For Autumn and Winter Zoe Darlington has created a new range of lamps. The lamp bases are made from Sapele hardwood, hand turned in the UK and the lampshades made from Lancashire wool. Below Zoe discusses the process of making and designing lamps and her firelit workspace...
Tell us about your craft…
I design and make lamps that combine traditional materials and techniques with a bold British wit. I’m inspired by old heirlooms and enjoy making work using traditional methods – pencils, chalks, metres of hand stitching and no glues. The end product runs full circle with the inspiration and can live on through generations. My lamp bases are designed by me and hand turned by a man with five generations of turning in the family. I love the history and the story involved with craft.
It’s vital to me that every single lamp I sell is designed and made by me personally. I studied Fine Art, a fundamentally private and solo practise, and I think this very personal attachment to the things I make comes from this.
I create one off commissions for private homes and companies, and occasionally collaborate with brands that celebrate British creativity and craft.
What first drew you to making lamps?
After buying a house, I studied Soft Furnishing and Upholstery with a mind to learn a new skill and make some beautiful and individual things for my home. Making lamps is a part of the course and once I’d made my first, I knew I’d accidentally stumbled across something I loved doing. I love the scale of the work, the intricacies involved in the hand stitching and the creativity of the design. It seemed to pull together the very best bits of my previous experience in Fine Art and Fashion.
Describe your workspace...
After having two children in two years, I moved from my studio in the custard factory in a creative area of Birmingham to have a home studio so I could maximise the time I have available to work. It is challenging separating home and work and I miss the buzz of working in a hub of studios, but I love being around my children whilst they grow from tiny dots to beautiful girls. And I can make use of every single minute that’s available to me. My studio is a large room at the front of the house, with huge sash windows that light streams through and a wood burner to keep cosy during winter.
Do you work better in chaos or order?
Much better in order but I am amongst the messiest people I know. Mess comes naturally to me. I frustrate myself with my inability to keep things in order.
Silence or sound?
Sound. I have 6 music on for about 14 hours a day. It’s so integral to my daily life that when the station was under threat of closure, I felt there was a fog over me.
Another maker you would like to meet?
More of a designer than a maker but Bethan Gray. Her work is fine and beautiful, focused on materials and craftsmanship and unapologetically commercial. There can be a snobbery around commercialism in the design world but commercialism is not a dirty word if there has been no compromise.
Shop Zoe Darlington's lamps, unique to TOAST, here
Hero image - Hand Turned Wooden Lamp with Wool Shade in Turquoise