When we visited Hillside Drive in Topanga recently, we couldn’t help noticing the unusual light fitting above the dining table. It’s shaped like a barrel, but completely rusted and perforated with countless tiny holes, some of which have crumbled away completely.
We asked owner Jill Young Rosenast what it was and where it came from – and the answer was as surprising as the design itself. “In the South,” she explained, “they put old oil drums out in the field and use them for target practice. My friend Kirk Albert found it when he was on one of his buying trips.”
Target practice. In other words, this oil drum had been shot at. Shot almost to pieces, in fact. Hence the endless perforations.
Jill’s friend Kirk Albert is a something of a legend in the world of vintage furnishings, and deals in extraordinary objects with “perfect imperfections” out of his showrooms in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood. He scours the country, visiting local markets and the barns of rural folk artists, looking for treasures, then ships them back to his workshop to be cleaned up, modified, mounted, re-wired or left completely untouched.
In this case, Kirk picked the oil drum light up at an antique market in Nashville, Tennessee. As he recalls, “I was told by the dealer from whom I purchased it that it came off of a local farm where target practice was commonplace. Clearly. I drove this back across the country, along with a truckload of interesting one-of-a-kind treasures.”
Once back in Seattle, he upgraded the chain and the socketry, and hung it in his showroom. Jill and her husband Alex, who restore historic buildings in the city and have been collaborating with Kirk for over 12 years, share his taste for perfectly imperfect designs — and they fell for the lamp instantly. “They seek out one-of-a-kind, interesting, story-telling objects,” he tells us. “This fixture is very them and it looks amazing in the dining room. The illumination casts the most beautiful shadows at night. I find the texture most intriguing.”
We love the ingenuity of this piece, and the story behind it. Visit the oil drum light at Hillside Drive here, and Kirk Albert’s magical world here.