Refurb Renovation News spoke with Emily Butterill, Owner & Lighting Designer at Glow Lighting

by Francesca

Where did your design career begin? Was lighting design always your main plan?

I am a self-taught lighting designer. Having been brought up within a family lighting business, lighting has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. It wasn’t always my main plan, I dreamt of treading the boards and went to study Music and Performing Arts at university. Unfortunately it wasn’t what I dreamed it would be. I decided to leave university and re-apply for another course the following year. As a stop gap I decided to work in the family business…. I didn’t leave until I was in my 30’s!

Learning about commercial and industrial lighting, working in all parts of the business; purchasing, production and sales really gave me an insight at a young age as to how a business was run, as well as understanding light and how it works.

How would you describe your style of design?

Traditional with a modern twist.

I love clean crisp fresh lines. Glass works beautifully with light; the two complement each other perfectly and using coloured and ribbed glass accentuates the effect.

How was the idea of Glow Lighting born?

After my father died I needed a new path. I studied a distance learning course to go back to university and was offered place at university to study midwifery. During this time I visited the Spring Fair at the NEC and had a “light bulb” moment. I was unimpressed by the lighting on show and I couldn’t believe how little were British made or tailored to the consumer. I wanted to offer clients something British and not “off the peg”.  Glow Lighting was born.

You have completed some stunning projects, which one has been your favourite?

My favourite projects, if I am honest, are always when we get to work closely with the client working together to develop an idea and turn it into their dream lighting.

One project that stands out is working with a repeat client, who had built a new master bedroom. We produced three coloured glass clusters, one for the staircase and two as bedside lights. The third pendant in the bedside clusters was hung low and switched separately to double up as a reading light. We worked on this from initial design, supply and finally installation.

From your point of view, is design an art or a science?

Tricky question, I am inclined to say that design is the science of art. Whilst designs are creative and very much an art, there always has to be an element of practicality and feasibility. Our lighting, in addition to being beautiful, achieves an important function.

Who or what inspires you and your work?

My late Father is my inspiration. He taught me all I know about business. I wish he could be around to see Glow Lighting and how we have developed.

What would be your dream project?

Building my own house and creating tailor made lighting for our own project. The build would be sure to include tall ceilings and a vast entrance hall to really allow us to produce a show stopper or two! Currently it’s a pipe dream though.

Can you take us through the design process of one of your lighting designs?

Although it sounds really exciting there is a real practical side to it. I always start with an initial idea, a shape or perhaps a material I’d like to use.

I literally get out my pencil and begin sketching my ideas, once I have something I like I break it all down into components to see if it is viable.

There are various important factors at this stage; for example: cost of materials and production, weight, safety, sustainability and maintenance.

It takes a while to get to the point where you have a marketable product.

What would be your advice to other women looking to set up their own business?

Having a background in business really does help as there are a lot of hats to wear. In the beginning not only will you will be a designer, but also sales person, accountant, purchasing manager, head of production, tea and coffee maker, and in my case wife and Mum. 

Don’t be fooled, it is hard work, mixed with long hours and lots of juggling with the family etc. however it is extremely empowering and fulfilling.

Have a clear concise idea of what you would like to do and where you would like it to go. Set yourself goals and take them step by step.

Don’t rush, it’s all about building strong foundations. Having a great product and a loyal client base is key. Make sure you know your target market and look after it. I have found that customer service is the most important strength to my business. Without our glorious customers Glow Lighting would be nothing, I am grateful to them every day and word of mouth has been a huge contributor to Glow Lighting.

Do you have any big plans in the pipeline?

We have recently launched our first table lamp and would like to increase this range. As well as developing a range of bathroom lighting – watch this space!

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