Susan Quirke, Creative And Artful Lighting Design

by Becky Hoh in Bespoke stories

The work of lighting designer Susan Quirke can be subtle or striking but never goes un-noticed, becoming a thing of beauty within every scheme she is working on.

‘Our work is generally quite dramatic and more light art than standard technical office style lighting,’ describes former interior designer Quirke, ‘we generally work on spaces where the lighting has as big an impact as the interior.’

Lighting designers and consultants like Quirke concentrate purely on creating the perfect lighting scheme within a design project, having the vision and knowledge to specify just the right products to get just the right effect within a brief. Quirke’s company Quirke McNamara Consultancy was set up in 1990 in West London and followed on as a natural progression of being involved in other aspects of the creation of high end residential projects.

‘I came from a project management and interior design background and through designing interiors I realised how important lighting is and how much I love it. So now I combine both interior and lighting design and also work on separate lighting commissions for other people.’

Her work is as varied as it is arresting, having put together schemes for Shoreditch warehouse conversions, a bar and restaurant in Fulham, trendy Brighton hotels, a luxury penthouse in Vietnam, ski chalets and even a lap dancing club!

Most requests include integrating lighting into bespoke furniture pieces, light art wall pieces, highlighting art pieces and feature ceilings, as well as water wall lighting and external lighting. The 4 strong team also design bespoke lighting objects for the projects such as fibre-optic chandeliers stairs features, LED lighting pieces, star fibre-optic ceilings, neon signs and neon artworks – in fact, Quirke has actually just brought out her own range of neon lighting, having been asked to design so many pieces for projects.

‘I always go for a completely bespoke approach, I like to create something unique for each client. From custom made cinema love seats with inset lighting or bespoke lit TV units, down to crystal chandeliers. As interior and lighting designers we tend to work on bespoke furniture integrating lighting, as lighting schemes look much more complete when you can incorporate lighting into the interior in more than just the ceiling. I like to work with each client to create exactly what they want.’

We asked Susan to talk us through one of her favourite residential lighting schemes in an amazing completely white house where all the colour had to come from the feature lighting. Quirke also designed the interior for the project as well.

 PROJECT: Ice White House

Products used: 

LED, Fibre-Optic, cold cathode, neon and external garden lights

The brief:

It is a large scale 6 bedroom house all with ensuites as well as basement and attic. The client wanted 90% of the house to have white finishes in resin and Corian so all the colour had to come from the lighting as he wanted a very social space where he could entertain in the evenings, so the lighting was very much a night scheme. We had to create moods and ambience through the lighting as the key feature. The client requested something quite dramatic and unique overall. He wanted a Miami style feel for the space in the evening with very strong lighting.

The Scheme:

Designing both the interior and the lighting meant I could have a really cohesive approach and designed the lighting to highlight  all the key features from the bespoke wine room, to the Corian kitchen and water wall, which I inset with LED lighting. Alongside in-depth Lutron and Crestron control systems, I created many bespoke furniture pieces integrated with lighting, which can be seen in places such as our custom made cinema room seating, which are inset with blue LED lighting at low level, which also vibrate depending on what is happening on the screen! We loved putting together a bespoke twinkle star ceiling above too. The garden was set with jewel like colourful LED lights so that the interior and exterior complement each other, as there are large frameless glass doors looking into the garden. The swimming pool is also illuminated. We created a bespoke design for a dramatic feature fibre-optic chandelier hung with crystals, made to highlight the helical stairs all the way to the ground floor. In order to emphasise the Corian feature bath, I inset lights around the base to shine up onto the white finish, with the colours changing into the evening to alter the mood.

Bespoke neon art and colour changing lights warm the space up and they are all on a control system which I programmed with different scenes as the evening goes into night. I also illuminated the fish-tank for the evening as a feature; having to learn all about what the fish needed was quite interesting! With all this drama is was quite hard for the clients to visualise the concept but they trusted me to achieve it and now they absolutely love it, but it was a heart stopping moment waiting for their reaction to the installation!

Quirke McNamara Consultancy –

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