Creating Bespoke Lighting

by theartofbespoke in Bespoke stories

Good lighting has a huge effect on a room – so sometimes it’s worth having it made.

Whereas a fireplace or painting was once the focal point of a room, these days it’s as often the lighting that draws the eye. Because whether you choose an elaborate chandelier or neon letter light, how you light your room can really make an impact. One firm that knows this is Phillips & Wood, a bespoke lighting company set up by interior designer Joanna Wood and decorative antiques dealer John Phillips

‘We work for most of the big London interior designers, like Louise Bradley and Caroline Paterson,’ says Dominic Phillips, John’s son and the firm’s creative head. Indeed, its lanterns and art deco-style wall lights now hang in some of London’s flashiest addresses. As Phillips says, the company’s work looks best ‘in high-end residential settings’, partly because the quality is second to none. ‘Everything is made from scratch to order in the UK,’ he says. Having recently bought premises in Brentford, the company now has its own factories. ‘The vast majority of works are done here,’ says Phillips. ‘We buy certain elements of glass from European countries, but we desperately avoid buying from China, India or any of those cheap, mass-produced countries.’

‘Lighting has a huge effect on how the room looks, and this is made absolutely for the room in question.’

When it comes to commissioning a piece, Phillips says: ‘Very often clients know what they want. They might come to us with images from magazines or design books, give us a size and then we design from there. Or often they’ll come with a vague concept. We’ll quote and, if we get the job, the first thing we do is a full technical drawing. We prefer to do our own drawings anyway, as some of the components may need to be manufactured by outside suppliers, such as laser cutting or CAD [computer-aided design].’

The next step is to create a 3D image. ‘It’s a realistic rendering,’ says Phillips. ‘It’s not quite CGI, but it’s pretty good. The client will then make any changes or sign it off. Then, once the product’s complete, we’ll arrange a delivery date and installation.’ As with any job, there are challenges. ‘These tend to be the big chandeliers, because of the weight loads,’ he says. ‘Very often you have to compromise on design because the building is restricted by weight.’

Bespoke lighting is never going to be a budget option, because of the quality and craftsmanship involved. And yet it can offer better value than some off-the-shelf brands. ‘We were asked to make something in the style of a very famous, established company,’ says Phillips. ‘We looked at it and thought, “This is terrible.” And yet I think they were charging about £2,500 per wall light. We realised we can make something using better materials – something that’s better all round – for less than half the price. We can start from scratch and still beat them on price.’

The other obvious benefit is that you’re getting something that’s tailored to your needs. ‘It’s entirely made for purpose,’ says Phillips. ‘You can decide exactly how much light you want it to give out, and where you want to direct that light. Lighting has a huge effect on how the room looks, and this is made absolutely for the room in question.’

With this in mind, it’s no wonder that the demand for bespoke products is increasing, and it’s smaller firms like Phillips & Wood that are benefiting. ‘Some of the bigger brands have reached a stage where there are no real craftsmen making decisions in the company, and cost cutting and profits become the over-riding factors,’ he says. ‘They use clever marketing to keep demand high while lowering the costs and quality of the product to keep making huge profits. I think we’re part of a new wave of crafts companies who are putting pressure on those bigger companies.’

And more power to them, we say.

Phillips and Wood –

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