NappyValleyNet - Design & Build Guide 2017

We were recently featured in the NappyValleyNet - Design & Build Guide 2017.

Best of Houzz 2017

We are delighted to be awarded 'Best of Houzz 2017' in the category of Customer Service. Customer Service honours are based on several factors, including the number and quality of client reviews a professional received in 2016.

We are very grateful to Houzz for recognising us and for our lovely clients who have given such good feedback.  We've enjoyed working with you all.  Thank you. 

“We’re so pleased to award Best of Houzz 2017 to this incredible group of talented and customer-focused professionals, including Sian Baxter Lighting Design,” said Andrew Small, Managing Director of Houzz UK and Ireland. “Each of these businesses was singled out for recognition by our community of homeowners and design enthusiasts for helping to turn their home improvement dreams into reality.”

Winner of Best Lighting Scheme in The International Design and Architecture Awards 2015

We are extremely pleased to announce that we have won the Best Lighting Scheme in the Design et Al International Design and Architecture Awards 2015.

The results were announced at the Hurlingham Club last Friday night at a very glitzy black tie event. Designers and architects attended from all over the world.

We would like to thank everyone who kindly voted for us in these awards.

Our winning lighting scheme was designed by our founder and design director, Sian Baxter.


Shortlisted for International Design Awards

We are delighted to announce that Sian Baxter Lighting Design has been shortlisted in the International Product Design Awards for the best lighting scheme. Four companies in total have been shortlisted for this particular category.   

For further details of our scheme please click on the image below and scroll down to the lighting scheme section.

Unlike other awards the winner within each category is decided by the public. Voting starts today, 25th August, and closes on 22nd September 2015. If you like our scheme please vote for us.


Sian Baxter Lighting Design goes Stateside

This year, we can say we are a truly international lighting design consultancy, having taken on two major residential projects in Miami.  We often work in Europe, but this is the first time we've been commissioned to work in the USA.

The two detached, sea front properties are situated in Panama City Beach and Miami Beach and overlook the fast developing city of Miami.  They are both in excess of 5000 square feet but have very distinct styles.

The house at Panama City Beach has a hint of Dutch colonial style about it and is being refurbished in a more traditional and eclectic fashion to reflect this.  We were commissioned to design the lighting scheme for the spacious interior and to specify the architectural fittings.

The second property in North Venetian Way, Miami Beach is a highly contemporary villa with clean lines and lots of floor to ceiling glass.  For this property we designed the lighting scheme for all areas - internal and external - and again specified the architectural fittings.  Our brief was to create a lighting scheme to reflect the style of the property, to optimize the sea views, to allow for art to be displayed on most of the walls and to strikingly but subtly enhance the front of the house, the pool, spa and jetty outside.

One of the reasons the Florida-based designer and architect selected Sian Baxter Lighting Design to work on these projects is because, here in the UK, we have a better knowledge of, and experience in working with energy efficient lights.  The fact that we were located over 4000 miles away didn’t cause a problem and disappointingly perhaps we didn’t even need to visit either property.


Launch of Designed by Light

We are very excited to announce the launch of Designed by Light, a company that creates individual contemporary decorative light fittings.

The initial range comprises intricately detailed handcrafted pendants, providing striking and atmospheric lighting effects.    

Sian Baxter explains the concept behind her new venture: 

'Designed by Light was inspired by the experience and knowledge I’ve acquired after nearly 15 years in lighting design, dedicated to creating the best lighting schemes for my clients.  I wanted to offer a collection of individual light fittings that stand out from the crowd and can be customized to clients’ needs. I feel it's important that the fittings should not only be beautiful objects when unlit but also create wonderful light effects. All too often I see fittings that look good but don’t produce the right type of light.  I've put together an very experienced and dynamic team to design and manufacture these fittings and am very much looking forward to expanding our range in 2015.'

Sian Baxter Lighting Design remains an independent lighting design consultancy, providing clients with impartial advice on the most appropriate fittings to use in their lighting schemes, sourcing from suppliers across the UK and Europe.  Designed by Light simply offers clients more choice.

Ban on MR16 bulbs - what's the problem?

There has been quite a bit of hysteria about the proposed ban of the low voltage MR16 bulbs (or lamps as the industry calls them) from 2013. But as a lighting designer I’m left wondering why!  

Firstly, the draft EU legislation proposes to ban only the least efficient MR16 lamps from September 2013. The better performing versions eg. with ifrared coating (IRC versions) will not be banned until 2016.

These IRC lamps use about 30% less energy than standard lamps by reflecting the waste heat back to the lamp filament. This means the heat remains within the lamp so that less energy is used to maintain the nominal operating temperature.  The cost, at about £3 or £4, is not prohibitive either.

Secondly, the LED retrofit lamp market continues to develop rapidly.  By 2016 I expect this market to be considerably more mature.  There are already a number of LED retrofit lamps available today (although the light output still doesn't match that of the 50w MR16 lamps) and this year alone will see a huge number of new lamps being launched.  At the moment they are considerably more expensive than low voltage versions but these prices will inevitably come down.

The cost of energy is rising and is expected to continue to rise.  If you need to replace 35w or 50w MR16 lamps now, my advice at the moment is to buy IRC lamps with the view to replacing them with LED retrofit lamps in the future.

The best year yet!

Despite the gloomy economic environment, I’m so pleased to be able to say that this year has been the best year for Sian Baxter Lighting Design since the business was launched.  I’d like to think this reflects a growing reputation and not just an increasing appreciation that lighting is a fundamental element of interior design that shouldn’t be overlooked. 

In 2011 I worked on a wide variety of interesting projects including two restaurants, residential new builds, Victorian house refurbishments and contemporary apartments.  Leading up to the summer months, I also designed a number of external lighting schemes for some special urban gardens. 

2011 was also an exciting year for the lighting industry as a whole.  Since the introduction of the new Energy Efficiency Regulations in October 2010, manufacturers have been bringing new improved energy efficient products to market literally every month and an important part of my work has been to keep abreast of these developments to ensure my clients take advantage of the very latest technology.

I’ve found that most of my clients prefer me to see the projects through to implementation and not just be involved with the initial design.  I very much welcome this as I love to see my designs come to life and by being involved all the way through I can ensure that what I envisaged isn’t compromised.  My lighting surgery service has been popular too (although most of my clients who initially ask me to look at a single room end up asking me to do many more).  

I will be featured in the March issue of House and Gardens so please look out for me!

IDFX Design Awards 2010

I have been so busy recently that I've not had time to write about the recent IDFX awards (recognising excellence in residential design) that took place last month........

There were 12 design categories in total including 'Best Bathroom', 'Best Kitchen', and most importantly to me, 'Best Lighing Project'. 

After pondering a while about which of my projects to submit I decided on a couple that I thought met the criterior of 'pioneering, beautiful and inventive'.  I put together the submissions and then thought nothing more of it until I received an email saying I had been shortlisted!  I was delighted.  Apparently, there had been hundreds of entries from all around the world and some rather large names too!

I was invited to attend a champagne reception at the 100% design show at Earls Court where the winners would be announced!!  I went along with Rachel Campbell (an interior designer that I'm now working closely with - more about that later).  It was a bit like the Oscars!  The stage, the trophy, the announcements...'for the best lighting project the nominations are ......and the winner is......'.

On this occassion I didn't win but I was thrilled nonetheless to be in the top 5 of such prestigeous awards.  Next year i'll try again.... 

100% Design and Decorex

It's not often that I stumble across original decorative lighting. More often that not its the same old thing churned out. But this year at the 100% Design and Decorex shows quite a few lights caught my eye. I've shown a few below. They are made from various natural materials, salt (no less!), paper, wood, glass, concrete and metal. For more information please call me.


Revised Part L Regulations

In just over a week Part L of the UK Building Regulations (originally introduced in 2006 aimed at cutting carbon omissions) will become far more stringent.

For the interiors of domestic homes (new builds as well as work on existing buildings - extensions and conversions etc) 75% of the lights will need to be energy efficient (ie. have luminous efficacy of greater than 45 lamp lumens/circuit-watt and a minimum lumen output of 400 lamp lumens).  Lights with less than 5 watts won't count towards the 75%. 

For exterior lighting, daylight sensors will need to be used (so that lights turn off automatically when there is sufficient daylight) and either every light will need to be energy efficient or, if not, lights must be no more than100 watts and should be used with occupancy sensors (so that lights turn off automatically when the area being lit becomes unoccupied). 

The question I’ve been asked many times is ‘will it be possible to meet these new regulations and still achieve a beautiful lighting scheme?’  The answer is a resounding ‘yes’.  I’ve already completed a number of projects that meet these efficiency standards and am currently working on a design that is 100% energy efficient.

Life has been made easier this time around for designers, like myself, as the industry is far more prepared than it was 4 years ago.  There are many good quality energy efficient fittings available as well as some excellent energy efficient bulbs.  This is important as standard lights fitted with energy efficient bulbs will now count towards the 75%.   This is a departure from the 2006 regulations that stipulated the use of ‘dedicated’ energy efficient fittings only (ie. those that won’t work with traditional inefficient bulbs). 

The LED market in particular has taken off.  There are LED versions of most types of bulbs (GU10, GLS bayonet and Edison etc) that are dimmable and give a wonderfully warm light just like the traditional Tungsten bulbs that we know so well.  Manufacturers have unfortunately so far failed to produce a dimmable retrofit energy efficient MR16 bulb equivalent to 50 watts.  Many are trying, and, from what I hear it’s just round the corner. 

I’ll be writing another blog in 2 weeks that will detail some of the best energy efficient fittings and bulbs available.

Garden Lighting

Undoubtedly you'll be spending more time in the garden over the coming few months so why not make sure the lighting is right so that you can enjoy your outside space to its full potential.

I've just visited a client who asked me to improve her garden lighting.  It had been installed at great expense the year before by a garden landscaping company as part of a bigger landscaping project.  She had a wide variety of lights (up-lights, step lights, wall down-lights, path lights, underwater lights, you name it....) but the scheme didn't work.  The atmosphere created was wrong, so much so that she preferred her garden without the lights on.  My recommendation to her was to reuse a subset of the lights, introduce mulitiple circuits and improve the positioning of the lights to maximise their effect.  I'm pleased to say that it made all the difference.

Here are my top 10 tips for lighting your garden:

  1. Make if flexible so that you can use it in all the ways you want to (dining, entertaining etc).
  2. Make it subtle.  Less is definitely more when it comes to garden lighting.
  3. Make it functional so that you can navigate through it without any hazards.
  4. Make it energy efficient.  There are now some fantastic LED fittings available now.  I light my garden with only 10 watts.
  5. Use it to minimise any detrimental aspects of your garden, for example, if its long and narrow make sure you light up the sides.
  6. Use it to highlight any particularly attractive features: a brick wall, a statue, a plant/tree, a water feature (moving water looks particularly good when lit).
  7. Hide the source of light wherever possible and keep glare to an absolute minimum.
  8. Use the same colour temperature light throughout (I always recommend warm white rather than cool white).
  9. Choose good quality fittings that can withstand all that the weather throws at them and blend in with their surroundings.
  10. Ensure the light falls onto a surface - there is no point lighting up space!

If you would like more help with a new garden lighting scheme or simply to source some new garden lights please do call.

LEDs

The first commercially used LEDs (light emmitting diodes) were developed in the 1960's.  They were limited in their application because they could only produce a low level of red light.  Since then the technology has developed tremendously.  No longer consigned to lighting calculators, cats eyes or car headlights they are predicted to take the residential lighting world by storm.

The good quality LEDs now do everything the incandescent bulb can do but better.  They produce the same 'warm' white light, can be dimmed and come in different beam angles.   But that's not all, they last longer, are cooler to touch, and importantly, are far more efficient.  An LED will typically produce the same amount of light with a quarter of the wattage (energy). 

Sadly, at the moment, they are relatively expensive.  I'm confident, though, that the price will reduce over the coming years (just as the price of PCs fell in the 1990s).  Nonetheless I'm recommending them now wherever the budget allows as they are a fantastic solution for those of you who are keen to be energy efficient.

Why not call up and get more details.