Today we had the pleasure to speak to Donna Gridley, Head of Creative at Northern Lights. Together, we explored the creative process of this incredible supplier, and what lighting trends are set to take over the next year.
Hi, welcome to Portaire! We're so happy to have you here to discuss all things lighting trends. Could you tell us a bit about Northern Lights?
We are not just another lighting supplier; we have a story to tell. We are creators, visionaries, and craftspeople. Our team is made up of truly passionate people with an eye for detail, and we champion artisanal craftsmanship and British-made products from our 38,000 sq ft flagship facility in Derbyshire.
Blending engineering excellence, luxury materials & finishes, and exquisite artisan techniques are what makes us the UK’s leading manufacturer of decorative lighting. Our passion and expertise have enabled us to create some of the most iconic luxury lighting on a global scale, with our fittings located in a variety of stunning private residences, superyachts, hotel chains, restaurants and cruise ships. We realise and elevate our customers’ creative visions through 35 years of lighting design expertise. We’re fortunate enough to constantly collaborate with the industry’s elite interior designers on bespoke and made-to-order lighting pieces that make their design concepts truly come to life.
How did your journey as an interior design supplier start?
We started from humble beginnings as a tight-knit family business established in Derbyshire in 1987, with a small team of skilled artisans who designed and hand-made various products from stained glass. We saw there was a growing demand for bespoke artisan lighting and instantly knew we had the expertise and vision to service the demand across multiple industries. Within just a few short years, the company had transformed into one of the UK’s leading lighting manufacturers, working with an impressive global portfolio of hospitality brands, as well as developing luxury lighting for private residences (including members of a royal family in the Middle East!).
Your range of lighting products and bespoke projects is incredible. How would you describe your design philosophy?
“Your vision, our expertise” is how we approach working with our customers to achieve such a wildly varying array of lighting solutions. Our design philosophy remains the same regardless of whether we’re creating a two-metre statement chandelier, or a sleek, understated wall light. It starts with understanding the interaction between light, space, and experience, and using lighting to enhance the aesthetics, functionality, and mood of an interior environment.
Lighting design plays a crucial role in shaping the visual appeal and atmosphere of a space. It can enhance architectural features, create focal points, and evoke emotions. Aesthetic considerations include the colour temperature of light, the direction and intensity of light, and the interplay of light and shadow. A well-designed lighting scheme should complement the overall design concept and enhance the desired mood or ambiance. When developing our made-to-order Signature Collection, the designs have a versatile, timeless feel that offer longevity in a scheme. By blending texture, shape and form with luxury design principles we’re able create pieces that are equally both stylish and functional and that stand the test of time.
Your position is totally unique, as it puts you on the forefront of lighting trends on a global scale. What trends do you think are on the rise?
1. Portable lighting
Portable lighting is challenging the conventional ways in which spaces are typically illuminated, offering a unique solution that meets the growing demands in for flexible and adaptable spaces & experiences. It facilitates a move beyond the traditional constraints of socket and electrical point locations, allowing interior designers to light unconventional and even awkward spaces with ease.
The term brutalism derives from the French word brut, meaning “raw” and describes an architectural style that emerged in the 1950s where designs projected an air of strength and solidity. Brutalist furniture, decor and sculptures are gaining popularity with designers through their ability to lend unique, eccentric, human notes to interior spaces.
3. Sustainable wood
Despite the rise of the biophilic movement, mother nature’s inspiration has never been a passing trend. It’s always been there, ebbing and flowing through designers and clients who have a real connection with nature. With our planet under threat, sustainable practices and materials have never been so important. The demand for sustainably sourced materials such as wood is growing, as people are paying more attention to raw materials and localised supply chains to reduce their carbon footprint.
It sounds like an incredible year for lights! Let's do a quick round of questions to wrap up... Pendants, chandeliers or sconces for 2023?
Pendants & chandeliers will always have a place in interior design schemes. Their ability to be scaled up or down and be designed to complement any manner of interior styles give them a timeless appeal. More and more we are seeing individual pendants being used and grouped together in different arrangements to create custom installations according to the space, height and overall design intent. This is a beautifully simple yet creative way to build interest with shapes, shadow and reflections in any space.
What material combinations will rule the coming months?
Mirrored polished brass, dark chocolate and caramel wood tones, reactive glazes and smoked glass will be used to add earthy, rich tones to complement interiors. The use of natural stones will still endure. Natural stones are typically considered a sustainable material because of their durability and adaptability, resulting in unique, organic pieces that stand the test of time and seldom need to be replaced.
Brass, gold or chrome for 2023?
Chrome is most often used across hospitality schemes where the brief calls for simple, modern designs. However, brass offers a truly timeless visual appeal and can be finished using a plethora of techniques and colours to tailor pieces to each scheme. We definitely have a love affair with the versatility of brass and can’t see this ever going out of style.
Transparent or opaque glass?
Opaque, textured and reeded glass offers a warmer and better light diffusion for an inviting ambience that’s soft and all-encompassing. Transparent glass can be softened by incorporating coloured glass elements, which can warm the space and lend itself to a softer light diffusion whilst reflecting the overall colour palette choice.
Big or small lights?
The environment is important to consider here. The size of the space, desired ambience and any key architectural / interior features to be highlighted are key in determining which lighting types and sizes to use. Layering of lighting is important in every scheme. Small, functional lighting such as wall, reading and portable lights provide an essential layer of targeted lighting that’s designed to make the space usable and practical. Whilst statement chandeliers, pendant clusters and large table lamps draw the eye and help to tell the narrative of the design concept and the individuality of the interior.
Thank you so much for chatting and playing lighting roulette with us! Where can interior designers find more about your brand?
A curated selection of our made-to-order Signature Collection can be found on Portaire. To view our full product range, discover more about our bespoke lighting case studies, and find lighting inspiration for your next project, visit the Northern Lights website.