Design Inspiration: 9 Ideas for Backlit Onyx Applications

Think Beinecke Library at Yale University by Gordon Bunshaft of SOM: set architectural precedent by exploiting the possibilities of translucent natural stone.

Translucent stone products possess unique depth and character. In addition to lit bartops and interior feature walls, backlit natural stone can be used in a variety of commercial interior and exterior applications. Whether translucent stone is already a part of your standard design palette or you’re just beginning to explore its capabilities, consider the following design ideas:

1. Curtain walls
Translucent stone can be incorporated into insulated glazing units (IGU) for load-bearing exterior wall applications. Explore the relationship between solid load bearing wall and traditional glazed curtain walls by using translucent stone for the facades of government buildings, libraries, and museums.
2. Suspended ceilings
For intense ambiance in nightclubs, restaurants, hotels, and casinos, translucent ceilings are brought to a whole new level when natural stone is used as the lighted material.
3. Reception desks
Whether used as a curved countertop surface or a monolithic piece of furniture , the texture of natural stone adds an intimate scale to reception counters.  Lit reception desks pull users through space and mark important points of contact in office and hotel interiors.
4. Alternative to stained glass windows
Backlit natural stone has an ethereal quality when employed in religious spaces. Choose a sleek white onyx for modern environments, or a vibrantly textured red and green onyx to mimic the richness of stained glass.
5. Logo walls and partitions
With the proper equipment, natural stone veneer can be etched with custom graphics and inlaid with various materials.  For entrance areas and elevator lobbies, highlight your client’s branding and logo by rendering it in backlit stone. 
6. Water wall features
The elemental nature of both stone and water makes these materials work harmoniously as interior materials. 
7. Fireplace surrounds
Serving as central focal points, fireplaces take on an elegant finish when lighted stone panels are used as the surround finish.
8. Elevator cabs
Especially important when weight is an issue, lightweight stone panels provide a sophisticated finish for high-traffic elevators, areas which are certain to make impact in high-rise offices and hotel interiors.
9. Lamps and sconces
Natural stone lighting sconces can march along a lobby wall, adding scale and variance to typical wall paneling systems.

Backlit Onyx Sconce Fixtures