Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Decorex International 2019 – Colour and Light

Lighting displayed at Decorex International 2019 illustrated a wide range of made-to-order and bespoke pieces

Cakes and Lighting Design

Whether it’s cooking or creating a lighting design scheme – they are both forms of a recipe. Remove one element and the result can fail

How to Light Children’s Bedrooms

We all want to create beautiful bedrooms for our children but lighting will last for years. Before you know it they will be teenagers

When do I consult a Lighting Designer?


When is the best time to consult a Lighting Designer?

With so many elements of a self-build project to be taken into account it’s not unusual for the lighting design to be put to the side until the electrical contractors ask for the lighting layout. They will need this so they can quote accordingly which in turn helps to establish the budget of the whole project.  So often I’m asked to supply a lighting design scheme as a matter of urgency and although I’m happy to accommodate speedy jobs when possible it does mean that you, as the client, may not have given yourself enough time to think through the style of lighting or light fittings you would like to incorporate into the build.

So when I’m asked when is the best time to start planning the lighting I will always say that the best time is as soon as you have a definite building plan and certainly once you’ve got planning permission. Also, it’s worth bearing in mind that your lighting designer will require the following information:


It’s important for any lighting designer to know the design of a staircase as there are so many different ways that these can be lit. Does it have open treads, stringers, wood, steel, concrete?  There are so many variations and each style will call for different lighting methods.

Kitchen Design

Ideally the full kitchen plan will be available but if this is not possible it helps to know where any tall units are going to be located, if wall units are being incorporated, where the sink is sited, position of the hob and the approximate size and location of the island if there is one. Also, what type of extractor are you incorporating as often these will have integral lighting and some pieces are almost light fittings in their own right.  For example some of these extractors double up as feature lights.

Bathroom Layouts

The whole flow and symmetry of the bathroom lighting will depend on the positioning of the bathroom furniture and the style of the fittings is also important. For example the lighting around a roll top slipper bath would be very different to that of an inset panelled bath and it helps to know if the basin is a pedestal design or has an integrated unit below it or possibly a wall mounted cupboard above it.  For a wonderful range of bathroom furniture visit C P Hart for inspiration.


What type of flooring will you be having in different areas of the house? This will influence the architectural light fittings that are specified and will determine whether in-ground LED lights are to be incorporated.  For example uplights can be set into hard floors but would not work well in carpets and the reflective properties of different finishes will create various effects so it’s worth knowing in the early stages.

Furniture Layout

This doesn’t need to be set in stone but the more information you can give your lighting designer the better the effect. Approximate positions of sofas and beds will help with the layout and having an idea of where any artwork is to be placed will help to incorporate this into the lighting scheme.

For further information on our design service in Cornwall and Devon visit:

Illumina Design Service

Alternatively for our remote service throughout the UK and overseas visit

Luxplan Lighting Design


Lightyears Lights

Newest Incandescent Lamp Replacements

Pharoah pendants








News is that the European Commission has delayed the banning of the halogen version of the incandescent lamp until 2018. This may come as a surprise to consumers who were not even aware that this ban was on the cards but at least by having this delay it will mean that there is more time for technology to improve further and there should be a wider range of cost effective LED lamps on the market by then.
So I thought it would be interesting to take a look at where we have come since our comfort zone of the incandescent lamp was rocked.
*Author’s Note to purists: ‘Lamp’ or ‘Bulb’, does it matter as long as we understand?

The Classic Incandescent Light Bulb

incandescent bulb







What a blow when our trusty light source was banned. With good colour rendition, clear yet warm light tones it even had the added benefit of warming our houses in the winter. But no – that’s why it was banned! Inefficient light vs wattage and they were blamed for helping to warm our planet.
For some reason they are still available if one looks hard enough although it is nigh impossible to get your hands on a good ole fashioned 100 watt incandescent much to chagrin of many people over the age of fifty.

First of all the only alternative seemed to be the initial replacement.

The Compact Fluorescent Lamp

Compact fluorescent








Whoever said they loved these lamps? Cold colour temperature, ages to warm up and bad colour rendition made these most people’s bete noire. They were even rumoured to be bad for skin conditions and eyesight; yet it seemed we had little choice but to comply and just get on with it.
In truth the compact fluorescent has improved over the years but how many of us are ‘making do’ with the ones we bought a few years ago. After all, isn’t that the point – their longevity?
Then, blissfully, another product came onto the market.

Halogen Globe Light Bulb

Halogen light bulb







This basically looks like the incandescent bulb but if you look closely it actually harbours a very small halogen lamp inside. Slightly more energy efficient than the its predecessor but not nearly as efficient as the compact fluorescent, at least it gives an excellent light in terms of clarity and colour rendition. It is also dimmable which is a huge benefit.

Originally, when the National Trust changed all their bulbs over to energy efficient lighting, they used compact fluorescents in luminaires where the light source was hidden and these halogen versions where the light source was exposed, such as in chandeliers using candle lamps.
These are the lamps to be banned in September 2018

LED Light Bulb

Standard LED bulbs





Rather space-age in appearance there is always the doubt about direction of the light and at no time do you actually want to see this light source, especially the vibrant yellow one! Definitely not cheap and many versions are not dimmable but the quality of light is improving although we are not quite up to the equivalent of the old fashioned 100 watt incandescent.

A good online resource website for purchasing these lamps is:


Latest LED Light Bulb

LED Lamp 2






Very clear and sparkly these are the best replacement versions of the incandescent that I have seen. These were on display at the LuxLive exhibition in November and although the higher output lamps are still not dimmable we are so nearly ‘there’ in terms of a general lighting source for our homes.
Another excellent feature of some of the dimmable versions is a ‘dim’to’warm’ facility which actually changes the light to warmer tones as the lamp dims. Perfect for winter evenings.
And soon to come…

The Graphene Light Bulb

Graphene Light bulb






A new method being perfected by the University of Manchester forming a light bulb made of graphene coated LEDs which will be even more energy efficient and long lasting. It is anticipated that these will be on the open market in a matter of months at competitive rates.

And a few other fun lamps on the market:

The Squirrel Cage Lamp

Squirrel Cage lamp






This seems to have by-passed the regulations being of an industrial nature although very ‘on trend’, especially in bars and restaurants. Not energy efficient in the original version but can now be replaced with similar filament style LED versions such as:









Eco Filament lamp available from

Funky Fluorescents

Plumen compact fl bulb








These are basically twisted fluorescent lamps in weird and wonderful shapes. Energy efficient, warm white with average colour rendition but not dimmable. These are by Plumen
All in all it has been quite a journey and this is a small illustration of how nothing stands still in the lighting industry which is what makes it such an exciting field.

Claire Promo B&W web





Claire Pendarves

Design Director

Lighting at Decorex 2014

Decorex is always worth a visit and this year it certainly didn’t disappoint.  Situated back at Syon Park after a number of years, parking was a doddle and for out-of-town visitors it made for much easier travelling.  There was less emphasis on fabrics and wall coverings but a greater slant on surfaces, furniture and lighting.  Here is some of the lighting that struck a cord…

Le Deun Luminaires

Le Deun Luminaires at Decorex 2014Le Deun Luminaires at Decorex 2014
A beautiful range of lighting by this Parisian company, working entirely with LEDS.  This is where lighting crosses with artwork as some of the pieces were beautifully delicate and aesthetically pleasing as well as giving out gentle washes of light.  A favourite was the Sirius wall light shown here on the left – this would make a lovely feature on entering a hallway or in repetition in a living space.

Sophie Mallebranche

Sophie Mallebranche woven metalsDecorex 2014 by Illumina Lighting

Here decorative finishes overlap with lighting, shown here by a gentle upwash of light on the intricate woven metalwork by Sophie Mallebranch. Sophie creates beautiful industrially tailored woven metal materials which work wonderfully with washes of light or in screening that can be back lit.

Vessel Gallery

Vessel Gallery at Decorex 2014

A heavenly assortment of limited glass art works by Vessel Gallery


Calle and Mizu pendant lights by Terzani at Decorex 2014

Terzani displayed a beautiful assortment of feature pendant and hanging lights – these are perfect for stairwells and high ceilings


Stand by Ochre at Decorex displaying the magical Damselfly wall lightsCelestial Pebbles by Ochre at Decorex 2014

A little snippet of paradise at the Ochre stand with the perfect three of their Celestial Pebbles and Damselfly wall lights.  Ochre are simply heaven!

Best and Lloyd and Fromental

Decorex 2014 by Illumina Lighting - Best and LloydBest and Lloyd lamps with Fromental wall covering

Best and Lloyd have added a stunning new range of original pendant lights to their collection and combined them with an original backdrop. They also shared a stand with Fromental displaying silk wall coverings and bespoke lampshades.

CTO Lighting

Big Bulb wall light by CTO Lighting at Decorex 2014

You can always trust CTO to display original and stylish lighting and here we have some humour as well with this quirky new Big Bulb Wall Light with its added frisson of red cord and special silvered bulb creating a gentle wash on the wall behind.

Fine Art Lamps

Natural Inspirations by Fine Art Lamps at Decorex 2014Choice of crystal heads for Natural Inspirations by Fine Art Lamps

The Rebecca Scott stand was displaying a splendid display feature light by Fine Art Lamps which is part of their Natural Inspirations range.  Shown here in the clear quartz, it can also be supplied with these three other quartz or crystal attachments.  There are twenty five configurations in the range and an option of bespoke lengths and two different finishes to the metal – platinized silver leaf or gold toned silver leaf which tones perfectly with the amber coloured quartz.

A Place in the Garden

Beautiful Zinc pendant lights by A Place in the Garden

Some very stylish pendant lights at A Place in the Garden stand


Nenufar wall light by Serip at Decorex 2014

Classed as Luxury Organic Lighting the Portugese company Serip had some beautiful pieces on display.  This branch arrangement has a slightly oriental feel to it and ties in with some feature pendant lights in a similar mould.


Heathfield lamps at Decorex 2014 - Illumina Lighting

Jewel coloured glass lamps by Heathfield

Curiousa and Curiousa

Curiousa and Curiousa at Decorex 2014

Original and quirky lighting all with hand blown glass and a wonderful range of colours making each piece unique.  Some wonderful combinations but didn’t photograph well at the exhibition so these are only the simpler ones.

Bert Frank

Decorex 2014 by Illumina Lighting - Bert FrankDecorex 2014 by Illumina Lighting - Bert Frank

Sometimes a design house just gets it so right and Bert Frank seems to have that intangible edge that makes their lighting unique.  Shown here on the right is the Sheer wall light that has the added advantage of being surface wired (with plug and cord) if required.  This means it can easily be plugged into a wall near a chair for reading or even as bedside reading lights.  A perfect gift for a stylish man, or woman for that matter.

Tigermoth Lighting

Feature pendant light by Tigermoth at Decorex 2014

Tigermoth Lighting are the Queen bees of metallic chain chandeliers using glass and metal in innovative combinations.  This photo doesn’t do them justice but is a small indicator of their style – in miniature.


Ona Pendant light by KAIA Lighting at Decorex 2014

KAIA have a small but unique range of lighting, the most striking on the stand being the Ona which gives the wonderful combination of size, quality of light as well as form yet all the time it is light in weight.


Ripple light duo by Harlequin at Decorex 2014

If you love the effect of light reflecting off rippling water, this combination of fittings by Harlequin is a way of mimicking this sensation.  The larger globe rotates and the smaller globe houses a directional light source.  The light shines through the slightly irregular hand-blown larger globe which, whilst it is rotating, creates dappled, rippling light effects on the wall behind.  You may not love the price as much as you love the effect!


Villiers wall lights at Decorex 2014

Villiers is always the height of luxury and their stand lived up to their reputation at Decorex this year.  Particularly lovely were the triple Epernay wall lights flanking this Omega mirror.

Decorex 2014 was definitely a show worth attending.

LEDs – Benefits and Pitfalls

Ever since the incandescent lamp was technically banned in 2009 and strict building regulations have been enforced the lighting industry has been tripping over its heels to produce the most energy efficient and cost effective lighting with each manufacturer fighting to get their foot in the door…

This intense need for viable replacements of a light source that we have been happy with for over 100 years has meant that the market is now flooded with a vast array of LEDs, so much so that the average consumer can be completely flummoxed by the choice.

Most electricians now are accustomed to fitting dedicated LEDs and most are more than happy to pull out the latest ‘answer to all your problems’ in the form of their favourite LED downlight. However, before blithely committing to a house full of your electrician’s recommended downlights it’s important to assess exactly what you are getting so you can make an informed choice.

Colour Temperature

LED’s come in a range of colour temperatures and it is important to verify the Kelvins in order to assess the warmth. Many manufacturers will produce LED’s at approximately 4000°K as standard and will refer to an LED fitting as ‘Warm White’ when it is 3000°K (more like tungsten halogen). This version of Warm White is fine for accent lighting, e.g. small uplighters, washing down onto steps and even in contemporary kitchens and bathrooms where a crisper cooler light can work well; however, for downlights in areas such as living rooms and bedrooms going for temperatures around 2700°K is much warmer and more akin to the light you will get from the old fashioned incandescent lamp. While some contemporary properties could get away with the standard ‘Warm White’ throughout the house I would recommend that when incorporating LEDs in a classical property the warmer white is chosen otherwise the effect can be harsh and not in keeping with the interior.

I tend to use 2700°K inside and 3000°K for gardens and landscapes.

Colour Binning

This is a process that the manufacturer goes through when categorising the colour temperatures of the LEDs. The diodes can vary slightly in their colour temperature, especially from batch to batch, with the best quality LEDs varying to a lesser extent. Reputable manufacturers will follow a stringent process of ‘binning’ – in other words grouping all the LEDs together so that the consumer can be sure that all their light fittings will match in terms light colour temperature. This is why it is important to buy from a quality manufacturer as the slightest variation at the time of installation will only increase over the years – as will your frustration!

Colour Rendering Index

The Colour Rendering Index (CRI) indicates how the colours of an object are reproduced when illuminated by a light source. The sun gives a CRI of 100 and naturally our eyes are adapted to this so in order to perceive a true colour, the closer we get to this figure the better the quality of colour. Details on standard LED’s will often omit this important piece of information but generally over 80 CRI is good. When lighting artwork however, a CRI of over 90 is going to give the best effect and we will normally specify 95+ CRI for this purpose.


How many people have put in LED’s throughout their homes only to realise that they can’t dim them! From any lighting designer’s point of view the one most vital element you need to create the right ambience is dimming. Don’t believe that LED’s won’t dim – they will if you get the right product. However, you need to check that the dimming facility on the driver (transformer) will ‘speak’ to the dimmer that you select. It’s not complicated; it just needs to be verified at the time of specifying.

Where now?

Are LEDs the answer to our prayers? This remains to be seen. Not enough time has passed yet with the products in the genuine market place to establish whether they are all they are promised to be. It is one thing to test a product in laboratory and yet another to incorporate it into a living environment with all the foibles of modern living. How can you be sure that what you are purchasing is up to the job? Do your research and go for reputable manufacturers, just as you would if you were purchasing a car or another major piece of technology. These lights should be with you for a good number of years and it is best to avoid the frustration and expense of replacing them before they have reached their perceived life span.

If you don’t want to go to the expense of high quality dedicated LED fittings there are some excellent retro fit LED lamps now available and combining these with appropriate fittings can be an effective solution. Again, go for products from good quality manufacturers – check colour, dimming, life and CRI if appropriate and remember the adage “buy cheap, pay twice”!