John Bullock Lighting Design
John Bullock Lighting Design
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One of our details is missing


Let's talk about what happens when new technology means that we can do Less with More – and not in a good way.

The most exciting part of any new project must be the moment that you can open the lid in the corner of the room marked ‘creative thinking’ and let out the little ideas monkeys to get some fresh air. And if you don’t get a buzz out of that, why on earth are you doing this job?

You’ve already said to your client “Stop thinking about light fittings. It’s not about the light fittings. It’s all about what you want the light to do.” Easy said, my friends because, and permit me to let you into a little secret – of course it’s about the light fittings!

Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it’s not about any specific light fitting, but it most certainly will be about what light fittings do – and if a light fitting can’t do it for you, then you need to think again about ‘ what you want the lighting to do’.

It’s come into sharp focus for me because I’ve floated an idea in front of a client and, happy to say, it got a good reception. Now all I have to do is build the detail of it, and that’s where it’s starting to get interesting. The essence of the idea doesn’t call for much; all I need is an array of suspended fluorescent tubes. After all, can there be anything more simple than a bare fluorescent tube hanging in space?

There are a few technical issues to overcome. The installation will be in a wet space and there is a risk of someone small hoiking a beach ball (cricket ball??) against the fixture. So two things need to happen: I need an IP-rated, mechanically protected fluorescent tube. In all of my years I have never needed to think twice about where that might come from – until now.

Before I go any further, let me say that I know how to resolve this; I know who to talk to and it will all be wonderful. So there’s no need for anyone to come riding to the rescue of the poor, uninformed, lighting designer. But thank you for your concern.

The PROBLEM is what’s happened to the mainstream solution. The standard product has, of course, been taken over by the LED. The inefficient fluorescent tube that sprayed its light in all directions is now a super-efficient, focused, tube of downlighting; its BRIGHTER; its EFFICIENT; it DOESN’T DO WHAT I WANT ANY MORE!

There are times when the new tech. provides a seamless upgrade of where we used to be – but not always. Sometimes, the old ways are what’s needed and no one ever expected that to happen to a bare fluorescent tube.


RIBA CPD in 2015

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John Bullock Lighting Design
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