Add hygge, spend less on art with new sculptural candles

It can be intimidating and expensive to add art to your home decor. Sculptural candles – which exploded in popularity during the pandemic – are an easy, low-stake alternative.

In shapes that are both abstract (knots, drops, twists) and realistic (cakes, torsos, animals), these objects have become more and more common on store shelves in recent years. Videos of people making their own twisted candles and photos of coffee tables adorned with unusual wax figures had appeared regularly on TikTok and Instagram, and the closures have given the trend a boost, says trend expert Dayna Isom Johnson. from Etsy. “It’s really a way for people at home to reinvent their spaces and add a touch of personality for not really much,” she says.

Even as more and more people venture outside, the demand for candles with distinctive shapes has continued. Etsy’s searches for “bubble candles” have increased 7,549% in the past three months; searches for “wavy candles” and “twisted candles” have also exploded.

Annie Auchincloss, housewares buyer for the Museum of Modern Art’s Design Store, has seen many people try out the trend for themselves. “Do-it-yourself candle making is something that so many people can experience and experience,” she says. “I think Lex [Pott, the Dutch designer of the popular free-standing Twist candle] was showing people on his social media how he was experimenting with candles, and it could have inspired people in a way.


With price tags of around $ 8 to around $ 80, they’re cheaper than many fine art. “These are affordable little works of art, and it’s fun to burn them,” says Fabiana Faria, co-founder with Helena Barquet of New York City gift and housewares store Coming Soon, where candle sales have taken off in the past year. What if you decide the shape or style isn’t right for you? “You can try it, you can burn it and it can go away,” says Faria.

Make a statement

When shopping for sculptural candles, choose the ones that are fun or interesting to you. Think about what can be a topic of conversation or what will make you smile when you get home. Coming Soon’s offerings include two from the Dada store – one that looks like legs (“Baby Won’t You Light My Legs?”) And one that looks like an outstretched hand (“Baby Won’t You Light My Fingers? “) – and candles by Hannah Jewett, some of which have piercings.


Amorphous and rounded shapes are very present; shopkeepers we spoke with agree that interior design is moving away from harsh lines and towards more flowing lines, with candles following suit. Auchincloss has seen the trend in all kinds of directions, including the majestic Areaware totems; Talbot & Yoon’s Goober blobby; Pott’s modern rocket-shaped pillars; neoclassical statues and busts; kitsch kitchen candles; and multicolored, twisted cones for more formal dining.

Candle or food?

Connie Matisse, co-founder and CEO of East Fork, a pottery company based in Asheville, North Carolina, tracked down the maker of a hyperrealistic cake-shaped candle her sister kept for years: Cereria Introna. On the East Fork website, she offers fruit, meat, cheese and vegetable candles (with desserts to come) from the Italian company, and she uses them in photoshoots for East’s tableware. Fork.

The fireplace in Connie Matisse's house is filled with candles, including those made by Cereria Introna which are shaped like meat, cheese and fruit.  (Courtesy of Connie Matisse)


Matisse regularly reorganizes his assortment at home. “They crack me up,” she said. “I took a bunch of fruit and put them together, then bought my mother the bottle of chianti and the sausage and mixed them with real meats and cheeses from a store near her house, and I just thought it was fun. “

How and where to display

When you display candles, you can group them with other shapes or treat a candle as a stand-alone work of art. Matisse suggests using a mixture of cones and sculptural forms. Her mantle is adorned with a conical candle in a clay wine bottle alongside pillars and food-shaped candles on either side. The candles and pillars bathe the room in light and let the sculptural candles shine.

Candles with rounded and abstract shapes are popular on Etsy.  (Etsy / LeBonCandles)


Cara Woodhouse, founder of Cara Woodhouse Interiors in New York City, uses interesting candles in many of her projects, and she loves them in bathrooms or grouped together on a table. Layer objects in these spaces and look for contrasting shapes and colors, she advises. To treat the candle as an art object, make it the only element on a surface. “In my designs, I always look for something a little fun, different, and playful in the right areas,” she says.

Abby Price, who opened her interior design boutique, Abbode, in New York City in May, suggests arranging the candles in groups of odd numbers; she loves them in threes. Also use varying heights. “Especially on a shelf, I always try to do something high around the edges to frame, almost like a U shape, then something a little lower in the middle,” she says. Price, who has a background in floral design and fashion, also enjoys arranging candles on stacks of table books. If a bright color is overwhelming, try a funky shape in a softer tone, she suggests.

To burn or not to burn?

Whether to burn the candles is entirely up to you. “I don’t turn on any of the sculptural lights, and neither do most of my clients, because if you turned them on once, they would never look the same,” Price explains. Isom Johnson has several teardrop-shaped candles and textured pillars; she didn’t burn hers, but she intends to. Faria lights hers, because transformation is part of the experience. “There are so many people who buy from us who burn them and use them equally as decor,” she says.

Round-base candles are good candidates for burning, as they will burn inward, say Faria and Matisse. Auchincloss has a ball-shaped candle that she lights, and she loves how, half-burnt, it looks like “a wax jacuzzi”.

Sculptural candles, such as in the form of neoclassical busts, are


Lighting and fusion tips

Trim wicks before lighting to avoid soot and black smoke, and don’t forget to put a shallow dish or bowl underneath to catch drips and protect surfaces. Matisse loves the look of flowing wax; she arranges her candles directly on a small brick wall on her patio and on top of an old farmhouse table, and she lets the wax drip and collect. If you plan to do this, make sure the candles are in a well-ventilated area and never leave burning candles unattended. Most sculptural candles are unscented.

“Sometimes people can be so intimidated by decorating,” says Matisse, “but if you buy things that bring you joy and make you smile and laugh, you can’t go wrong.”

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