“The most rewarding part of designing and making a lighting installation lies in translating an idea that I’ve created with a client from paper into a three-dimensional reality,” says British textile and product designer Naomi Paul. Her one-of-a-kind pendant lamps (example in second picture) and wall-mounted lights are all hand-crocheted in cotton or wool – functional objets d’art that are sought after by private clients and can be found in Firmdale hotels and Bloomberg offices.
Each custom commission (from £7,000) starts with a meeting – either at Paul’s east London studio or by phone and email – to give the designer “a sense of the aesthetic qualities and functional requirements a client is after”. At the drawing stage, Paul might introduce elements from her existing collections – dangling orbs with names such as Monika, Hanna and Sonne – alongside historical lighting examples and architectural references.
Requests range from simple disc-like shades made of Egyptian cotton, which is double-knitted in Lancashire into Paul’s signature cord, to enormous Glück pendants (first picture) – directional lighting that works beautifully over a dining table. Paul’s palette includes everything from glacier white to sherbet orange to dusky pink, with black and white zigzag combinations a particularly graphic strength. New colourways are available for commissioned pieces, and Paul delights in fresh discoveries. Her latest work incorporates Shetland and British Aran wools – fibres that are sustainable, hypoallergenic and naturally flame retardant. “The wool has fantastic acoustic dampening and calming qualities, and it has a robust, chunky feel as well,” says Paul.
Once shapes, sizes, materials and colours have been selected, projects typically take between six weeks and three months to complete, depending on the level of complexity. Each piece is hand-crocheted by one person to ensure consistency, then later steamed and stretched around a frame (third picture) before being hung in the studio to achieve the ideal length – ready to add a subtly elegant yet dramatic touch to any room, whether as a solo piece or clustered in tiers.