Profile: Tom Kirk
The increasingly popular lighting designer who prefers his products to take the spotlight
By Sarah Brownlee
For lighting that makes an impact but doesn’t overdo the opulence see: Tom Kirk. A glance through the lighting designer’s archive reveals an impressive array of styles from some awe-inspiring statement chandeliers through to pendants and table lights of a more modest (but still luxurious) kind. All of them exceptionally well crafted using a range of materials and processes but with a cool, contemporary aesthetic that keeps things fresh rather than frou-frou.
Kirk studied at Middlesex University and Camberwell School of Art, where he received a First Class honours in silversmithing and metalwork. A Crafts Council Setting Up Grant kick-started his studio in 1997 and although he is still hands on, his success has meant a move to outsourcing the production of the designs, although everything is manufactured in the UK.
‘The making aspect is something that I would never move away from as it is what I enjoy most about the whole design process,’ says Kirk. ‘I love the prototyping and sampling of new products – using new processes and materials. The silversmithing skills are always in the background, but these days tend to get mixed up with other techniques and production methods.’
Carefully-honed craft skills are combined with manufacturing processes to bring his work to life, as he explains: ‘We tend to use specialist factories that combine the two; for example, highly-skilled glass blowers who work in a production environment. Generally, the choice of supplier is informed by a combination of quality and capacity.’
The art of glass blowing is behind one of his latest launches, the Cintola family of glass pendants, as seen at Decorex in September. The Lightweight pendant is by contrast more of an engineered piece, made of aluminium with LEDs. A selection of products are available for immediate dispatch but Kirk is perhaps best known for his custom-made lighting creations, with particular demand for the big-impact chandeliers. ‘These tend to be the bespoke pieces and clients are happy and indeed want to be involved in the development of chandeliers that have been commissioned for a specific purpose,’ says Kirk. Some projects are more challenging than others, of course. His latest (for which he is collaborating with an interior design team) involves the re-use of blown-glass elements from chandeliers that once hung in the old Copenhagen Stock Exchange building. A London penthouse overlooking Hyde Park is about to get a stunning new lighting feature.
Bestselling products from 2012:
The Flute and Facet ranges
Lead time on orders:
Stocked items available for immediate dispatch
Bespoke work can be delivered in approximately 6-8 weeks.