Rousseau Design, Master Of Modern Illumination

by Becky Hoh in Bespoke stories

Ben Rousseau has made a name for himself as the cool lighting designer on the lighting designer block. Think lots of neon, LEDs, a penchant for industrial spaces and a great merging of disciplines where lighting becomes an object of art.

Set up in 2002, Chiswick based Rousseau Design splits its time between a limited edition line of illuminated furniture pieces, such as the modern classic Bubble Chair and creating lighting schemes and custom installations for residential and commercial clients. The latter includes chandeliers for ASOS’s HQ, New Look’s flagship store, the Ice Hotel in Sweden and they are just finishing a hospitality box for Doyen sports at the O2 who are publicists for some of the UK’s biggest sporting stars.


‘It’s a lot of phone calls, to suppliers, clients, contractors and much scribbling of ideas. Days go too fast!’

Up until recently everything has been made to order, the bespoke ethos being something that sits well with Rousseau’s way of working, although not without its challenges.

‘The first step and usually the hardest is to extract what the client actually wants,’ remarks Rousseau. ‘With lighting it is usually even harder for someone to imagine what your ideas will be like so it also takes a little while and a few props to get ideas across. But that is also part of the fun, the moment when they truly understand what some of these crazy ideas will become.’

But now in their 14th year the studio has recently developed a commercial range of products and are just about to launch a collection LED based domestic lighting pieces and a range of illuminated artworks. Rousseau is also currently guest artistic director at the Goldfinger Factory, an upcycling production and learning hub for London’s most deprived residents, selling home furnishings and fit-outs for trendsetting homes and businesses….So it’s busy busy busy!

‘It’s a lot of phone calls, to suppliers, clients, contractors and much scribbling of ideas. Days go too fast!’ he laughs. ‘But often lots of site visits and workshop or production meetings so I travel by motorbike to ensure I can get around as quick as possible. But nothing we ever do can be classed as boring! Lighting for me is the thing that can really make a projects striking.’

To show you just how striking his lighting design can be, Ben talks us through his a 3500 square foot luxury basement project in West London, which the client has affectionately termed ‘his own personal Bat Cave’. “With the ‘Bat Cave’, the client first approached me for some of my illuminated furniture pieces, when we met up we just clicked. He was a lover of art and design and really interested in the process and people behind the pieces, he was building his own private dream space for his private collection of art and design pieces he could share with is friends and family.

Collaborating with urban artist INSA we complimented our signature Bubble Chair with matching coffered ceiling illuminated by dual layers of LED’s which change colour in synchronisation. A laser projection in the centre of the coffer beams an entrancing pattern onto the chocolate leather floor. All of the lighting is controlled using an iPad interface utilising a Rako Digital System.

The entrance to the snug area is encircled by cool white LED lighting, and you are greeted by a matching illuminated Electrowerkz table. The rear of the banquette seating in fitted with LED’s in order to illuminate the Verner Panton Bubble Tiles. Mirrored walls add to the drama by creating infinite reflections trapped in the mass of curves and highlights. A central Iris light draws focus to the centre of the rear wall between two Verner Panton pendants.

Twelve high powered lasers reflect around a rectangular formation to create the illusion of a protective forcefield cage around the client’s stunning Aston Martin DB4.

The one-of-a-kind American Black Walnut Pool Table is completed with a chamfered base mimicking the ceiling above. Stainless steel legs rest within layers of conical rings of clear acrylic and illuminated cushion which breaks through the outer surface which gives the impression a beam of light slicing through the table.

I was really able to push the boundaries of technology and imagination as the client and I really pushed each other forward in terms of design and artistic license. For us the aim was to excite and to deliver something the client would enjoy and we feel we most certainly achieved that! I’ve been to a number of parties there, where the client serves drinks behind his custom illuminated bar to some of West London’s coolest cats and you can see how much he is enjoying being the host with the most.

Rousseau Design –

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