Design Heroes: In conversation with Naomi Paul

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My name is Naomi Paul and I am a lighting designer specialising in constructive textiles. We’re here in my new studio in Hackney marshes. I started off studying graphic design at Central St Martins, a year and a half later I realised that it wasn’t quite for me. Then I went on a trip to Japan and happened upon some weavers making rugs and I realised that I really wanted to make fabric and that was my calling. I met a jewellery designer who commissioned a sculpture from me. During that time I worked out a way to make it more functional because, although I loved making the sculpture, I realised that being a fine artist wasn’t for me. I really like making things that are functional and work within people’s lives. On a trip aboard for Christmas I was sitting with my brother very late at night at City Airport and he suggested I use the idea I had for the hanging sculpture and to evolve it into functional lighting. I then went away and sat in my flat for 2 weeks sculpting with cotton until I had my first collection.I have developed a cotton cord to make the pendants from – I had to develop the right tension. I worked with a mill to get that process perfect. I have recently done a wool collection, too.The frames we use for pendants are all made by a frame maker just outside Nottingham. The frames used to be powder-coated but I am moving away from that to make them more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Once I’ve come up with a design and made the first prototype I then put it into pattern form for my makers to create.I think the reason I have been so successful in America and Australia is the fact that I am a British Designer and 99% of the parts I source are UK based.

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