Cornwall-based Eleanor Bell is not only an accomplished designer but also an electrician who combines a degree in contemporary crafts with certificates in electrical inspection to forge her eponymous lighting design practice. She creates impressive end-to-end lighting schemes for houses and gardens, as well as one-off bespoke pieces (from £2,000).
“Lots of people come to me with an object they want to make into a light,” says Bell, who was recently approached by a landscape architect with “an incredible piece of wood from a railway sleeper” and an idea to turn it into a light over his dining-room table. First, LED strips were used to highlight the texture of the wood, which had been used as a cutting block and was covered with saw marks. “Then I added drop-down porcelain lamps positioned at different heights. It’s sculptural but also very practical – and I love the upcycling aspect; this bit of wood is now in its third incarnation.”
Bell is often introduced to clients via their architects. “I chat to them by phone or Skype to find out what they want to do, and then visit the project if we are both on the same page. I work very practically – I show clients lots of samples and colours of lights, and discuss the effect we want to make.”
Another bespoke example she calls the Crane light. “The client was renovating a warehouse and presented me with a wonky piece of metal he wanted to do something with.” Bell welded the material into the arm of a surprisingly elegant wall-mounted light, so “part of the original building lives on”.