The Lighting Tree: Phil Copland

We welcome Phil Copland to The Lighting Tree.
Nominated by Juliet Rennie, Phil is a senior designer with Nulty+.
For those of you who are new to The Lighting Tree, its quite simple. Nominees are suggested by the previous nominee – and they need to be differently gendered. That’s it.
Oh, and its really about the FUTURE of lighting design, so us oldsters don’t get a look in.


What was the fascination with lighting that drew you to into this career?

Phil Copland

To be honest I found my way into lighting completely by accident, while I trained as a product designer. I have always had a soft spot for all aspects of design and craft.

One year I made my way to Euro Luce in Milan, not truly knowing what I was in for. In addition to some very sore feet I left Italy with a strong love for light and luminaires and since then my passion for lighting has grown and grown. There is something truly primal about our connection with light and its ability to affect our mood and emotions. Working to help share and enhance this connection with others really excites me.

There are lots of aspects to creating good lighting design; is there any one aspect of the process that means more to you than anything else?

While I love all aspects of lighting there is nothing that gets me quite as excited as creating something unique. This can be as simple as a different take on a lighting detail or getting to work with a client to realise a large scale installation. It’s not so much the end result as it is the process of working though from that initial spark of an idea to the seeing something come into being that others can enjoy.

I guess we should also ask, for balance, is there anything in the process that you’d prefer to avoid and pass onto someone else in the studio?

A real bug bear of mine is the value engineering process. While I understand the need to meet budgets, as a consultant I would never needlessly spend a client’s money and I will always do my best to give the best value possible. While it’s true everything can be done for less, the rush to the bottom only ever results in a poor version of what could have been, and in my experience it’s very rarely the client who really benefits from the process.

What or who are your influences when it comes to light creation?

My main influence has always been the beauty that can be found in the everyday. Nature and coincidence have always been able to amaze and outdo us at all things lighting, whether it’s the quality of light passing through a woodland tree canopy or the simple moment of light reflecting off a puddle of oil, there is always something beautiful that can be found and that even the most talented of designer can only hope to recreate.

Tell us something about the you that exists outside of lighting.

I love to make things, it doesn’t overly matter what but I love creating something which otherwise would not have existed and has been made by my own hands. There is a very close and personal connection with an object which has be worked and refined from raw material into something useful and this is something that I really enjoy. I have a particular fondness for making knives, the combination of traditional metal and woodwork really appeals to me and the beauty and simplicity of the tool that’s created really resonates with me.

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