Interior Design | The Bespokesperson

The designer who helps his clients see the light

Using light to create moods is the speciality of this designer-maker

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The designer who helps his clients see the light

December 03 2011
Nicole Swengley

Even if you’ve never considered integrating lighting and furniture, you may find Ben Rousseau’s enthusiasm infectious. “I get excited about using light in any situation but particularly when it’s combined with furniture because the results can look sensational,” he says.

Rousseau, who founded his London design and manufacturing studio in 2003, was originally inspired by the special effects in sci-fi films. “I realised that clever lighting combined with specialist finishes gives a very modern feel to interiors and can be a real mood-changer,” he says, citing the dramatic effects created in one homeowner’s living room by installing an illuminated bar/shelving unit (second picture) and room-wide, illuminated sideboard (similar projects from around £20,000). “Light gleams through cracks in the rustic wood panelling – it’s a simple idea, yet looks spectacular,” says Rousseau.

Just as dramatic is his illuminated, flock pattern-covered Bubble chair – originally made for a nightclub – and subsequently ordered for private residences (first picture, from £3,950). Some clients prefer quieter designs, though. One requested kitchen cabinetry with subtle, under-counter lighting that makes the Corian worktops appear to float (around £40,000), while the owner of a Victorian house brightened his living room with a long step-shelf, fitted with LED lights, that runs below a fireplace (about £10,000 including wall-mounted cupboards).

Rousseau’s size-specific Elektrowerkz tables in black American walnut are fitted with tiny LED lights that make their edges glow (coffee table, £1,450; bedside table, £950; dining table, £2,950) – a trick repeated with wall-mounted mirrors in various shapes (from £299). And he has even created an illuminated chess set (£2,000) with an etched glass playing surface and LED-fitted timber frame. “I don’t use lights for their own sake but because they add so much more – texture, shadows, pattern – and make the finishes really come alive.”