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How it's Made: Customization in Handmade Lighting Design

22 March 2023

For the interiors industry to keep up with the mutable meaning of luxury, brands are having to deliver meaningful value to customers whilst becoming adept at empowering expressions of individual identities. In short, customization is key for contemporary lighting and furniture design.

Gabriel Scott has been offering customizable designs since the brand’s inception in 2012. In our latest interview, we speak with Gabriel Scott’s head of design, Nicolas Pomerleau, who explains the noticeable increase in customized design requests, the importance of a flexible customizable design offering, and how the studio’s collection has evolved to offer greater customization options in designer lighting and furniture alike.

Why is it important to Gabriel Scott to offer customizable design?

Customizable design is the essence of who we are as a brand, I have been at Gabriel Scott almost since the beginning and it has always been at the core of our brand. Offering bespoke products brings its challenges but these are the pieces that we, as a design team, thrive when working on. Customization enables us to interact more with our interior design and architect clients, which puts us in a better position to understand their ongoing needs for both luxury light fittings and furniture. We get to work on fantastic projects with fantastic people, and we get involved in long term installation and designs - we love to challenge ourselves! (NP)

How many of the Gabriel Scott pieces can be customized?

All of them! We also do completely bespoke products that are not even in our collection. From the glass to the finishing, size and shape of the designs, it can all be customized. In other words, there is almost nothing we can't do.

Our design and build teams sit together at our Montreal Studio which gives our clients the opportunity to work closely with our team on every step of the customization process. This also means that customization projects can be met on reasonable lead times, depending on the intricacy of the design that is. Generally smaller products such our Pendant lighting can be customized at shorter lead times and the bigger the project the longer the lead time. (NP)

How has the studio’s contemporary lighting design evolved to provide further custom options?

When designing new products we always think of systems; how can this piece evolve into something else? How friendly is this design to be manipulated into something else? Ten years into this business we have really developed a language and a unique hardware that allows us to play with all ideas.

As we have seen an increased demand for customizable designs, we felt we had to listen and accommodate these demands by introducing new finishes to our existing collections. For example the Luna Kaleido, Welles Textured Glass and our Welles Reimagined series are all new variations of glass textures, colors, shapes and configurations that have been added to our existing collection to offer greater choice.

The beauty of our business is the amount of time our in-house design team are able to spend in conversation with interior designers, architects and directly to customers. Not only has this led us to be able to develop our existing collections, understand first hand how the market is changing but this has led to the creation of some truly incredible custom Gabriel Scott pieces. (NP)

When working with designers on the Welles Reimagined series, did the designs easily lend themselves to customization?

The Welles Reimagined was really an exciting experience for me. It was almost like a reward seeing all these professionals rethinking our designs, brainstorming our products and diving into Gabriel Scott's world.

The process was simple; the designers received a brief with specifications and that was it. From this point we scheduled regular meetings to ensure we could build designs, it was truly a collaborative process. As a result of the collaboration all the designers have specified their design in projects, with some even specifying custom pieces. We hope to see the finished projects being shown very soon, watch this space! (NP)

Has the studio seen an increase in custom design requests? If so, who or what do you think is driving the demand for greater customisation?

Absolutely! Custom design requests are truly a strong asset at Gabriel Scott. People invest into their homes and they’re always seeking something unique, I believe this comes from both the designer and the client. Having a completely custom fixture is pushing exclusivity to another level. Working with a designer to create a custom piece enables their entire vision for the project to come to life.

We also work with hospitality projects that require full custom design, these usually fall on a larger specification to domestic projects. For example, we created a bespoke 50ft long Welles Chandelier that is randomly sprawling through The Gensler project on the 64th floor of the One World Trade Centre. (NP)

What is the most extravagant request you have had for customization and were you able to fulfil it?

We have created some breathtaking pieces, a project that springs to mind is when we made a completely bespoke Luna pendant that passes through 6 floors in a private residence in NYC. The design was custom, the Luna pearls were custom, even the hanging system that was installed underneath the skylight was custom. It was extremely rewarding to see the final result but also knowing how everything fits perfectly in place, it was completely flawless. (NP)

How many variations of finishes do you use and why have you chosen those finishes?

In terms of hardware we have our signature brass, copper, nickel, black and white finishes, but custom finishes are available upon request.

For our glass options we have a variety of textures and colors available. We bought out the textured glass range for the Welles, which has fast become one of our most popular finishes, on top of this we can create custom colors and textures to suit the client’s needs. (NP)

When a custom lighting request is received, what is the design process from start to finish?

In general a custom lighting request would come to us through our account management team, who would talk through with the client what they are looking for. Once they have decided on a fixture, the client would then meet our design team, usually virtually, but for some projects we have hosted in either of our London or New York Showrooms or in our workshop in Montreal.

The design team would discuss all aspects of the project to understand exactly what the client is looking for. Following this discussion our design team put together the drawings of the customized fixture and present these to the client. If the client was looking for customized glass and finishes, samples would be produced and sent to the client for approval.

Once all the drawings and finishes have been finalised production would begin at our 30,000 sq ft workshop in Montreal. Given every one of our luxury light fittings and furniture pieces can be customized - be that size, finish or even design styles, our lead time varies project to project. (NP)

Read for more information or to enquire about customization.

Custom Myriad Vertical Chandelier at Bar Basso, Milan

Custom Welles Steel Long Chandelier for Durst at One World Trade Centre, New York

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