What is RLM?

by Betsy Levin on September 14, 2021

Deep Bowl Pendant

At Montclair Light Works, www.montclairlightworks.com we have partnered with a Southern California manufacturer with over 35 years of experience spinning aluminum RLM shades. Our RLM Fixtures are handcrafted by our artisans and pay homage to a more industrial time. Hand spinning aluminum is an art form, a craft that is still alive and well at Montclair Light Works, here we asked questions of the pros themselves.

Q. What is an RLM fixture?

A. The iconic reflector design was introduced in the early 20th century to efficiently direct light from old filament lamps onto industrial work surfaces. The new downlights provided improved working conditions, ensuring less error and a more productive work environment. Back then, the acronym RLM stood for “reflector light microscopy” but over time has evolved and today most specifiers and designers refer to RLM as the “Reflector Luminaire Manufacturer.”

Over the years, the aluminum-spun designs have remained a favorite for lighting designers, contractors, and commercial and residential building owners. The abundant combination of shade styles, mounting options, and color schemes offer versatility for any project.

Q. Why an RLM fixture?

A. It is important to remember that R stands for “reflector,” which provides a specific function. The purpose is to direct light over a specific application, such as illuminating your garage workshop, a card game on the porch, your front entryway. Montclair Light Works uses heavy-duty aluminum to create geometric shade forms and adds UV resistant Powder coat making our fixtures versatile and durable.

As warehouse and factory conversions to office spaces, living quarters, eateries, or event centers, RLM shades keep the vintage style intact. Shades can be colorful to add a bit of flair or may be used with a wire grill to keep an industrial look. 

Q. Where would I use an RLM fixture?

A. You will find outdoor RLM fixtures scattered on vintage warehouse buildings, your favorite local eateries, commercial buildings, retail shops, and in your own neighborhood. One of the most popular RLM styles, the Warehouse or barn light shade is famous for its ties to rural buildings and storehouses. The nostalgic design is currently popular with designers that want to give spaces a modern farmhouse feel.

On the exterior of a building near you, there may be a RLM Angle Gooseneck  lighting up company signage or a mural. Its shade is angled to wash a wall with downlight. Near it, you may find a Warehouse Wall Sconce or two, mounted on either side of a front door, to guide guests to your entry. Inside, a Deep Bowl Pendant over a dining table at a restaurant or at home.

XL Choices are a statement piece over a countertop or in large open spaces. The prominent extra-large spun pendants will catch your guest’s attention immediately. The reflective properties will also offer a beautiful lighting experience for anyone passing through or sitting beneath.

Q. How do I configure the right RLM fixture for my project?

A. For most lighting design scenarios, there is a RLM shade solution. Not only are RLM spun shades functional, but they are also configurable. Subtle changes in finish or mounting can radically transform their presentation.

With the RLM style, you can build a fixture from scratch. Start with a shade style then choose a mount style. They can be cord or stem hung pendants, or classic gooseneck or wall sconce arm mounts. There is also an abundance of accessory options that can transform the design of your fixture. For example, the addition of a cast aluminum guard with glass jar over the light source ensures a weathertight lighting solution. Add a swivel to a gooseneck arm mount so you may direct your light more accurately.

Q. Where can I purchase an RLM fixture?

A. There are many lighting showrooms throughout the country that display and sell RLM fixtures. At Montclair Light Works, www.montclairlightworks.com we have chosen our most popular shade shapes and mounts as well as accessory options and pre-configured our product line, to eliminate a little of the guesswork, and streamline the selection process.