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
I’m going to start my summary of 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 lighting showroom, 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.
My favourite Original BTC wall light is the Hector
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.
British Contemporary 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.
Bold and Beautiful British Lighting
Bert Frank was founded in 2013 by designer Robbie Llewellyn and factory owner Adam Yeates. Right from the beginning they’ve manufactured their products in the UK, primarily in a factory in the heart of Birmingham where they combine traditional manufacturing methods with cutting-edge technology.
I first came across them at Decorex in 2014 and was immediately smitten by their Sheer wall light (photographed here) which has the makings on a true classic. Since their launch they’ve won several awards, such as the 2016 Elle Decoration British Design Award for Lighting and the Best Product Award at the Design et al International Design Awards.
Their products are definitely high-end and they certainly have luxurious price tags, but to my mind they are way up there with the best.
They have a good website and a showroom in East London, details on their website.
Classical Lighting Made in England
Jim Lawrence founded his business in 1994, originally as a way of supplementing the income from his Suffolk farm. He set up a forge in one of the farm buildings and started making specialist pieces for friends and neighbours.
Over the years Jim Lawrence has expanded enormously from metalwork to fabrics and soft furnishings, although the lighting now accounts for 60-70% of the company’s sales. I often direct clients to the Jim Lawrence website when they are looking for classical pieces that don’t break the bank.
The company is a true family business, still run by Jim and Sheena Lawrence and it employs up to three generations of local families as well as staff in its new showroom in Bath.
They have a really good website as well as showrooms in Suffolk and Bath.
Read more about my visit to the new Jim Lawrence Showroom in my article Bath Lighting Trip
Beautiful Lighting Made in Cornwall
Tom Raffield is one of Cornwall’s most notable designers having originally trained at Falmouth College of Arts. He now runs a 30 strong team of craftsmen in his country workshop in Cornwall, producing lighting and furniture sold in the UK and overseas.
All his products are not only made in the UK but are sustainable and environmentally friendly so tick all the boxes when it comes to sourcing with a clean conscience. They’ve recently gone one notch higher, having partnered with Ecologi to offset their employees’ carbon footprints.
Initially Tom Raffield became known, from the lighting perspective, for his signature bent wood Butterfly pendant lights, but he’s gone on to expand his range enormously. My favourite WOW pieces are the Skipper and Arame Wall Lights but I also love his new Loer pendants which are contemporary but with his own individual stamp.
Personally (especially as I live in Cornwall) I think it’s wonderful that Tom employs so many people locally as well as designing and producing fabulous natural products that add to the plethora of great products that come from Cornwall.
Purchases can be made online and there is also a new showroom in Falmouth, details on the website.
This is a small family business based in Yorkshire created in 2000 by Nigel Tyas and his wife Elizabeth Stocker. It has now been bought by brothers Daniel and Gareth Lowe who employ a small team of metalworkers and electricians. They also use the services of a local ceramicist and a glass company based in Somerset.
When an order is placed, all the metalwork is assigned to one craftsman from start to finish. This helps to ensure quality control as well as instilling a sense of pride and accomplishment so lacking in some of the larger manufacturing companies these days.
As they are based in Sheffield, the heart of British metalworking heritage, they try to source all their materials and components locally as much as possible. All their work carries the prestigious ‘Made in Sheffield’ mark (discreetly) which also gives a stamp of provenance.
Most of the products suit older properties but I do love the Cubley wall light which is perfect for bringing a contemporary light effect into a classical interior.
Prices are realistic and personalised adaptations of designs are also possible.
Well worth checking out.
Elegant Lighting Made in Britain
Wrought Iron Lighting made in Britain
Soane doesn’t just produce beautiful sophisticated lighting. They also design and produce a wide range of timeless furniture, wallpaper and fabrics. All these are made in the UK by a plethora of craftsmen who serve as the bedrock to this thriving design company.
Founded in the late 1990s by designer Lulu Lytle who has a passion for British crafts and classical architecture, Soane now boasts showrooms in London (Pimlico Road) as well as San Francisco and Manhattan in the USA.
The use of rattan is taken to extraordinary heights giving a fresh twist to some classical pieces, both with lighting as well as chairs, sofas and tables. I love their pendant fittings and I don’t know anywhere that you would find such original and well-balanced rattan pieces. Table lamps are lovely also. Everything is individual, original and beautifully designed.
Their products have serious prices. Don’t expect to see them on the website – you need to enquire. But they are beautiful, they are high-end and there is the option for bespoke.
I absolutely love the Chinnery Wall Lantern and it is now stored in my mental Filofax.
Curiousa and Curiousa
Magical Lighting Made in Britain
I absolutely love the Alice in Wonderland title of this fabulous lighting company. As original as Lewis Carroll’s book, they take us on an enchanted journey where the only boundaries are limitations in the production process.
Curiousa and Curiousa was founded in 2010 by Esther Patterson who was first spotted by Liberty London during a ‘Designer Open Call’ that year. Liberty went on to retail some of her products which goes to prove what good taste they have.
All the pieces are designed and manufactured in C&C’s factory in a historic mill in Derbyshire and all the glass is free-blown, without the use of moulds, which means that each piece is totally unique. Every order is custom made in any combination of 21 different glass colours which vary from transparent to semi-opaque. There’s also a range of different ceiling fittings and flex colours as well as the incredibly useful option to produce certain fittings to IP45 so they can be used in bathrooms.
The pendant lights are fabulous and above you will see how stunning they can look in a stairway, but I also love their Bass Siren wall light seen here giving a really unique flavour to a bathroom.
Curiousa and Curiousa have recently moved their London showroom to a large building next to their factory in Derbyshire so that, during the current pandemic, they can adhere to social distancing rules. However, they can do online virtual visits or will visit clients where appropriate. Hopefully, things will change very soon but in the meantime some of their pieces can be seen in the Martin Moore showrooms in Notting Hill and Fulham.
I adore Curiousa and Curiousa and it’s one of the highlights of such shows as Decorex to see what beautiful products they have on display.
Architectural Lighting Made in Scotland
Originally founded by Mike Stoane in 1995, and known formerly as Mike Stoane Lighting, this company started its life in a small lock-up in Scotland. They are now an employee-owned business based in a large workshop outside Edinburgh where a full team of product designers, engineers and technical staff all work together.
They make fabulous high-tech LED luminaires designed to last and if you’re into precision engineering then they will definitely appeal.
I’ve used them in a few projects – lighting some tricky artwork and also in a conference centre where the tiny diodes needed to be hidden within some classical panelling. Their products are excellent although they come with a price and would usually be specified for high-end commercial projects.
Stoane Lighting work closely with lighting designers and architects and are able to do special orders – a service which is invaluable to designers where colour temperature, beam angles and light quality is key. And they are made here in the British Isles. It has to be good!
You can learn more about them here
Luxury Lighting made in the UK
Despite the Italian-sounding name this company is totally British and was started in a tiny London workshop by Andrew and Sara Hills in 1988. I seem to remember hearing that they named it after their favourite place in Italy and I suppose in those days if you wanted to make design products sound classy, an Italian name would have seemed an asset.
However, all their lighting and fine furniture is made here in England, in the countryside. They employ a large number of fine artisans, many of whom start with them as apprentices and they still retain some of the original craftsmen from their early days.
Porta Romana are now renowned for their unique designs and quality which doesn’t come without a price. But their products are quirky, timeless and original with a wide range of bespoke finishes and an impeccable service. I’ve supplied lighting from Portaromana on many occasions and each time my clients have been delighted.
Some of my favourites are the Llama wall light – I put one of these in a downstairs cloakroom to give an extra ‘lift’ to a rather dull space. Also, the Trailing Blossom wall light which a client loves in his tranquil meditating space, saying it reminds him of the Tree of Life.
Many of Porta Romana’s lights can be upgraded to be suitable for bathrooms which is a boon to interior designers and lighting designers and again, these can be produced in a range of different finishes.
New designs are constantly being launched which adds a freshness to the range, and each item is given a stamp of authenticity.
Looking at the wonderful selection of furniture and lighting from Porta Roman is rather like going to a fabulous restaurant. You know each course will be sublime but it’s so tantalisingly hard to make that final choice
Beautiful Porcelain Lighting Made in Britain
Boatswain Lighting is the creation of Jason Boatswain, working from his studio in Wiltshire with his team of craftsmen. Boatswain creates beautiful biscuit-crisp porcelain lights which add a wonderful golden light to an interior. The effect of golden light emanating through the transluscent, porcelain is soft and understated so you can go for large pieces without them crowding the space.
Boatswain lights don’t shout. They don’t need to. They are soft, beautifully proportioned and organic in their own right.
I’ve used Boatswain in coastal properties – there’s something about the natural texture that lends itself to sand, beach, light. All my clients have been really pleased with the result.
A word of caution: don’t assemble the full lights until all workmen are out of the area. In the picture above we spent quite a while carefully hanging each of the flat porcelain slabs to the large central light, after which we stood back, had a cup of tea and admired it. Two days later my client phoned to say that the painters had come with their ladder to do some ‘touching-up’. They had written off a chunk of the lower section. Boatswain were brilliant and sent replacement segments which, of course, we paid for, but it was good to know that it could easily be restored.
Beautiful in most spaces – but not if you have rumbustious children!
J Adams and Co
Beautiful British Lighting from Birmingham
J Adams and Co ticks so many boxes. Cutting edge design manufactured in a well-established factory in Birmingham using traditional techniques.
Although this lighting design and manufacturing company was only founded in 2016 the design world has seriously taken notice. All the designs are carried out by design director Will Earl, who adds a softness and elegance to a slightly industrial look.
Their lighting is robust and unique and, although their pieces have serious price tags, these are top quality light fittings designed to last.
J Adams & Co will also produce personalised versions of their range – bespoke to a certain extent.
See above for information on Bert Frank also produce wonderful lighting in the same Birmingham factory, and are similarly unique. I love them both!
Classical British 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.
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