Dan Heap, Lighting Designer

by Becky Hoh in Bespoke stories

Some lighting scheme designers are all about the all singing all dancing wow-factor ‘look at me’ lighting, this can be extremely impressive but British lighting consultant Dan Heap’s approach is a little different. He calls it ‘seamless integration’ and this is very much what it is, slick, minimal, clean-lined and classy.

Dan Heap the company was set up in 2005 after re-locating to the South of France after a seven year period in London, although 90% of their work remains in the UK.  Heap studied product design and did an Msc in Lighting at the Bartlett, before gaining experience working for Isometrix as a junior designer gaining great experience working on such projects as Jigsaw Bond St and Versace Bond St.  ‘It was a great mix of lighting design and bespoke product design, and was a fantastic first job,’ says Heap. ‘I went on to work for a year at Into Lighting which gave me a real flavor of the commercial end of the business, from here I left and joined Douglas James and Jon Warren and set up lighting consultant and designers Minds Eye and later Whitegoods.’

Quite a list. And now, with Dan Heap, he is part of the ultimate dream team, he and his product designer wife, Kate. She also has a background of buying and merchandising, from first samples, through testing, photoshoots, promotion and pricing.

‘Her skills are pivotal to what we do commercially,’ says Heap. ‘I deal with the front end of client interaction and bring the projects back to the office. Once a new brief lands we work together to develop a design approach, Kate then develops the visual elements whilst I develop the technical side of things. If you looked at our degree folios you’d see the same split of skills!’

‘We have a range of standard products on the LED side of things, but also develop custom fittings where required.’

They work with architects, interior designers and directly with private clients and have created many amazing schemes for commercial and residential projects. These include a conversion of a former organ works into a 6 Bedroom House in North London,  an 175m2 building which was converted into a contemporary family residence with Scape Architects, a striking Islington Mews House and retail spaces on New Bond Street.

The other side of what they do is specialist product development for LED fittings, as many of their clients are excited by the possibilities of LED but find it a challenge as the technology changes monthly.

‘We have a range of standard products on the LED side of things, but also develop custom fittings where required,’ Heap explains. ‘The lighting design side of the business is constantly evolving, we have a palette of techniques we have used over the years that grows each month. We approach each project as a blank page and spend 40-50% of the design time at concept stage to ‘stitch’ the lighting into the fabric of the building.’

They have just launched a new LED product that delivers a thin trim-less linear slot of light with a hidden LED source that can be set in walls or ceilings. It can be made to any length so offers designers an endless glowing shadow gap detail. ‘We are very excited about the future of this product as the possibilities are endless. It’s a new direction for us, delivering products that allow a flavour of a bespoke scheme straight out of the box.’

Heap says the most ‘interesting’ commissions tend to be those where they have been approached as no solution can be found, laughing that while they aren’t always the most profitable, they lead to new ideas and other schemes. ‘They are also the creative ‘diet’ of the office and the challenge of solving the impossible is really what drives us.’

To give us a taster of the Dan Heap style and problem solving approach, we asked to take a look at a recent project in London.  ‘This was a residential client who was looking for a flexible yet hidden lighting solution for a display wall of art objects.

We began by reviewing the rejected solutions put forward to the client by the architect over the previous year, we then developed 2 new approaches and showed these first through sketches and then through a series of full scale mock ups.  We used Cree emitters set within a tiny gimbal (ring mounted in a stirrup), these were set onto a 2mm jack plug and could then be plugged in to sockets the size you have on an iPhone set flush within the joinery.

The aim was to develop the tiniest and brightest adjustable fitting to meet the brief, the design has evolved many times and is still being finalized as we speak but we’re 95% of the way there.  The final fittings were 20mm high by 16mm wide, if they were any smaller they couldn’t be assembled. We’re very happy with the result. We can’t make them any smaller or more flexible so I think he has a great solution.’

Dan Heap – www.danheap.com

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