John Bullock Lighting Design
John Bullock Lighting Design
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Learning to love - Decoration


Lighting Design and the Art of Decoration

Maybe this will turn into a mini-series of things that we never thought we'd think about; we'll see how we go.

And perhaps its because I share my life with an artist and maker who's managed to activate my Decoration Gene, but I can't help but feel that Designers often leave something at the front door when it comes to the finer points of lighting design. We can probably blame all of this on the Monster of Minimal that still haunts the forest, scaring anyone who evens imagines a lampshade with a fringe on it.

But I've never been a great fan of the mass-market decorative lighting fixture; there's definitely too much of the 'mass' about the market - and we understand why, of course. This isn't about commissioning bespoke pieces; this is about selling lots and lots of boxes of the same thing, so a degree of homogeneity and dullness is to be expected.

What has always excited me about decoration is the idea that its not something that has be taken out of a box. I enjoy exploring the fuzzy space between Art and Design and look for opportunities to meld the two. One of the fun, if not truly subversive, things to do with a piece of Minimal Modernism is to consider that white panel of light as an empty canvas - and to bring Art into space  using the light as the vehicle to achieve it. The first time I ever did this should probably have had me drummed out of the profession by the Design Star Chamber, because I took a clutch of Arne Jacobsen's iconic  fixtures from Louis Poulsen . . . and had other iconic (Art Deco) patterns etched onto them.
Now, Jacobsen is a beacon of the Modernist movement and the Discus (now re-named AJ EKLIPTA. What is this, IKEA??) is a fine example of the functionaility of the movement and is, I guess, a response to the busy-ness of all that Art Deco stuff that came before it. But can our future ever truly divorce itself from our past? In that moment, I felt that I saw the shadow of a past design epoch looking out at me from Jacobsen's functional glass disc.
Which brings me to my latest little adventure . . .

And that's the way that its been. My most recent foray into the territory of Art in Design has come from a desire to add Decoration into the lighting design of a Healthcare environment. The idea of clean white-n'wipe-down glass surfaces is a natural for this community, but I can't help feeling that Good Art trumps Good Design in the Healthy Spirit stakes. So I suggested that - once again - those clean white panels might have more to offer the building and its guests.
I approached a local glass artist GIllian McCormick and talked to her about creating images of the natural world onto a shallow glass dome (I was looking at another perennial in my design toolbox, the RZB 'Flat Basic' to provide good, elegant, service illumination). Gillian's response was gorgeous - just what I was hoping for.

Unfortunately, the HealthCare professionals probably haven't read the same Health Through Art books as me, so the detail never made it to the finished project. But Gillian's piece has made it as far as my hallway, where it joins a pair of pheasant watercolours (and a mis-placed thermostat - sheesh!) in our 'Bird Gallery.
Paintings by my partner in life; Annabel Wilson.

Whether all this makes me a vandal or an Art Warrior is for others to judge. But I prefer to see myself somewhere on the spectrum between Charles Voysey and Banksy.























To learn more about my lighting design philosophy and how I work, please click HERE!

RIBA CPD in 2015

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John Bullock Lighting Design
4 Miller Way

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