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Drink to light! Couple repurpose liquor bottles

From gin to whiskey, they recycle moments and memories into works of art

Temple Bluecoat lamp
The stunning deep blue rectangular Bluecoat American Dry Gin bottle is combined with a classic royal blue and white chinoiserie temple print drum, looking like an oriental porcelain ware.

Artsy is turned into lamp.

In a world now badly lit, accidental table lamp entrepreneurs Rupert and Pepper Henson, the husband-and-wife tandem behind Happy Light Mnl, have been lighting up spaces at home. The lightbulb moment for their passion project happened in the midst of the pandemic.

“It’s a quarantine baby of my husband and me,” says Pepper. It was during one of those “happy hour” sessions at home that they realized there was an abundance of liquor bottles too pretty to pitch.

Since then, they have been repurposing discarded liquor bottles, breathing new life—and light—into them, and turning them into unique handcrafted table lamps that “spark joy.”  With everyone stuck at home during quarantine, people started to transform their interiors. And as seen in Happy Light Mnl’s Instagram account, clients were more than happy to share how the repurposed lamps created cozy home vignettes that are both original and inspired.

“Good lighting instantly improves the mood of a certain space,” explains Pepper. “It’s an easy and very affordable way to ‘prettify’ any space.”

Rupert has always been very good with tools, so it’s no surprise that he takes care of the technical framework of the lamp, assuring high-quality lighting, while Pepper handpicks the fabrics and infuses creativity into each design.

“We always imagine something that we want to display in our home,” says Pepper. “So, the design process is really very personal. We pick fabrics that appeal to us, and my husband makes sure that the lamps are well executed.”

Both now split their time between their actual day job and Happy Light Mnl, while raising two boys.

The Kavalan lamp was the couple’s “experimental piece” at the start. It was made of an empty Kavalan Concertmaster Single Malt Whisky bottle—in rich emerald glass, exquisite in itself, that commemorates the famous Taipei 101 (the world’s tallest skyscraper, until 2009). With the sculpture-like quality of the base, they chose a vibrant garden bird-theme shade, resulting in a piece that feels both masculine and feminine at the same time.

The Kavalan lamp was the couple’s ‘experimental piece,’ made of empty Kavalan Concertmaster Single Malt Whisky bottle in rich emerald glass

 “When it was done, we loved it so much,” exclaims Pepper. “We couldn’t bear to part with it.” It now decorates Rupert’s music corner, adding a warm glow to the setting.

 “The Blue Label bottles are always a hit,” Pepper adds, “and gin bottles are favorites also, because there are a lot of beautiful gin bottles out there.”

The couple gives homeowners a free hand in choosing the fabrics for the bottles. But they’ve come up with their own designs, utilizing a wide range of dynamic fabric and liquor bottle choices.

For instance, they’ve paired Gin Mare’s Mediterranean-inspired bottle with a fluid abstract fabric tinted with blues, whites, and grays—the same elements that seemed to echo the bottle’s design, a seamless blending of the sea and sky.

Then there is the queen of the mix—the Royal Salute 21 Year Blended Scotch Whisky bottle, an ode to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. It was dramatically paired with a royal blue and white shirred ikat print. It’s the perfect modern maximalist statement piece.

The stunning deep blue rectangular Bluecoat American Dry Gin bottle was tied together with a classic royal blue and white chinoiserie temple print drum, reminiscent of oriental porcelain ware.

Then there’s the painterly Parisian toile de jouy fabric, rendered in different drum shapes and sizes. It elegantly goes well with any base, from a blue sapphire and a deep amber, to a clear vintage whisky bottle. A square acacia base provides the finishing touch.

Plantitas of Manila will immediately gravitate towards intricate bottles that are lavishly adorned with botanical lampshades of luscious ferns, tropical palms, and all kinds of florals.

A year and numerous repurposed lamp shades later, the Hensons decided to work on a special collection with Beyond Borders, a brand specializing in handwoven fabrics that aims to raise awareness of Abel weaving. The couple wanted to create what they aimed, and hoped for “something proudly made in the Philippines.”

The collection of Abel lamp shades was woven on ancient handlooms using traditional weaving techniques handed down through generations

The collection of lamp shades was special, made in Ilocos, woven on ancient handlooms using traditional weaving techniques handed down through generations. The exclusive designs were a homage to Pinoy culture—jeepneys, pineapple fruit, and Pinoy street food (think taho, isaw, and fishballs) were unexpectedly embroidered in the fabrics. These were perfectly complemented with unique bottle shapes and designs made by local distillers, still staying true to the Pinoy narrative. Gorgeous bottles of Don Papa Rum, Kanto Salted Caramel Vodka, ARC Botanical Gin, and Santa Ana Gin provided a dynamic base for the lamp.

The design collaboration resulted in refined, meaningful, and proudly Pinoy pieces that are sure to be great conversation pieces for the home.

If you can’t find what you are looking for in Happy Light Mnl’s extensive table lamp collection, they are more than happy to discuss your unique lampshade and bottle requirements. “People love to send us memorable bottles from their weddings, proposals, or liquor bottles that once belonged to their loved ones to turn into lamps,” they said.  A client once sent her son’s Lego pieces, now turned into a bespoke collectible milk bottle lamp. It takes two to three weeks for the Hensons to complete production.

“Anything you fancy, anything that ‘sparks joy,’ you can literally shine the spotlight on,” reassuringly says their Instagram post, “from art pieces, books to memorable toys…the possibilities are endless.”

These repurposed liquor bottle beauties make great gifts, whether it be for a housewarming or a special birthday, to add festive cheer to celebrations, or even as a reward to yourself, sans the alcohol. Perhaps a repurposed lamp might just be exactly what you need to somehow better illuminate your sacred home nooks—or your life.

For more information on Happy Light Mnl, follow them on Facebook and on Instagram @happylightmnl; send a DM for inquiries.

About author

Articles

She was a magazine editor, author of style books, a newspaper lifestyle columnist who has settled in Spain with her husband and daughter, now a stylish tot.

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