British Contemporary Lighting by CTO Lighting
CTO Lighting produce some stunning pieces which have a balance of form that comes with exceptionally skilled design coupled with perfect craftsmanship.
Founded in 1998 by trained engineer Chris Turner and his wife Clare who originally came from a fashion background, the company has gone from strength to strength; they have even been commissioned to create bespoke pieces for The Savoy Hotel, The Dorchester and St Pancreas Renaissance Hotel to name a few.
Quality is key and they place an emphasis on using premium natural materials such as hand-finished brass, mouth-blown glass and artisan-crafted stone which gives each piece an individuality of its own.
CTO Lighting has an online shop as well as a brochure. Their showroom is in North London, details on their website.
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British Classical Lighting
Christopher Hyde Lighting was founded in 1995 and produces quintessentially English lighting, perfectly suited to classical homes, although they do now design and manufacture some transitional contemporary lighting as well. They have a factory in Milton Keynes and altogether employ the skills of some 60 – 80 artisans at any one time.
One of their main strengths is the amount of customised light fittings they can produce – various metal finishes, coloured flex cables and bespoke lampshades which attracts owners of larger properties, hotels and yachts.
Christopher Hyde have an online website and a showroom in Chelsea Design Centre, London.
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ORIGINAL BTC – Beautifully British
I’m going to start my series on British Lighting with one of my absolute favourites: Original BTC.
I’m particularly fond of Original BTC as I sold a huge quantity of their wonderful lighting when I had a showroom several years ago. In fact I could honestly say that my company Illumina was practically launched on the back of Original BTC.
I remember stumbling across their small stand at a trade fair in 2005 when I was sourcing products for my new venture. I was bowled over by their clean, unique style and I felt sure they would sell well in Cornwall so I placed a large order on the spot. At that time, I seem to recall that the majority of their sales was overseas, especially in France, but over the years they’ve gone from strength to strength with showrooms now in London, New York, Paris and Taiwan. They also export to over 85 countries.
Founded in 1990 by Peter Bowles, Original BTC is a true family business with six family members being directly involved. They own six production facilities including a glass factory, ceramics factory and metal works with their headquarters and assembly factories based in Oxfordshire.
The company has also incorporated two other British brands into their empire. Beadlight and Davey Lighting (robust and stylish exterior lighting), which sit well with their interior range. Their service is excellent and they will always try to meet any specific requirements, such as extra length cord or in-line switches.
One of the other joys of ordering from Original BTC is that their packaging is perfect and I can’t remember ever having complained about breakages.
My all-time favourite has to be the Hector range and you can see the Hector lamp being made here:
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We Have Some Fabulous Lighting in the UK
For many years now so many of us have revered Italian, Spanish and Scandinavian lighting without paying heed to the wealth of fabulous lighting that’s designed and manufactured in the UK.
Without being jingoistic I truly believe that now is the time we should open our eyes to what’s available within our shores. There are some wonderful British designers and lighting companies who employ a huge number of artisans using British products. It’s time for us to support them and this, in turn, will do a bit towards helping our national economy.
Over the next few weeks I’m going to cover some of these companies so you will be able to see what’s available and hopefully this will encourage you to buy British.
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Hello to everyone and I hope you’re all well and safe. Maybe I’m being a bit optimistic saying ‘post’ Covid but hopefully that will be the case in a few weeks.
Either way, I’ve done a lot of thinking during lockdown (as I’m sure many of you have) and I’ve decided to make some changes to the lighting service:
I’m now offering 3 tiers of my lighting design service ranging from a one hour telephone consultation to the full ‘gold’ service where plans are marked up and a full specification supplied – the same as offered previously. This will ensure the design advice is more appropriate to your needs and budget.
I no longer supply lighting at all for either of our websites. In the past I would only supply to local clients, or if Luxplan clients had difficulty sourcing products. I now only do the lighting consultancy service.
As I’ve rather enjoyed a more relaxed pace of life I will be spacing out my work more so life isn’t so hectic. This means I will take on one large project a week, possibly with a couple of one hour consultations. Everything seems to be waking up again now and work is coming in, so if you have a project in mind please book in your time slot and I will aim to keep it free for you.
Finally, due to reducing my turnover I will be de-registering for VAT which means the service will be cheaper for you. Up until now, VAT could not be reclaimed on my lighting fees but soon VAT won’t be charged at all which should help the bottom line. NB Customs & Excise is currently overloaded with companies de-registering for VAT so this may take some time.
I’ve been meaning to make changes for a while so that my lighting design service is more appropriate to clients’ needs. Please let me know if you think I could add something else that you think would be helpful to you.
Changes will be up on the website shortly.
Meanwhile, thanks to all my clients and I hope you stay safe and happy.
Decorex International 2019 had some fabulous new lighting. Here are some of my favourites
Some of the best inspiration comes from seeing what award winning lighting designers are currently doing. Here are my favourites from the Lighting Design Awards 2019
How to Light your Bathroom
Bathrooms are becoming more and more important to self-builders these days. Clients who are renovating properties often turn a whole bedroom into a family bathroom or will split one room to make two ensuite shower rooms. Gone are the days when a single pendant hanging from the ceiling of a steamy bathroom would suffice.
Look further than Bathroom Lights
If you can’t find what you like in the way of bathroom light fittings how about looking at exterior lighting? In both the bathrooms below we used exterior lights that met the IP rating criteria. These bathrooms were designed several years ago and nowadays it is easier to find similar products specifically made for bathrooms.
Bathroom Downlights are not always appropriate
So many houses these days have bedrooms and bathrooms built into the eaves with sloping roofs and insulation. This can create drawbacks. Firstly, you will need to ensure that the downlights will be able to tilt the light downwards, or at least are frosted so that they don’t dazzle. Secondly, to avoid the downlights, or even the GU10 LED lamps from overheating the insulation will need to be pushed back around the fitting. This will compromise the insulation qualities which isn’t ideal. I often use surface mounted exterior spotlights in this case which means that the light falls where you want it to and ceiling and roof remain intact.
The pendant light above was a fitting from Artemide although sadly it’s no longer being manufactured.
Creating Atmosphere in Bathrooms
Shower rooms generally do not need a great deal of atmospheric lighting but most people like to soak in a bath at some stage, sometimes with a drink to hand – or music or even a screen to watch. Always create various circuits and ideally build one circuit that will be purely atmospheric. This can also double up as soft lighting to come on when visiting the bathroom at night – much kinder on the eyes.
Lighting near Basins
Bathroom wall lights either side of a mirror will give the most complimentary lighting. Beware illuminated mirrors as some of them will give out very dazzling and harsh light; it’s advisable to see them lit in a bathroom showroom before purchasing.
In summary, although bathrooms may be some of the smallest rooms in the house they are definitely not insignificant and as much care and attention should be paid to their lighting as all the other rooms throughout.
How to avoid the Pokemon syndrome
Many years ago when our son was young there was a huge Pokemon craze and Charlie and his friends were obsessed. Not so for many parents – my husband and I would draw straws as to who would have the task of accompanying the kids to the cinema. Normally we loved taking the children to the cinema but we both disliked Pokemon. In fact it was the only time that I was almost pleased if our son misbehaved as I would have no alternative but to carry out my threat: “If you misbehave you WON’T go to the Pokemon movie!’ But as we parents know these phases come and go.
To get to the point – one of Charlie’s best friends was treated to a bespoke hand painted bedroom by a local artist. The walls were covered in Pokemon action scenes. All his friends were green with envy, his parents were happy and proud despite their lighter pockets – and the room was repainted a couple of years later.
The moral of this story: your child’s life is a progression. What your child needs today in terms of decoration or lighting in their room may change in the years to come. That’s why I will always try and be flexible when lighting a child’s room.
Here are a few recommendations.
My favourite ceiling fitting is the Ethel Lampshade by One Foot Taller. This merely fits to a ceiling fitting (either a pendant or flush light fitting) and gives a lovely soft light out. It’s one of my favourite lighting products. I’ve used it in a dental surgery in an old converted warehouse where the ceilings were low and I’ve put it in countless bedrooms and living rooms. One client recently praised it saying it’s a light that’s there but not there. It’s also practically indestructible and will withstand numerous pillow fights. Also you can literally take if off the light fitting and wash it in the bath with a shower hose. Easy.
Over the course of the following years the furniture may vary from cot to single bed to bunk bed to double bed so the room has to be flexible to accommodate the future changes. My favourite method of incorporating this is to use plug in wall lights. The Scandinavians use these far more than we do in the UK and their lights often will come in with a lead but can be hard wired if preferred.
I love the Radon wall light by Fritz Hansen. A wonderfully flexible fitting that can be flipped up for reading or can be tucked in to give a soft ambient light so very useful if your child needs a light on before going to sleep.
Original BTC also do several wall lights that can come with a plug in flex, available in fun funky colours. Also, if necessary you can order additional length lead and different variations but this would need to be done by phone rather than via the website.
If you’re on a budget it’s worth looking in Ikea as they have quite a few plug in wall lights.
Fibre Optic Starlight Ceiling
One magical addition you can make to your child’s bedroom is creating a twinkling star ceiling – this will be enjoyed for many years, right up to adulthood. But… before you get too enthusiastic about the idea you need to assess the access to the ceiling of the room. If there’s a loft about the ceiling, or you’re in the early stages of a new build then this is a feasible option; if there’s no access from above you should drop it like a hot potato. I use Starscape fibre optic kits. Your child will love them but your electrician will curse you – they are time consuming to install and there’s quite a bit of thought that needs to go into creating random perforations that are random in a balanced way. I know – I’ve spent many hours at the top of a ladder!
If you have any questions about your ceiling do give them a ring as they are incredibly helpful.
The final tweak you can make is by adding colourful lamps. Don’t like the colour of the lamp base? Why not paint it with an Annie Sloan paint?
Want a unique lampshade? Why not make your own shade with a kit from Dannells.
All the above leave a flexible room for the future when your children grow up and come back to stay as fully fledged adults. And not a Pokemon in sight!
Think Safety on a Building Site
Several years ago I visited a client who was renovating a Victorian property which had been completely gutted and we were walking around the first floor, discussing various options for the lighting. I was distracted, looking up at the height of the ceilings and beams that were exposed when I turned to walk into a bedroom only to find that there was absolutely no floor at all! No barrier, no tape, no police cordon indicating ‘human about to die here’ – just a sheer drop to the floor below. My emotions ranged from shock to relief to disbelief that anyone could be so stupid and gung-ho with people’s lives!
It only takes a second. Literally! An interior designer friend told me of an incident she witnessed whilst working in South Africa when a workmen dropped a screwdriver from some scaffolding which proceeded to slice through a worker’s head like butter. He died on the spot. Always wear a hard hat!
A government report shows that there were 38 fatal injuries to workers in the construction industry in the UK during 2017/18. The majority of deaths were from workers having fallen from a height (48%), 12% being trapped by something collapsing, 11% being struck by an object, then down to 9% being struck by a vehicle and 6% dying from contact with electricity. Apparently the annual average is 39 – a terrible number of precious lives and grieving families.
The number of non-fatal injuries is phenomenal – 58,000 in 2017/18 although this will range from a mere scratch to extreme breakages. Apparently, though there were more injuries in the Agriculture, Forestries and Fishing sector than construction. View the full report here.
We can’t go around living in terror that we’re going to fall off the perch at any moment but we can at least take precautions. When a foreman on a building site asks you to put on a hard hat and wear a high-viz jacket please thank him and shake his hand. They may not be the flattering or fashionable items of clothing but they are there for your protection and could save your life.