In conversation with Nulty Bespoke

By Elspeth Pridham
May 28, 2020

Alison Smith, creative management at Nulty Bespoke, tells us about her company in general and the benefit of commissioning bespoke lighting.

How long has Nulty Bespoke been in business and where are you based?
Nulty Bespoke was launched in 2016 to respond to a growing need for customised luminaires produced by talented craftspeople – something our founder Paul felt was missing in the industry. He wanted to fill the artisan gap between expensive artists and industrial engineers. The Nulty Bespoke studio is based in Waterloo, but as we adopt a very hands-on approach, the team spends a lot of time meeting with clients for face-to-face and carrying out site visits during the installation stage.

What is your personal design background?
I graduated from NTU with a BA Hons in Decorative Arts and then worked as a Design Technology and Art Technician at a secondary school in Wiltshire. My first career move was a role at Haberdashery where I combined my love for materials and process, conceptualising compositions and overseeing production and installation. I left Haberdashery to take on my current role at Nulty Bespoke, where I focus on both the decorative and technical side of luxury lighting. As Nulty Bespoke specialises in producing custom made luminaires, but has access to the expertise of Nulty’s architectural lighting practice, I have learnt a lot about the technical side of lighting, which is invaluable when designing bespoke luminaires for clients.

Do you work across both residential and commercial projects?
Our work spans residential and commercial because we’re not limited to any one style, technique or material, meaning we can completely adapt our approach each time. We’ve developed our own community of talented artists and manufacturers, so this allows us to create anything from a showstopping mouth-blown glass chandelier for a residential staircase, living space or dining room, through to a precision designed pendant light for a commercial office space.

Can you describe your business to me?
Nulty Bespoke create bespoke luminaires using our knowledge of architectural lighting to ensure the final result works with the client’s overall lighting design intention for that space. Our goal is always to create an original work of art or customised piece that is personal to the client and their interior scheme. We oversee every part of the process including design, construction and installation.

What do customers need to know?
One thing we always have to be mindful of when accepting commissions is that custom product takes time to perfect. Time to understand the client and their brief, time for concept exploration, time to research materials and test light sources, all before we get to the all-important protype and manufacturing stage. The expertise that goes into each stage of the process is fundamental to the final result.

What does bespoke lighting bring to an interior?
The beauty of bespoke lighting is that each piece has its own unique story. We often take inspiration from a client’s surroundings to draw out the details, architectural features and materials that influence their environment, so every bespoke piece works sympathetically with its surroundings and has its own design narrative. We pride ourselves on being able to draw out the essence of a client’s style and personality into our designs, whilst retaining an underlying style that is unique to Nulty Bespoke.

Which craftspeople do you involve in the production of your pieces?
Our community of craftspeople include specialists in different materials such as glass blowing, ceramics and wood turning. We rely heavily on them to deliver uncompromising attention to detail.

Is craft enjoying a revival in Britain at the moment?
Craft is incredibly important right now, especially as we all start to question the provenance of the products that we bring into our homes and be more mindful about the materials that have been used throughout the manufacturing process. It’s important to us that we champion traditional skills to keep them alive and also nurture young designers looking to forge a career in the craft industry.

As we all have a little more time on our hands. Is now a good opportunity for interior designers to plan and commission bespoke pieces?
I feel passionate that interior designers should look to bespoke pieces to elevate their schemes. Not only do bespoke commissions bring a sense of character and depth to a space, they also perform better because the person designing it has taken the time to get the intention of light right first. Only by balancing the technical and creative sides of the process, will you get a beautiful luminaire that works within the space and stands out as something truly individual.