For the first part of his career, Michael McHale was an entertainment lawyer in the television business in London and, later, New York, doing the legal work of creative people, such as drafting licenses of television formats such as Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? and The Weakest Link.
While he was grateful for that opportunity, McHale chafed at being creative-adjacent -- in a creative industry but not creating anything himself. After many years, that long un-scratched itch became unbearable.
When he went to a high-end design store to buy a light fixture for his apartment, he was disappointed with his factory-made, cookie-cutter choices, as stylish as they were. "Lighting is important" he remembered telling himself at the time. "It should be about something." He thought maybe he could make something more interesting than what was on offer.
Inspiration came during a trip to his local hardware store when he noticed the rough gas pipes and fittings. When combined with high quality crystal, he imagined that the contrast could be quite visually striking.
Prior to 2007, acclaimed lighting designer/chandelier maker Michael McHale was an entertainment lawyer who couldn't remember even saying the word chandelier.
That combination turned out to be far more interesting than he had originally envisaged. When constructed properly - so that each contrasting element displays itself in equal measure - McHale's early fixtures became studies in rough and smooth, masculine and feminine, and what is capable of beauty. There was nothing else like it out there.
There still isn't.
Soon after its start, Michael McHale Designs attracted the attention of the New York Times and the design world, survived the recession which happened soon after opening its doors and for the last thirteen years has been dramatic centerpiece lighting for a far-flung client list, from US senators to TV personalities, cafes in Moscow to boutiques in Doha, and regular people who are secure in their tastes.
McHale realized that there was a deep conservatism in contemporary lighting. Even now, most of the light fixtures we buy differ little from the mid-century lighting of 75 years ago. McHale's mission is to change that.