In part four of our “Design Tips” series, our MD Fiona Ascroft offers up some valuable advice for designers, based on the questions we get asked most often.

How can I minimise the technical stuff?

It will really help you to be ahead in recording and finding out about fitting details of your lamp.

The more you can get together in advance the simpler the specifying process will be for your bespoke lamp shades.

Take a photo of the bare lamp with a tape measure next to it. Keep a photo of the lamp with its existing shade on and record the measurements for reference.

We often get calls from designers at the beginning of a project – discussing the custom requirements we can help hone down the detail required and therefore simplify the specifying process at an early stage. For example, you can decide at this stage whether you want to use fixed fittings or duplex fittings that offer more flexibility on installing your lamp shades.

Lots of designers find it useful, if they have a big project or just want to refresh their lamp shade portfolio, to get A Shade Above to meet their team with samples, photos and fabrics.

We would be happy to join you on site.

In part three of our “Design Tips” series, our MD Fiona Ascroft offers up some valuable advice for designers, based on the questions we get asked most often.

What about choosing styles and fabrics?

When choosing fabrics, think about how they will look when lit. Hold the fabric and its lining in front of a bulb (preferably the one you are going to use). Play with the fabric lining or PVC colour – the warmer the lining you use the warmer the glow – and remember it will change the ‘on’ look of the light!

A quick check of the fabric with the A Shade Above team will avoid any issues along the way. We can always suggest or help you source alternatives if there is a problem. There is no need to be daunted by the plethora of different styles and variation possible in designing a handmade lamp shade.

You can be adventurous by playing with the detail, for example with the trim or the lining – it is an opportunity to try something new and create something a little different or just to create another level of detail such to a clean, timeless piece.

Have fun with mixing up styles! A traditional style pleated shade in a contemporary shape (for example a box-pleated drum shape in an optic white silk) can be really striking and original.

In part two of our “Design Tips” series, our MD Fiona Ascroft offers up some valuable advice for designers, based on the questions we get asked most often.

Are there any rules we should be following?

Don’t worry too much about the ‘rules’ of getting the right shape or size for your lampshade.

I would suggest roughly sketching out your base and shade to scale to get a sense of size. If you get a chance, try out other lamp shades on the lamp or take reference from the existing shade – it’s easier then to visualise extra inches up or down.

You don’t have to be reliant on your choice of lamp base. With bespoke shade making you can vary things up by designing a more eye-catching and intricate lamp shade to sit on a very simple base.

Also, play with the diameter of your shade! If you have less space for example you can make your shade narrower and increase the height such as in the Sanders Hotel, Copenhagen. Or for an area with limited height like an alcove, go wider and shorter.

A useful technical thing to remember is that the height of the shade in relation to the lamp base can make a real difference. If a shade looks too big, try sitting it higher on your lamp base and vice versa.

Here in part one, our MD Fiona Ascroft offers some valuable advice for designers based on the questions A Shade Above get asked most often.

What should I be thinking about when planning the lamp shades?

Consider the purpose of the light in your space. Is the priority of your shade to bring texture, warmth, colour, softness to the space? Or is it to bring extra light to a dark space? How do you want to tie together the shades in the space?

Mixing and matching lamp shade styles, techniques and fabrics in a scheme can work really well.

Often using a common theme such as colour, choice of fabric, texture, trimmings, style, or shape can enhance this.

In The Academicians Room at The Royal Academy (below) Martin Brudnizki designed lamp shades in a variety of different shapes and styles, all in cream-gold colourways.

Is there anything specific design-wise your client might want such as diffusers to hide bulb glare? Consider bespoke pendant or wall lamp shades to bring diffused light, shape and warmth to the space.

The ‘Gatsby Suite’ at London Design Week was inspired by all things Art Deco and Katharine Pooley designed some very special lampshades with art deco pleats, beautiful shapes and delicate passementerie. We met with Katharine to talk about Art Deco and designing lampshades:

A Shade Above have really enjoyed working with you on this Great Gatsby theme.  How much of an impact did the lighting have on the space?

The design for ‘The Gatsby Suite’ was  about creating a mood as much as an interior. I wanted to transport guests to another time, 1920’s Long Island, and in particular into the evocative and atmospheric world created for Gatsby & Daisy to inhabit by F Scott Fitzgerald.  Lighting was a very important consideration as I wanted a slightly theatrical, darker space with pools of soft light to illuminate key pieces of furniture and the scattering of Art Deco accessories and antiques throughout.

Talking about the lampshades, what did you most enjoy about designing the lampshades?

The lampshades were a key addition to the space as I wanted very soft low level light to balance out the magnificent central crystal antique chandelier. I really enjoyed picking the perfect fabrics from Turnell & Gigon for the lamp shades, they were super delicate, with a  mixture of  pleated chiffons and silks with soft iridescent fabric linings for a defused glow. The lampshades reminded me of 1920’s fashions and the vertical rushe-ing of flapper style dresses in particular, feminine delicate and  very glamorous.

In terms of lampshades, what would you say defines an “Art Deco” style?

There is an opulence to Art Deco style lampshades, a lot of ruched fabric is used and it is of the highest quality to allow a degree of opacity. The clean lines of deco are still embraced but their is a warmth and richness to the style as with detailing in other areas.

How do you think this revival of “Art Deco” might influence lampshade design as a trend over the next few years?  And how about trends within your studio?

The tactile and glamorous feel of the Art Deco style lampshades reminded me that with the correct fabric choices this style of lampshade can add warmth and interest in an unfussy style.  I think this will be especially useful for bedrooms and dressing rooms where soft and flattering light works so well. I will certainly be encouraging my designers to embrace richer lampshade styles for more contemporary projects.

A Shade Above lampshades as featured in the Gatsby Suite at London Design Week 2019 in collaboration with Katharine Pooley and Turnell & Gigon. Beautiful Art Deco inspired shades in honan silk with delicate pleats and striking colours.

Katharine Pooley and Turnell & Gigon created a ‘Great Gatsby’ inspired installation at London Design Week 2019 and specified lampshades with bespoke art deco pleats, beautiful shapes and delicate passementerie.

The daisy-shaped gold silk shades have a timeless quality to them and, delicately gathered, they shed a beautiful light enhancing the elegant glass lamp stands by Guinevere.

The black silk shades are layered with ‘V-shaped’ pleats and trimmed with a delicate fringe and braid – understated but detailed.

In our next Talking Shades we chat with Katharine Pooley about her design intention and ask about her thoughts on luminosity, detail and shape and how lighting complemented The Gatsby Suite…

We met with Martin Brudnizki (MBDS) to find out his philosophy on lampshades and and how he uses bespoke lampshades in interior lighting design.

What is the MBDS philosophy on lighting?

Lighting is an integral part of any interior scheme; from encouraging the act of relaxation to enhancing the original qualities of a space. At MBDS lighting is always at the forefront of our minds, it can make or break a project! We like to mix high level lighting, including chandeliers, pendants and wall lights, with low level lighting such as table and floor lamps. The culmination creates ambience and a sense of intimacy.

How important is the impact lampshades have on space?

Lampshades are as important as the lamps themselves; at MBDS they are very much part of a full FF&E design scheme. Adding pleated detailing and trims provide an additional layer to our projects.

Do you have a specific style of focus when designing lampshades?

Styles tend to vary depending on the project. We try to mix up different shapes, sizes and styles within a project to help create a feeling that each piece has been collected over time rather than installed all at once. We like eclectic pieces which can help tell a story.

How do you use lampshades in your work?

We generally use lampshades as a way of introducing an additional layer of detail to our schemes. For low level lighting, we try to ensure there is a table or floor lamp close to each seating group, so there is a low intimate lighting level throughout the space. We also try to ensure these are not an afterthought, as you are usually at eye level with the fittings. Finally, adding trims, pleats and / or wrapping finials can add another level of luxury.

What has been on of your most challenging or successful projects and why?

Each project has its challenges! But when it comes to lighting and lampshades, the projects which feature lots of antiques can be tricky. Each lamp will need a unique fitting – not one is the same! With any project we must always consider how each fitting will sit and interact with the rest of the fittings.

What are you working on now?

We’re currently working on lots of projects, including one which features lots of tassels and trims so it’s been fun playing around with samples, finding which finishes will work best and with what lampshade!

How do you know when lampshades are a success?

We aim to create interiors that feel timeless and as though they have been there forever. For us, if the lampshades effortlessly blend into their surroundings then we are happy!

The impact of lampshades on space and why Helen Green uses bespoke lampshades with carefully selected fabrics to compliment the overall interior design.

Is there a specific ‘Helen Green’ philosophy on lighting?

Lighting is always one of the most important considerations in Helen Green Design projects and using a combination of lighting solutions is crucial to creating an atmosphere that complements the interior design of the space; ambient, accent and task lighting are all used to highlight individual design details and to add character to the space. Lighting designs are chosen to complement the rest of the scheme; be it a metallic frame or a fabric shade, each element is carefully considered to create a layered space rich in colour and texture.

How important is the impact of lampshades on space?

A lampshade should be sympathetic to the rest of the scheme which is why we look for bespoke options which use our carefully selected fabrics. It also enables us to proportion the shades to the correct size to suit complement the space.

Do you have a specific style or focus in designing lampshades?

Lampshades shouldn’t make a statement in a space although they are a good way to use an accent colour, be it on the main fabric or the trim.

A Shade Above recently worked with Polly Sturgess (POD Interior Style) to produce a series of bespoke, handmade lampshades for two luxury motor yachts; Lady Britt and Baton Rouge. We met with Polly to get her view on lampshades and lighting.

Does Redman Whitely Dixon have a philosophy on lighting?

We have learnt a great deal about the subtlety and delicacy needed in lighting. The shades can add an element of detail and playfulness.

How important is the impact of lampshades within a space?

It adds the all important finishing touch and can be a source of interest and detail that makes our interior sing.

Do you have a specific style or focus when designing lampshades?

We love to chat and consult A Shade Above and glean knowledge in how best to create the very best look for our shades. Their experience is invaluable. All of our projects are so different from each other that all shades are piece by piece.

What has been one of your most challenging projects and why?

A Motorboat with a ceiling mounted amoebic shade arrangement was wonderfully detailed and crafted, the results spoke for themselves and A Shade Above delivered a great product.

How do you know when a lampshade is a success?

People notice them, and they do the interior justice.