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Bath Lighting Trip

Bath Lighting Trip

Lighting in Bath
Jim Lawrence Lighting Shop in Bath

As I’m a lighting consultant in South West England, it’s important that I keep in touch with the latest lighting trends which means travelling to see the physical light products myself. I make sure I attend lighting shows and design exhibitions but, over the last couple of years, these have been sparce. A trip to London takes time and I’m finding that many larger stores are devoting less space to their lighting displays which is frustrating.

So recently, I decided to combine business with pleasure and head to Bath to visit the lighting shops and enjoy the ambience. In fact, I’m so enthralled with lighting, that it’s always a pleasure to seek out exciting new feature lights and witness how the light falls from each fitting.

Bath

Bath, in southwest England, is one of my favourite cities, and the beautifully proportioned buildings, in their soft stone is a balm for the soul. I used to visit Bath for weekends when I was a designer in London, but it’s just as easy to travel there from Cornwall. A day is manageable; a weekend is preferable, just to have a more relaxed time enjoying the ambience and experiencing food from some of the fabulous restaurants.

Jim Lawrence

My first port of call was Jim Lawrence who have recently opened an expansive shop in Walcot Street.

I often specify Jim Lawrence for lighting design projects. Their prices are good, and their light fittings sit particularly well in classical interiors. They may not have the wow of such companies as Vaughan and Portaromana, but their quality is excellent and they also have the added benefit or producing door furniture and other ironmongery so that the whole look of your project can be cohesive.  

The shop is very well set out with an enormous range of light fittings without feeling overwhelming. That’s quite an art in itself. Equally, the staff were friendly and attentive without being fawning.

Although I live and breathe lighting it was still really useful to view the lights in reality. I’m currently planning the lighting for a beautiful regency house where the kitchen has a low ceiling, and seeing the lights I was proposing helped me to assess the size more accurately. In the end I chose a mix of the Fulbourn and Ava pendant lights to hang over a long kitchen island. It was very timely, as Jim Lawrence had just added a copper finish to these lights which was perfect, and the clients have now gone ahead with ordering them.  

I would recommend allowing a good amount of time in the shop and if you need to replenish some lampshades, or choose new ones, I would recommend checking these out as well. There’s nothing like actually seeing the size of lampshades to gauge how they will fit with the light fittings or lamps. They also do fabrics and curtain poles, although I forgot to pay them much attention.

The Fine Cheese Company

The Fine Cheese Company, Bath

Not exactly a lighting shop but selecting lighting can be exhausting and one needs a break!

As I had travelled up to Bath with my husband, we decided to treat ourselves to lunch in the small restaurant of this exquisite cheese shop. We chose a platter of cheese and one of delicious charcuterie which came with all the trimmings. The plates were so stylishly and generously laid out that I was fearful we had ordered two double portions. But no, our waiter assured us that they didn’t skimp on quantities and wanted us to enjoy.

Replenished, I decided to visit the next lighting venue.

Felix Lighting Specialists      

I’ve ordered light fittings from this company in the past and I love the combination of renovated original pieces and replicas of the same. Their feature lights are unusual and stylish and many of them incorporate holophane and prismatic glass which I particularly like. This type of glass gives out a soft lighting effect and sits really well in classical interiors when I’m working on renovations.

Felix Lighting Specialists are based in Bartlet Street and I have to confess that I was expecting more of a showroom. They weren’t technically open but there seemed to be an awful lot of people squashed in the interior between the cardboard boxes. It was a Friday so maybe not a good day to visit. Perhaps the boxes were about to be despatched. I chatted to one of the men who worked there and asked some technical questions about adapting a particular fitting. They are incredibly busy, and it seems that since the hospitality trade has cottoned on to them, they barely have time to draw breath.

It’s really worth looking at their website and, if you plan to view a particular light, I would telephone them beforehand to check that you can actually see it. Also, another piece of advice is, if you order a pendant light make sure you specify a ceiling fitting and chain, or flex, as there’s nothing worse than reaching the moment of fitting the light without all the elements.

Holloways of Ludlow

Holloways of Ludlow, Bath

Next stop was Holloways of Ludlow in Milsom Street where they have an amazing and huge showroom which only opened in April 2021.

Here was a feast for the eyes in contemporary design – not only of lighting but also wonderful furniture, including pieces from one of my favourite Danish companies, Carl Hanson and Son. Useful as well to see the Nelson bubble lamps on display as sometimes it’s hard to gauge the size of such pieces.

The range of lighting on display was spectacular and their piece de resistance was the Bocci 28 piece installation that ran down the stairwell. It’s very hard to see pieces like this in their glory unless you go to a hospitality venue such as a hotel or restaurant, and even then it’s hard knowing where they’re situated. There were some other beautifully extravagant pieces as well!

There was a lovely relaxed, expansive feeling about the shop and the people working there were very knowledgeable and friendly. Definitely worth a visit.

Enlighten of Bath

Enlighten of Bath is smaller and has the appearance of being slightly crammed, which is why you will probably need some assistance to find what you’re looking for. At first sight, it seems more for traditional tastes, although the owner, interior designer Anne Fisher, can help you select more contemporary lighting if you prefer.

Graham and Green

I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon Graham and Green in Walcot Street. They hadn’t been on my lighting plan! I will often recommend feature lighting, such as chandeliers, pendant lights or wall lights from this company, although it’s worth noting that their range is constantly changing.

If I suggest a piece from here I will usually recommend the client buys it and puts it in storage, as there’s no guarantee that it will be there in two months time.

Like many catalogue retailers, Graham and Green has progressed through online, to a physical store. It’s a good move, especially in Bath. People really enjoy seeing things in the flesh and, I imagine with so many people being in relaxed shopping mood in Bath, the spontaneous sales must make it a very profitable shop.

The Aurelius pendant light is an impressive piece although Graham and Green’s prices have crept up a bit.

Oka

Oka has a retail outlet on Milsom Street although I didn’t have time to go in and have a look at the lighting. I know their range, which is primarily classical, and I’ve visited their store in Broadway, Gloucestershire which is a wonderful selection of individually furnished rooms all set up in an impressive Georgian house

I think, in the lighting field, Oka’s main strength is their range of lamps. They really do some fabulous table lamps – especially large ones which are well priced. I particularly like their Minerva lamp – a beautiful shape and large and impressive.

At the end of my lighting day, I couldn’t resist nipping back to The Fine Cheese Company to select some cheeses to take back for the weekend. A bit of an indulgence but I felt I deserved it after the long day.

Claire-Pendarves

Claire Pendarves is a lighting designer with over 20 years’ experience

Luxplan offers an online lighting design service ranging from one hour zoom consultancy – ‘Ask me Anything’ to full lighting design and specification. I design and spec; you buy independently

New Colourful Table Lamps

New Colourful Table Lamps

November saw the launch of the Plato lamp designed by Susie Atkinson for Studio Atkinson. Shown here in green but available in seven colours: Flamingo Pink, Oxblood, Seafoam Blue, Flint Grey, Sunflower Yellow, Fern Green and Ivory. A stylish way of bringing in a pop of colour into an interior. Available in large or small and a choice of coolie or drum lampshades. Definitely worth checking out. www.susieatkinson.com

New Sculptural Pieces come to Tremenheere

New Sculptural Pieces come to Tremenheere

james-turrell-sky-space

I was thrilled to see that Cornwall based garden designer Darren Hawkes won a Gold for his Brewin Dolphin garden and that some of the sculptural elements of this will soon be installed at Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens near Penzance. This will be a huge bonus to Tremenheere which already features some outstanding pieces and this news took me back to my involvement with Tremenheere last summer.

Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens

I had received an enquiry on the answerphone in the office for my local lighting design service (Illumina Lighting) but had tried to call the mobile number without success. Heading back from a design job in Lamorna I tried the number again and this time I got through. The man I spoke to said that he wanted to light an art installation and, when I asked whereabouts he was based I was informed that he was near Penzance. As I happened to be only fifteen minutes away I said I could drop by that day so duly rolled up at Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens for the first time on a beautiful late summer’s afternoon.

At the side of the car park stood a gleaming chrome skip that I could only assume was artwork and it raised a little chuckle. Then I went on to meet the creator and driving force behind the gardens, Dr Neil Armstrong, who firstly showed me the striking building housing their fresh and airy restaurant and then guided me through the lush gardens up to the highest point where the most beautiful view of St Michaels Mount and the bay lay before us.

This was, he explained, a tricky lighting task and time was of the essence. He then led me through a pillared entrance leading to an inclining passageway and beyond to one of the most exquisite spaces I have every encountered. An elliptical domed ‘temple’ with a crisp oval opening in the roof casting the sky as the lead player above the cool white vessel below.

James Turrell

This was the work of world renowned American artist James Turrell – a Skyspace come to Cornwall. James Turrell has installations throughout the world; Israel, Japan, China, Australia, Europe and of course, the States. The structure was now finished but it remained unlit and the artist was due to visit in three weeks to see it complete. Time was of the essence! Not only that but the light had to be pure and the angle of the light had to be so delicately placed so as not to highlight any imperfections in the curved structure; in addition it was only to be used at twilight and was not to be the main player – the sky and the light should work in unison, each complimenting and paying tribute the other. A delicate task and a wonderful challenge.

“Oh, and one other point,” said Neil. “There’s no electricity!”

It was a tall ask but I promised to get back to Neil within three days with a solution to the problem. Five days later we met on site in the early evening; I was armed with a two metre length of high output, 2700°K, 95 CRI LED tape with a long lead, driver and plug that we could link to the generator as a temporary measure. The only way we could see how it worked was by trial and error so we positioned the tape and sat back to watch and wait.

There was a stillness in the void and the changing sounds of the settling of the day in the garden beyond. Somewhere nearby an owl hooted and the first touch of autumn entered the night air. We sat, we watched, we changed the angle of the tape. Should it be flat? No the light had to breathe, yet if it was at too great an angle it would throw the light out onto the surface on the other side and the effect directly above it would be lost. And as the crisp sky above us changed to an inky blue, so did the intensity and the effect of the light change in unison.

The verdict was that it was viable but we needed someone to execute the work before the arrival of James Turrell in two weeks. It had to be someone more than a standard electrician as the angling of the LED tape was vital and it would need to be checked constantly during the progression of the work. And it had to be someone who could start immediately. I promised Neil I would get back to him with an answer although silently I was stumped.

Then, in the middle of the night the answer popped into my head. There was only one person who I felt would do the job with the delicacy required. I had met lighting artist Eleanor Bell a couple of times and had seen some of her pieces; she was an artist but she was also a qualified electrician and, although our client base overlapped and she was, in effect my competitor, my gut feeling was that she would be right for the job. The most important point was that the job was done well and was sympathetic to the vision that James Turrell had.

I put my ego aside and phoned Eleanor. As it turned out she was thrilled to be approached as she is a huge admirer of James Turrell and had even written her university dissertation on him. Another magical evening of testing, tweaking, discussions and conclusions was spent in the Skyspace. I received an order for supplying the LED tape and then, feeling that my part of the job had been done, I passed the installation over to Eleanor’s competent hands.

James Turrell duly arrived and gave his seal of approval to the lighting. Everyone heaved a huge sigh of relief, Eleanor met her hero and yet another layer was added to the ethereal Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens.

Claire-Pendarves

Claire Pendarves is a lighting designer with over 20 years’ experience. Meet the Lighting Designer

Luxplan offers an online lighting design service ranging from one hour zoom consultancy – ‘Ask me Anything’ to full lighting design and specification. I design and spec; you buy independently

 

New Daylight Generating Skylight

New Daylight Generating Skylight

An impassioned presentation was made at Luxlive by Paulo Di Trapani, the inventor of the Coelux daylight-generating skylight. This wonderful new invention won the Light Source Innovation of the Year award at LuxLive 2014 where the installation was on display in all its glory.

Ten years in the making and currently at the approximate cost of £45,000 for supply and installation this is a rather fantastic design toy but it does raise the question of where it can lead us on our journey of sympathetic and energy efficient lighting. In the words of Coelux “The effect is so convincing that if you were to walk into a room illuminated by CoeLux unaware of our new technology, you might think nothing of it until you realize it’s a dreary day outside or that it’s 10 o’clock in the evening.”
Whilst this is a remarkable phenomenon it would need to be used carefully as the juxtaposition of a gloomy day visible from the same area into which wonderful sunshine is pouring would, in reality, be rather unnerving.
This invention is remarkable and exciting both in terms of the future of alternative lighting sources and the health benefits that it could offer generations to come.
Currently available through Ideaworks, this phenomenon can be viewed at the Experience Centre in Great Portland Street, London W1W 5QJ – www.ideaworks.co.uk