Good News: Blessed are the Cheesemakers

I don’t usually write about my own design work; it feels a bit cheeky and self-obsessed, but here’s something different – seeing as how I said a few days ago that I’d only write about positive things between now and Xmas.


I’m just back from a business-inspired lockdown break-out to Bovey Tracey, on the eastern edge of Dartmoor to see how a bit of retail lighting design is coming along. The Cheese Shed is the go-to website for West Country cheeses. It’s owned by Ian ‘almost a relative’ Wellens, which might explain why I got a call from him once he’d decided to open a bricks-and-mortar retail experience in BT.

And here’s the reason I’m writing: I’ve only been doing this kind of lighting design for about 45 years, so I can talk up a mighty storm about light and colour and the visual experience – and yet I still experience that middle-of-the-night design anxiety when I can convince myself that the natural laws of physics have been kidding me all these years and that my elegant design will turn to ashes in the cruel light of a crap idea and a worse spec.

. . . and the client is a good friend;

. . . and the shop opens just after Xmas;

. . . and my entire life has been a fraud;

. . . and – and – and;

That feeling can stay with me until the very point that I step inside the shop and into my dream design. Phew! And with a single bound, he was free.

What is it about the human condition that we can beat ourselves up so convincingly, even when we’re on such safe ground, as I was here? There’s a thing called Imposter Syndrome, when we think that we’re about to be found out for the fraud that we are. When we put a design together in August and don’t see the results of that until the end of November, that’s a long time for those inner critics to get going.

So here’s the takeaway from today’s trip down to Devon. Just remind yourself of what you know that you know – that the universe is not likely to change the rules just for you (not impossible, just very unlikely) – and that all of the knowledge and exrerience that you’ve gathered down the years actually have some standing in the world.

Top job!

And extra-special thanks to the manufacturers who made this little bit of joy happen:

  • Illuma Lighting for the track and spots
  • Astro Lighting for the gorgeous glass pendants
  • OSRAM for the 1500lm LED filament lamps
  • SORAA for the SNAP lamps and lenses
  • And the nifty local craftsman carpenter for the pattresses.

Blissings on you all.

Le Grand Ouverture of The Cheese Shed will be in late January – once Ian and the rest of the guys have got their energy back from packing all those Xmas boxes full of cheesy treats.

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