Interview: How Sally Storey’s new book can make you a better designer

InterviewFeatures Fri 3rd Dec 2021 by Emma Hedges

Interview: How Sally Storey’s new book can make you a better designer

Interview: How Sally Storey’s new book can make you a better designer

Feature by Emma Hedges | Fri 3rd Dec 2021

Editor of KBBFocus Emma has been writing about design and interiors for over 25 years. A former editor of Essential Kitchen & Bathroom Business magazine, her work has been published in a wide variety of leading trade and consumer titles. More

Sally Storey, founding director of Lighting Design International and creative director of John Cullen Lighting, is one of the world’s leading lighting experts. Here she talks to Emma Hedges about her latest book, Inspired by Light, and reveals why she’s on a mission to empower designers with new skills.

The subject of lighting has become complicated. Technical advancements such as the arrival of LEDs on the scene, and the advent of lighting systems that can be operated by smartphone, have taken it onto a whole new level in terms of sophistication. But lighting expert Sally Storey believes that it doesn’t have to be rocket science, and it’s this that has led her to put together her latest book, Inspired by Light: A Design Guide to Transforming the Home. Published by RIBA, it’s primarily aimed at design professionals, but Storey wants to enable anyone who’s interested, including consumers, to have the knowledge and confidence to be able to use lighting to improve their surroundings.

“I wanted to make people realise what a great tool lighting is, and show the reality of what it can do,” she explains. The book, she says, can be used as a look book of ideas, but also a practical guide demystifying lighting. “I’m trying to speak to lots of different people so they can pick out the effects they really like.”

It’s essentially divided into three parts. Kicking off with the basics, it looks at how lighting can enhance and define spaces, and explores in depth the concept of colour temperature, and the importance of dimmers. It then walks the reader through different areas in the home, with a chapter dedicated to kitchens and one to bathrooms, to explain what can be achieved and where. The final section presents a number of stunning case studies, and all the way through rich, glossy photography brings Storey’s ideas to life. “I think designers are very visual – that’s why I needed so many pictures,” she says.

Everywhere she goes, in both public places and friends’ houses, she is constantly coming up against a lack of understanding about the key elements of lighting schemes – ambient, task and accent – and her view is that getting it right matters. “When I go into a space where the lighting hasn’t been given much thought it makes me feel uncomfortable – I went into a restaurant the other day where the colour was so dull, flat and cold you didn’t want to linger. That’s because the LEDs selected provided all those feelings. If you walk into the same space that is well lit, it’s invigorating and lively.”

While lighting helps homeowners to make the most of their surroundings – “just by putting lighting over a kitchen island, or a dining table, or artwork, you can create a different mood” – she says it also enables their spaces to work harder. “A bathroom can be a get-up-and-go place in the morning but change to a spa in the evening, but to do that you need to create a different level of light, so then suddenly the bathroom can work as two different spaces,” she explains. 

Added to that, the latest lighting systems on the market enabling users to set up different ‘scenes’ offer huge advantages to homeowners, and opportunities to have greater control over their surroundings. 

She hopes her book will convey the power of lighting to retailers and designers, along with its flexibility, and also give them useful tools and plenty of ideas that they can recycle. “I’ve done other books that have been helpful but this is designed to really empower people about what lighting can do,” she says.

Inspired by Light: A Design Guide to Transforming the Home by Sally Storey is available from RIBA Books. 
For a demonstration of different lighting products and effects, visit John Cullen Lighting Studio, at 561-563 Kings Road, London SW6 2EB. Open Monday-Friday, 9.30am-5.30pm. Saturday by appointment.

Tags: interview, features, sally storey, lighting design, john cullen lighting

In other news