Curiousa & Curiousa, Made To Measure Colourful Hand Blown Glass Lighting

by Becky Hoh in Bespoke stories

Esther Patterson, the founder of Curiousa & Curiousa designs hand-blown, bespoke glass and bone china lighting.

She rather triumphantly straddles the world of craft, handmade, vintage and retro but, through exciting shapes and surprising colours, has escaped the trappings of twee and tired and has created her own very appealing brand of contemporary but nostalgic.

She was trained as a graphic designer in Derby, before establishing a design agency called Orange Box Design in 1996 but had always dabbled in craft from a young age.

‘I loved the designing and the making process,’ says Patterson on her background, ‘this led me to apply for the Decorative Arts course at Nottingham Trent University in 2009. I was in my element as I was able to explore mediums like ceramics, printing, glass, wood and textiles which ultimately led me to establish Curiousa & Curiousa. My first studio was a 1972 caravan parked on my drive! Then I moved to a small old blacksmiths studio and launched my initial range in 2010 during.’

‘I like to explore new ideas and feel that by working on different bespoke projects each time I learn more and more about the craft and am able to develop my own ideas further.’

Based in Derbyshire in the Midlands, the traditionally handblown glass shade range come in beautiful boiled sweet colours, miniature and cute or large and striking, pendant,and chandelier and further options for the table or wall. This wide choice of 15 colours, five shapes and four sizes size, providing shades from 130mm to 330mm in diameter, is complimented with a selected range of finishes, including vintage tassels, fittings, flexes and bulbs. With lights now retailing through Liberty’s London, designs used in Harvey Nicols Fifth Floor Cafe, the Haywood Gallery and the Royal Albert Hall and this year gaining a nomination for the British Design Awards, Esther continues to go from strength to strength. The practice began with just her and calling in the skills of local craftsmen men and women of the community but there is now two full time staff and three part time, dealing with studio management, the wiring of the lights and electrical installation, packing and marketing.

As stated the existing ranges can be modified for a certain project and the team are always developing new pieces and bespoke solutions for interior designers, architectural practices and private individuals, as well as completely custom made commissions.

‘Each light is blown to order,’ says Patterson, as it would be impossible to stock such a large choice. ‘All the pieces are free-blown, so they are all very slightly different – I want people to feel they have a truly individual light piece. For bigger commissions we can modify the pendant chandeliers or do something completely new and different. I like to explore new ideas and feel that by working on different bespoke projects each time I learn more and more about the craft and am able to develop my own ideas further. For instance, at the moment I’m working on a 12 metre stairwell glass droplet chandelier lit with fibre optic stands.’

Another example of their large scale, bespoke offerings is an impressive 9m high stairwell piece in Sackville Place, a prestigious new development in Sevenoaks. The piece features 32 individual Glass Pendants with contrasting flex, and a bespoke ceiling rose – all designed, produced and installed using local skills and craftspeople and UK suppliers. One of her favourite jobs to date has been creating a variation on her Glass Pendant range in bright candy colours for Jamie Oliver’s TV Series, 15 Minute Meals.

‘I was able to visit the set as they were building it, I was like an excited kid!,’ Patterson laughs. ‘I thought the style of his tv kitchen was fresh, open and vibrant which reflected his way of cooking and it was great that my lights were part of it. I since tried to replicate his cooking…not quite as successfully!’

Her lemon yellow, acid drop pendant lights have also been used in his recently opened Union Jacks restaurant in Chiswick, all commissions that began with her work being chosen for his first flagship site in Holborn.

So what will 2014 bring for Curiousa & Curiousa? So far Patterson is being inspired by mixing materials to create new collections, particularly wood and ceramics with the glass. ‘And as always colour is a signature look for me – glass looks so stunning in simple shapes with pure colours. But it’s not to say that we can’t do subtle either, it’s up to my customer. That’s the great thing about working on bespoke pieces: it’s never predictable and keeps me on my toes! We really enjoy making happy customers and we have never been so busy. We’re enjoying every minute and hope 2014 will bring even more interest.’

Curiousa & Curiousa  – curiousaandcuriousa.co.uk


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