Five Rivers

Spanish Style Lighting

Born from Roman influences in antiquity, Spanish architecture has grown to become one of America's most popular styles.

Like nearly all architecture styles, the influences of Spanish design make their way into the home as well. Its characteristics apply to every facet of the home, from Spanish inspired furniture to home lighting fixtures. Spanish style evolved from its past as part of the Roman Empire, embracing popular designs common in Roman cities. The shingled roofs and stucco exteriors were developed centuries ago as rudimentary forms of fireproofing, as fires were quite common in ancient cities. As Rome marched across the ancient world, it carried its styles to its various possessions. Romans are well known for their love of extravagance, and Spanish style inherited this quality. Spain, at the western edge of Europe had much more interesting history after the fall of Rome. In the eighth century the Iberian peninsula was invaded by the growing Islamic Caliphate. The seven hundred year occupation of southern Spain by Arabs, left a distinct influence on the country's architecture. Arabs, originating in the deserts of North Africa, were influenced by their conquest's vastly different landscape. Spain's abundant sources of water were embraced within the home through the frequent use of fountains and baths. Even as the Arabs left their own mark on the design philosophy of the peninsula, they embraced the practicality and openness of Roman house design. Patios were retained, not as a luxury, but as a method of collection rain water in a fountain at the center of the household. Inside the home, lavish Roman motifs which depicted deities and whimsical events were replaced by geometric design patterns. Islamic art shuns the use of iconic images. Instead islamic art makes use of complex geometric patterns that follow a logical flow of the room in which their found, an idea similar to the use of lining up objects in a photograph. The pattern of the design will result in patterns that guides the eyes with aesthetically pleasing results. In 1492, Spain expelled the last Muslim kingdom from their country, and sent a small expedition of three ships across the Atlantic. Within 30 years, Spain had established Europe's first overseas empire with its possessions in the Caribbean and Mexico. The introduction of Spanish architecture in these new far flung regions of the world was met with interesting results. Drawing on influences from the newly conquered regions, Spanish architects gradually adapted to the local design conventions, while retaining their own distinct style. Most colonial buildings were built by native hands, and as result, have an obvious New World feel. The westward expansion of the United States into former Spanish territory brought Americans into contact with these distinct Spanish styles. As it turns out, the use of roof tiles and stucco prove to reduce heat well in warm climates, and have become quite common in the Southwestern United States. However, the design is widely appreciated throughout the country.
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