CTO Lighting is a luxury lighting company. Counting the iconic Savoy and Dorchester hotels among its clients, the company's approach blends traditional values of quality and craftsmanship with a contemporary emphasis on sustainability and collaboration.
Long-considered cornerstones of British luxury, hotels such as The Savoy and The Dorchester with their marble-lined lobbies, softly lit lounges and varying degrees of eccentricity, are seen to encapsulate an old English charm. Today, that’s just one lens on British luxury. There’s also the new generation of designers rediscovering craftsmanship and re-thinking sustainability.
Balancing sophistication with an outward-looking approach, CTO Lighting has been carrying the baton of British luxury for over 20 years. Since 1998, when Chris and Clare Turner founded the company, the core values haven’t changed. Commitment to the highest quality materials, manufacturing and design has seen them through numerous design trends from the late 90s to today. So, instead of a style then, perhaps British luxury can instead be found in its values.
While their lights are behind the warm ambient glow of the aforementioned social institutions, the CTO Lighting Collections of contemporary designs encapsulate the core approach. Each seasonal collection brings a new series of pendants, floor, table and wall lamps. Though there is a smooth continuity over the seasons. A CTO Lighting design lifts from a rulebook of simple, classic shapes – soft globes, curved drums, and slim cylinders. With this minimal treatment of form, the materials and refined finishes take centre stage.
Since 1998, when Chris and Clare Turner founded the company, the core values haven’t changed. Commitment to the highest quality materials, manufacturing and design has seen them through numerous design trends from the late 90s to today
The endurance of good design objects can be first traced back to the materials with which they are made. CTO Lighting is very conscious of making a sustainable contribution to design, and this starts with creating lighting pieces that will stand the test of time. The collections are built from the highest quality brass and marble, responsibly sourced walnut and wenge woods, and handcrafted glass.
Careful craftsmanship then enhances the properties of each material. CTO Lighting’s signature artisanal finishes serve to either soften or intensify. Take brass, the most predominant material of the collections. It shines brightly with the Oxidised Silvered Brass finish, created using traditional jewellery techniques. Yet shows its darker side with the Dark Bronze finish, where brass is stained before being hand-dipped into patination liquid.
Once the material foundations are laid, the next challenge lies in a timeless design. To master that art, one must be comfortable with time itself – understand the history of design, while also thinking about the values that withstand history, and to some degree, anticipating what might be important in the future.
CTO Lighting is very conscious of making a sustainable contribution to design, and this starts with creating lighting pieces that will stand the test of time
CTO Lighting streamlines traditional, modern, sculptural and dynamic references through design. An iconic favourite, the Nimbus chandelier with its soft cascade of artisan-formed glass discs is a retro take on a traditional centrepiece. While the shapes of the new Cielo collection, with their layered fritted glass domes, are inspired by the effect of light diffusing through an architectural cupola.
When Sir Gilbert Scott designed his epic Gothic revival building at Kings Cross in London in 1873, which today houses the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, he took an uncompromising attitude to quality. Over a century later, CTO Lighting was commissioned to design a bespoke lighting scheme for the bar and lounge spaces. It may come as a surprise that the contemporary lighting that illuminates the 19th-century architecture and plush leather seating feels right at home. While the ‘Gothic’ style might have gone out of fashion – the values that both architect and designers share are timeless.
The values of quality and timelessness can be seen in the work of many designers who are synonymous with British luxury. Luminaries such as David Collins Studio, Martin Brudnizki and Kelly Hoppen have created some of the most iconically British interiors. CTO Lighting counts all three as collaborators.
Collaboration, perhaps summarised best in the old adage ‘two heads are better than one’, is particularly meaningful to CTO Lighting. Back in the 1990s, Chris, an engineer by training with experience in design and manufacture, and Clare, a fashion industry creative director, combined their skills to create the company. Today, the ethos of collaboration goes far beyond their partnership; it extends to relationships with staff, clients, and collaborators.
Without getting at all political, the strength of good British design lies also in its openness to the world. The London design scene often feels like a crossroads where people meet to exchange ideas. And while the CTO Lighting Collection is on display at the London showroom, products are manufactured in the UK, distributed globally, and collaborations are always underway all over the world. With two new international designer collaborations to be announced in the upcoming months, we can be confident that, with CTO Lighting, the legacy of British luxury is in good hands.