“There’s a special kind of story behind each of these pieces,” says Sophie Miller, co-owner of vintage, re-engineered lighting specialist Skinflint. “Rescued” from manufacturing and commercial buildings that are being renovated or removed, the lights tell tales from the industrial era, both in the UK and further afield. Sophie and her husband Chris, an ex-lighting designer, have sourced lamps from a library in Versailles (they were rediscovered behind a false ceiling when the building was being demolished), and reappropriated street lights from the British seaside town of Eastbourne.
Of their current stock, the statement three-light suspension pendants (from £816) are reworked 1950s traffic lights from the US, the 1960s prismatic glass and aluminium industrial lighting (£384) was reclaimed from the chemistry department of the University of Birmingham, and large green vitreous enamel reflector shades (£552) were salvaged from a 1930s chemical factory warehouse in Lancashire. All, says Sophie, were built to last and last. “I think people imagine that we find a light, rewire it, and that’s it. But there’s a lot more to it than that – it’s a big job and each lamp is different.” The lights are dismantled, blasted, polished and then put back together again by a team of up to 15 specialist out-workers in Skinflint’s Cornish environs.
Particularly popular at the moment are the Opaline opaque glass ceiling lamps (£384) from the former Czechoslovakia, as well as clear glass pendants, such as the fluted Stiletto pendant (£270) dating from the 1920s. These pieces are sent as far afield as Australia and the US, or find their way into design schemes from a Soho craft beer bar to a private home in Santorini. Skinflint has also struck up a collaboration with Heal’s, and its finds are featured in the London stores and online. Its own online home, however, is a simple, easy to navigate showcase for its constantly changing stock of almost 200 different lamps – updated with new designs every Friday.