Unveiled at the 2018 Milan Design Week, Lee Broom‘s new lighting collection, called “Observatory,” is as dreamy and luxurious as we’ve come to expect from the British design brand, while showcasing the designer’s maturation and skills. With signature clean lines, juxtaposing materials and an overall opulent but elegant vibe, the celestial-inspired collection is sculptural and striking. We previewed the lighting and spoke with Broom ahead of Milan Design Week.
What was your inspiration for creating your new collections?
I have been working on many different products over the past two years, including furniture and accessories. As we started to think about pulling a collection together I noticed that the strongest pieces were lighting, so I decided to dedicate this show exclusively to lighting. One of the key elements I wanted to address with this collection was the actual light source and how I could create timeless pieces with (what can often be) limiting LED technology. So the majority of the light sources in this collection have been designed and produced in-house.
In terms of the look and feel, when I design products, I tend to create from an emotional place initially, and this is why the collection has a celestial quality to it. I spent a weekend in the country around 18 months ago, and it was a very clear night and we decided to spend the evening star gazing. I didn’t consciously decide to then use this as the theme for the collection, but I do believe it had a subconscious effect on me because I began to see stellar-inspired references within the products I was creating. The reflections and refractions, the silhouette, the materials and lenses all reminded me of the solar system in a very subtle way. So I decided to expand on this, hence all the pieces are named after terms used in astronomy.
Circles and rods have been consistent themes in your work, yet these seem more sophisticated. How has your relationship with these forms evolved?
Having started my career focusing on ornamentation I decided I wanted to explore simpler shapes a few years ago. As we have continued this theme, the shapes and forms have become simpler and one of the reasons for this is the challenges you face in product development when trying to produce something clean and seamless. It’s very difficult and I like the challenge. I also feel that using very simple shapes such as circles and straight lines give a product a sense of classicism which is important for me when creating contemporary pieces, mixing cutting edge with the classic.
It’s clear, 11 years in, that your work continues to be more subtle and refined. How has your experience driven these results?
I’ve always hated the idea of standing still as a designer, not investigating new ways to design or exploring new aesthetics and new materials. I guess this stems from my background in fashion where you are expected to develop season after season, whilst retaining an overarching house style. So I guess I am feeling a more minimal aesthetic right now.
We love that these pieces can stand alone but can also be grouped to create larger, unique pieces customized for people and places. How would you use these works in your home?
It was a strong intention of mine to create a collection which could be adapted by the end user. I like the idea that one of my products could take on a whole other meaning at the hands of an interior decorator or architect. I see so many opportunities to house these pieces. Orion for instance can look great simply hanging vertically either side of a bed. A large horizontal installation above a dining table or a vertical cascade of lights in a stairwell would have a completely different effect but equally as beautiful. I am creating a new closet in my home so plan to use Orion to hang some of my special pieces from. I am excited to see where all of this goes.
Sketches courtesy of Lee Broom, all other images courtesy of Arthur Woodcroft