Illuminating Decor: For the Love of Neon

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Living for Today, 1972© Karen Fisher

Supreme Interiors ponders the timeless attraction of fluorescent lighting

As a kid, my favourite store at the local mall was Spencer's Gifts, which sold all sorts of gag gifts, posters, and adult toys; it was the type of stuff that would either blow our minds or just give us a good laugh. Sometimes we'd scrounge up enough money to make off with a random poster or magic trick, but most of the time we'd just stay in the store as long as we could, admiring all of the things we'd absolutely buy once we grew up and had enough money. One of those things, high up on a shelf between the infinitely pouring beer tap and lava lamps, was the most incredible clock I had ever seen. It had a shiny black plastic base supporting the coolest pink and green neon palm tree, which arced to one side, and had a floating clock face which hung on the other. All that could be said about it was that it was totally Miami, it was totally 80s, and I was totally in love. 

Neon lighting is one of the most ubiquitous yet underrated forms of illumination out there. Neon is everywhere! Nearly every storefront or bar window has a neon sign telling the world whether or not they are open, or what types of beer they offer, yet nobody ever thinks of neon when it comes to home lighting. Our homes are filled with incandescent and fluorescent bulbs, and recently LED has entered the field, but neon lamps have been noticeably absent.

This is partly down to practicality; you can't just go to the store and pick up a new neon bulb when yours starts to flicker, as replacing a neon bulb requires a special trip and carries a bit heftier price tag. However, construction crews in Los Angeles recently uncovered a working neon light hidden behind a wall that had been continually lit for over 77 years. Such, longevity! When it comes to neon, it's not just about illumination – it's about turning lighting into an art form. You can make virtually any design or colour combination, and create a truly original interior environment.

Sadly I never did own that neon palm tree – it was gone long before I ever started to make 'grown up' money – and that's OK. The love that was set ablaze by that clock is still illuminated by my love for all things neon and 80s, hence this tribute to the brilliance of the neon lamp. 

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