In Good Company: Chris Turner, founder, CTO Lighting

By Matt Balmer
June 27, 2018

Chris Turner originally trained as an engineer, working at Arup where he gained valuable expertise in design and manufacturing. He joined with his wife Clare to form CTO Lighting, taking advantage of her background in fashion to add valuable retail knowledge and experience to the company. Together they recognised a demand for premium contemporary lighting using more luxurious materials and made in the UK. This has led to them working on major projects around the world with leading design practices. They are celebrating their 20th year in business in 2018.

June 2018

When was the company founded? It was founded in 1997 by myself and my wife, Clare.

How many staff? We are a team of 15.

Where is it based? We have a showroom and London HQ in Islington, with a factory in Birmingham.

What is your latest project of note? We’re just completing The Glebe, working with the team at Collett-Zarzycki. It is a great project and we are designing a lot of bespoke lights, ranging from alabaster backlit wall lights to five meter high versions of our Lunar pendant. We like the challenge of creating tailor-made lighting solutions in tandem with interior designers and seeing their vision come to fruition through our designs.

What is your best-selling product, and how much of it do you sell? The Nimbus pendant has been our best seller for the past couple of years. We sell at least one per week. It is a pendant with universal appeal – our clients love its artisanal nature – with its hand-made glass and handcrafted solid brass construction. Needless to say the glass craftsman is constantly working at full pelt.

I’ve just discovered… Alcohol-free beer! On the design front, Vancouver: on a recent road trip there I discovered an array of architectural gems along the beachfront and around the city.

Who inspires me… Clare, my wife, as she keeps me going.

I’ve always been a fan of… Paul Smith. He manages to have the right mix of creativity and freshness whilst maintaining his saleability.

My highlight of the last 12 months… Celebrating 20 years in business. We recently held a party to mark the occasion and It was a chance to reflect on where we started and how we got to be one of the UK’s leading modern luxury lighting companies. Clare and I both love the creative design side of the business, but it has been the journey with all the people that has made it so special. It is what gives us the drive to keep going forward. It was an opportunity, too, to thank all the people who got us to this point – from our employees to suppliers, clients, and friends.

My next design trip is to… I’ve just come back from a US and Canada road trip visiting our dealers in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, LA, Toronto, and Vancouver. Apart from New York, they were all new destinations to me – but Vancouver made the biggest impression. It’s so clean and l didn’t understand what the ‘west coast vibe‘ was, but now I do. Inspirationally, I’ve got our family holiday in Italy in July. I find sometimes it’s not the place that provides inspiration, but the getting away from everything and then coming back refreshed that allows my creativity to come out. After, I’m off to India for a proper culture break, spending time in the madness of Delhi and then heading into the countryside.