Design Date with Lucy Martin

Lucy Martin is Design Director at John Cullen Lighting. She has recently published her first book, The Lighting Bible. An essential guide to the art of lighting, it embraces the latest low energy light sources and shares the key principles of lighting design. She is a guest speaker at the Focus/11 Masterclass, Design with Confidence on Wednesday 28 September.

How did you become a lighting designer?
I did a 10 week course at KLC and it grew from there. At first I toyed with the idea of interior design, but I come from a family of architects and I was more attracted to the technical aspect of lighting.

Why is good lighting so important to interior design?
People massively undervalue the difference a well-lit and well-designed space has, not just on the way you feel about your home, but the look of the space. It’s imperative. Good lighting is often about introducing light into a space which you can’t necessarily see. It’s the magic that transforms.

What are the key principles to remember when lighting?
Know your tools. Get to grips with the new types of lighting that are about, so you can wield them with a bit of confidence. Then decide what you want to light, your focal point, and layer the light. This gives a three-dimensional feel, so you can play up the texture and colours in a scheme. Finally, think about control – if you can dim your light source you’ve created flexibility within the space.

How are the new lighting regulations going to affect the interior design industry?
People need to embrace the change. Approach lighting early on. LEDs are very useful as they’re a small light source, and great for details. I also favour IRC lamps [an infra red coated lamp] particularly in my table lamps as the light source is identical to an incandescent. The main problem with switching to low energy light sources is lack of education – there are good alternatives, people just need to know about them.

You once travelled to the North Pole. What inspired this?
I was working at the Independent newspaper on the business desk when the opportunity arose for a charity expedition there. I tried out to take part and was accepted. It was truly life-changing and the quality of light in the North Pole is like nothing else.

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