Preferably both.” #designtv If you want to know what to do with your ping pong ball collection, you can take a look at a post and project from one of our #designtv contributors, Marcia @ziapriven, below. “What do you do with 3000 ping pong balls? Make a chandelier of course…” […]

  2. 5 Lights That Will Wow You | Pegasus Lighting Blog - December 21, 2010

    […] At first glance, this may look like a standard chandelier.  Look closer.  It’s actually constructed from 347 recycled Bic Cristal pens and 347 paper clips.  Talk about what you wouldn’t expect a light to be made of!  This one has got to be in the same category as the chandelier made from 3000 ping pong balls. […]

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