14 Sep Creating One Off Lamps – An Interview With Alexander Joseph’s Managing Director
To celebrate the successful launch of our latest one-off cordless lamp, Storm, we interviewed Alexander Joseph’s managing director, Mark Robinson, about the process behind making unique lighting pieces.
What made you decide to create one off lamps?
Our primary customers are interior designers, yacht builders or luxury residential developers. It’s a bit of a cliché but we saw a gap in the market as nobody seemed to be offering a truly bespoke service to these design centric customers. As an artisan business producing hand made products, our methods lend themselves well to creating one-of-a kind pieces. We knew we tap into this niche sector as our every process to make our lamps is in house and under our control.
What makes a one-off lamp different to the permanent collection?
Although made to order, our permanent collections allow our customers to include our lamps in their designs, which they can share with their clients, or place repeat orders knowing exactly what to expect when the lamp arrives. They require no design input from the designer, they simply find a product suitable for their design, then include it.
A one-off piece is a collaboration between the designer and our team, it is much more personal. Normally the decision to commission a bespoke piece is as a result of needing something very specific, or the client insists on having lamps that are unique to them or their property. We also make one-off pieces ourselves, generally these are to demonstrate new techniques or to use as a centre piece at a trade show. Often these are sold as a result of being seen at an event.
What are the steps to making a one-off lamp?
Commissions often start with a sketch, whether produced by our customer or our own designers. This is quickly followed by a discussion about what materials the piece will be made from, colours used and textures. Normally a 3D CAD model is then produced, materials control samples sighed off before the build begins. As the lamp moves through our workshops we record and save every element of the design and materials used. A bespoke design deserves a bespoke service, a good example of this is recently a homeowner damaged their lamp during a move. The glass body and polished chrome base were scratched. We were able to replace both elements with identical components at a fraction of the cost associated with replacing the lamp.
How long does it take to create a one-off lamp?
This depends greatly on the materials to be used. Normally the lead time for a commission piece is 12-16 weeks. However, we have made lamps using precious metals such as 24ct gold, platinum, sterling silver and even jewels, these generally take around 20 weeks.
Do you have designers, or do you design the lamps yourself?
We do have a small design team who create new collections and design our one-off pieces for shows. We also collaborate with designers who want to create something spectacular to promote their business. Commission pieces are more often created by our clients.
Where does the inspiration come from when designing new pieces?
The short answer to this is everywhere and anywhere. We’ve designed pieces inspired by snow drifts, car interiors, autumn leaves and even oil draining from a machine. Often, shape or form is where the design process starts. Sometimes faithfully encapsulating the muse into the design is the most difficult task.