The Capiz shell is the outer shell of the marine mollusk, Placuna placenta and is found in the shallow waters of the Philippines. The flat translucent shells have been utilized for home decoration, especially in lighting since they cast such a warm glow.
My aunt had a “curtain” to her sewing room made of these shells when I was a child. At night, when her home was dark and she was tucked away at her sewing machine, I would walk down the hallway and the shells created a magical effect to the entrance of the room.
All the memories of this enchanted glow came back to me when I saw the impecably designed movie The Cell. In one of the scenes, the ceilings are covered with a warm glowing sea of Capiz shells and cascading chandeliers. This was the best picture I could find which barely does it justice.
This “Fun” lamp designed by Danish artist Verner Panton in 1964 is currently for sale on nova68.com for $18,000! He was prolific with his Capiz shell lamp designs, with this version measuring 40″ in diameter.
Like glittering paillettes (D&G dress), the large iridescent discs feel luxurious yet familiar. The delicate and organic nature of Capiz shells feel like something from a fairy tale and their natural origins lend a sense of accessible decadence that a crystal chandelier can’t match.