Repurposing Light: The Illuminating Creations of Paul Pisanelli


Montgomari Parsons & Paul Pisanelli (Image: Bob Knorpp)

Finding art in everyday items is a personal passion of mine. I suppose it’s because finding beauty in the mundane takes a special eye. And that’s why the work of Paul Pisanelli so fascinates me.

I met Paul and his partner, Montgomari Parsons, at the Brooklyn Flea in Williamsburg this past Sunday. They were setting up their stall and I was doing my best impression of an amateur photographer, when we struck up a conversation. And those few words turned into a story I unraveled for the next half hour.

At first I assumed that the lamps in the stall were salvage. But what I discovered was a backstory that was far more interesting. Because Paul was a tinker artist in the first degree. Every piece in the stall was an original creation, cobbled together from the part of other lamps, as well as bits and pieces of raw materials Montgomari and he found along the way.

Paul describes his work. (Image: Bob Knorpp)

Like all good art of this type, the work was all in the detail. A lighting fixture should never steal the show in a space — it’s there to illuminate and accent. So it took a considered eye to truly appreciate the attention he put into every piece. From specially designed weighted bases to repurposed electrical and plumbing tubing, each piece was a complex blend of found parts, specially milled levers and rare stone, all re-created into artistic expressions.

As we talked, I also learned that I was not talking with just any old flea market vendor, but an award-winning lighting fixture expert who had designed and installed pieces in the homes of people like John Leguizamo. And he was an artist in the truest sense, telling me about his unique creations that straddled the line between function and the extravagant, incorporating lighting and mechanical elements in a steampunk style.


New York Vintage Lighting (Image: Bob Knorpp)

Owning one of these pieces doesn’t come cheap. The unique (many times, one-of-a-kind) pieces I saw in the stall ranged from $165 to $850, and his custom installations can run into the many thousands of dollars. But clearly these are conversation pieces that are worth every penny. And Paul and Montgomari are such engaging characters, you can almost justify the prices just to spend time with them.

If you’d like to check out more of the work by Paul, check out the blog that Montgomari runs for their company, at

Robert Knorpp
Robert Knorpp is host of The BeanCast Marketing Podcast at and is President of The Cool Beans Group, a marketing strategy consultancy based in New York City. He likes laughing even more than breathing. You can follow the madness on Twitter at
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4 Responses to Repurposing Light: The Illuminating Creations of Paul Pisanelli

  1. penelope September 15, 2011 at 9:58 am #

    i have known Paul for almost forty years now, andas long as i remeber he is a man of many talents, his pieces of art are so unique, and different it is worth buying just to have the one of a kind. i am honered to have known this person since childhood, and he is very engaging in conversation.

  2. Mary Ann and Herb Karlow October 22, 2011 at 5:15 am #

    My husband and I first came across Paul and Montgomari at the Boston Flea when we spotted a wonder gem of a lamp with pieces of beautiful green agate. We quickly purchased that and continued to visit them in subsequent weeks both at the Flea and in their home in Manhattan where they keep a small inventory in addition to their main showroom in the Hudson Valley. Paul’s lamps are irresistible. His creativity and attention to detail clearly demonstrate his love of what he does so wonderfully and his true appreciation for the past. Paul will work with you to be sure each lamp meets both your aesthetic and practical needs. Ultimately, we ended up owning four of his lamps.
    But that is only the half of it! Paul and Montgomari are such interesting people to speak with. Each has a background and additional interests that you wouldn’t suspect and that you are only privy to when you engage them in conversation. WHAT A TREAT TO HAVE MET THEM.

  3. Anne Sotmary johnson February 9, 2012 at 12:52 am #

    can I get a message to Paul. I think I knew him from queens ny and from Eldred. would love to see what he’s up to. i’m in alaska, so he’s safe!!!use my email or facebook account. love you and your family. Anne

  4. Robert Knorpp
    Bob Knorpp February 20, 2012 at 7:49 am #

    There’s a link at the end of the story above that takes you their blog and provides an email address and I believe a phone number as well. Good luck!

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