An exclusive interview with the team behind the beautiful and unique wooden and acrylic table lamps now in the showroom. Available in a variety of different woods and colours, find out how they are made and where they come from. Designed and made in London, UK.
- How did Iluka come about and what were you doing previously?
We are a husband and wife team and both come from creative backgrounds, Dan from the graphic arts world and Sarah from Interior Design. While travelling through Central America in 2017, we decided we wanted to be involved in something more ‘hands-on’. We had already been experimenting with resin and wood for some time so when we returned, Iluka London was born and we started producing our first collection of table lamps.
- What is it like starting out as a small business in the interior design world?
It’s always tough when starting out and there is a certain leap of faith which all startups have to experience. But we knew we had an original product and the table lamps were being well received by interior designers so it made things a little easier after launching the new brand. Our hardest part recently has been switching from product development into marketing mode to get our products out to the public. We would love to be in the workshop all day but we’ve come to understand that the more important side of the business is supplier meetings, networking events and trade shows!
- How do you go about sourcing the wood and is it ‘environmentally friendly’?
Most of our wood is sourced from Australia (where Dan is originally from) and we use a special part of the tree which is called a burr or burl. Each burr can be harvested from live trees which allows the tree to continue growing, making it 100% sustainable. We also use cornstarch packaging rather than the standard foam which is biodegradable and dissolves when run under water.
- Which is your favourite wood to work with and what do you like about working with acrylic/resin?
Each piece of wood is truly unique and therefore hard to pick a favourite! We certainly have favourite lamps, some of which contain bubbles which is an un-expected but always welcomed part of the manufacturing process. We feel the bubbles add another dimension to each piece and they are normally the ones that sell the quickest!
- How long does it take to make one lamp?
First we select the type of wood and design and shape to size, being careful not to waste any precious timber. We then cast each piece in individual moulds and add the materials either resin or acrylic and it is cured under pressure for 2-3 days. When finally set, we remove the piece and the machining process begins. First the casting is milled to the precise size and shape, then it is hand sanded and finally polished to its finished state. We then do the custom brass work for the light fitting, usually adding an antique patina, fix it to the top of the lamp and add a brass engraved emblem to the bottom. The process is quite labour intensive and can take 4-6weeks from start to finish.
- Can you take orders for bespoke colours?
Of course! We are always experimenting with new colours and ways to compliment the wood, though we find clear is the best to enhance the natural beauty of the timber. Each table lamp is already bespoke by nature, but when dealing with a clients particular needs and design ideas, we usually charge an extra 10%.
- What other items would you like to start making?
We have recently launched a new range of accessories such as pen pots, coasters, cabinet knobs and small bowls to make use of any off cuts that we get during the manufacturing process of the lamps. We have also made some coffee tables, desks and side tables. Our first love had always been lighting though, and we are looking forward to making more pendant lights and LED versions of our table lamps without shades that will be lit from below! We also have been developing wall lights so watch this space.
- Do you work with any other artists or designers?
We have worked with many top London designers on bespoke furniture and table lamps, the biggest piece being an amazing chef’s table that weighed over 500kg! The design process is actually one of our favourite parts of the job, and have more ideas bouncing around is extra exciting! We are always looking for collaborations with other deisigners so please get in touch if anyone out there has something in mind. We love to push the boundaries and are always up for a challenge.
- What’s the best part of working as a husband and wife team?
We are both equally involved in the design process and there is always someone there for impartial and honest feedback on a certain idea or design. Our office is in our home and the workshop is only a 30 second walk away, so it never really feels like work! We may need to expand in the next few years but for now it works just fine and we are enjoying every minute of working together and growing Iluka London into a successful family business.