The Lighting Tree: Rachael Nicholls

Rachael is a Senior Designer with dpa Lighting Consultants, in Oxfordshire.


The Lighting Tree is a celebration of young UK lighting designers.

If you’re new to The Lighting Tree, this is how it works. Nominees for The Lighting Tree are nominated by previous nominees, so its nothing to do with the editor. Oh – and each nomination needs to be differently gendered. That’s all.


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

Rachael NIcholls



I became interested in lighting when I was studying Architecture; especially the way in which lighting can influence our psychological experience of a space. Light is such a powerful medium and I realised quite quickly that it was something I wanted to work with.

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?

I like working with people, our experience of light is so personal and subjective and I enjoy exploring this with clients, designers and project stakeholders.

I love set ups and seeing everything coming together as projects wrap up. I strangely enjoy the problem solving often required on site; it can be challenging but usually also very rewarding.

The concept stage is a close second, I enjoy working with my colleagues and exploring all the possibilities of the space we’re working on.

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?

Quantities; I just find them so very tedious!

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

Photography, art and live events have always influenced me, both the use of and interpretation of light to influence how we feel about something. From the lighting in fashion editorials to stage lighting in music concerts, I’m always fascinated by the diverse ways in which light is used by creators in other disciplines.  

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

I’m happiest on the water! I love the peace of sailing and I’ll never pass up the opportunity to get out on the water. I’ve sailed since a young age but in recent years I’ve also enjoyed discovering the fun of stand up paddle boarding.  

Rachael on the water
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