LUXURYCULTURE.COM - Making Light of Design


Paul Cocksedge has risen to become one of the most promising new talents, bringing light to life with inventive appeal.

British designer Paul Cocksedge takes light to daring new levels.

At 29 years old, Paul Cocksedge has established himself as a designer of world-class distinction. Since graduating from London's Royal College of Art, he has explored the many facets of illumination to spectacular effect, from the award-winning Sapphire Light, which took the Bombay Sapphire Prize for excellence and innovation in contemporary design for its ingenius use of gin as a light source, to the use of infra red mobile phone technology to create a voyeuristic display at Trussardi's Palazzo Trussardi during last year's Salone Internazionale del Mobile, held in Milan.

Cocksedge's ascent to fame began in 2003 when he was personally invited to join prolific light artist Ingo Maurer's installation at Milan's Spazio Krizia. He has also shown at the London Design Museum and Swarovski's crystal palace. The designer recently completed a large-scale commission for London's Wellcome Trust.

Paul Cocksedge's definition of luxury:

The same as Wikipedia's

If luxury were...
An object
A glowing Swarovski Crystal

A person
The Queen

A moment
Drinking a bottle of wine from 'Sous L'Nez'

A place
I haven't found one yet, but I know where it is not: London E9

What made you choose to design lighting?
I don't think about myself as someone who designs light, I'm just searching for something interesting, whether it's a material or even a certain technology and for some reason, they just become lamps. I've done other things, such as a bicycle tire.

With some other objects you've got real restrictions, you have to consider the practical restrictions, but with lighting I feel that you can work in a very free way. I suppose once I've exhausted light my brain will move onto other things, but I have got ideas for other projects.

You've accomplished a lot since your graduation in 2002, to what do you attribute your success?
Just key people, really. First was Ron Arad, who was very important. I was so naïve at college, I had no idea what I was doing, I just absorbed everything. Some people go to college and they read the design magazines and know who people are and they just get caught up in that world and become too conscious while I just absorbed everything around me. Ron was great because he was actually doing it, so I just used to feed off his energy. He introduced me to Ingo Maurer. I graduated in 2002 and met Ingo that year and showed him a piece of work. I went back a few more times and he said, "Why don't we do a show together in Milan?" which was incredible. Then there's Joana Pinho who I met at the RCA, she studied communications. She runs the business side, she drives it, so her creativity goes into that area. It's our company, we are a good team.

What are you working on at the moment?
The Wellcome Trust. I'm working on the window display. It is an image of my arms. They are outstretched, like during a check up, as in a medical journal, but one of the arms is pointing to next door, so this is the Wellcome Trust and it's pointing to the gallery. I wanted people to drive by on the bus will wonder why that building is pointing at that building.

You don't see anything at first, but then the skin disappears revealing the arteries, anatomically correct. This is the biggest thing that we've done. It looks so simple but there's so much technology, for example, the electronic film, etc. We also had to get my arms scanned to get the veins in the right position.

Have you used this technology before?
No, I try to keep things unique, I try to tailor them to the client.

You are very unique, and come up with extremely avant-garde ideas, would you ever consider more commercial projects?
I came up with a commercial project about six months ago, so we're just getting the patent for it now. It's just such a simple idea. I remember my dad saying, "Son, I want you to design simple things." It's amazing, it just opens up a new market for lighting design and mass production. We're also launching products through two manufacturers next year, which is something I've never done before. I really like it, it's a real challenge.

What is your favorite piece of work?
I guess Crystallize for Swarovski was quite special. I had a real fight doing it too because everything just had to be so precise. There's a lot of me in that work, I worked on it for months and months.

Swarovski's Crystal Palace is quite an impressive commission, how was it?
There have been some amazing names, the best designers have worked on this project, so I was a young designer so be asked to do the commission was fantastic. I guess it almost fits into that limited edition category, because there is that creative freedom, but there is a brief, because they want people to look at the crystals and see the beauty of how it is made, so I kind of thought to myself, sometimes if you use loads of crystals, you're just not looking at them, so for me it was a fun way of designing. I told them "I need five crystals" and they said "5000?" but I just needed five. It was really funny because when the lights are off there's nothing there, so when Nadja arrived she wondered where the piece was, so I told her to come back in a few minutes. When the light was switched on it just touched the crystal and exploded with light. I think people really liked it, because it was differing from the usual.

Do you work on most of the technology?
Yeah, most of it comes from research, finding things, I like thinking. I like the internet, it's like a huge book, it's such a huge resource. I also wander the streets a lot. There's so much stuff. I just love questioning things. I think of things and think about whether it would be possible, then I just try it.

Who is impressing you at the moment?
I like Fredriksson Stallard, I like their work a lot. I also really like Julia Lohmann. I like the process, it's quite different. I like it when people are discussing their ideas and you think 'what's driving you to do it?' Some people say that they are not interested in selling, it's just something that they want to do, well that's what I do too, but then I've got another side of me that makes me want to get into production.

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