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Meet the Designer: the Comber Range

12 September 2019

Lunar cycles, naming new products and ambient mood lighting... we caught up with founder Tom Raffield to give us an exclusive insight into the development of our brand new Comber Range.

Inspired by the surging Cornish tides and the powerful Atlantic Ocean, our Comber Lighting Range showcases some of our most innovative, steam bent silhouettes. We've caught up with Tom to find out more about the three new lighting designs and see how he's incorporated them into his Grand Designs home. 

Born in the barrel of a waking wave, the Comber Lighting Range is shaped by the reverberating tides that lap the Cornish coastline.

The Comber Range has a different feel to other lighting ranges - tell us about what inspired it? 

TR: With our workshops located so close to the most westerly point of the UK we spend a lot of free time on the coast and in the water, no matter the season or weather. The Comber Lighting Range is all about exploring our relationship with the sea. The shapes, the sounds, the emotions. We wanted to create a lighting range that was inspired by the Cornish coastline and brought a piece of it into people’s homes.

Whether it’s the tranquil, glassy waves breaking onto the shoreline or the gale force winds and enormous spring tides battering the rugged cliffs, the ocean is always mesmerising. With cascading shadows and flowing light, each designs pays homage to one of nature’s most empowering elements, and one that never fails to influence us.

Our new Drift Pendant is inspired by the power and grace of the Atlantic Ocean.
The Neap Wall Light’s elegant form carves a perfectly balanced path of light to brighten above and below.

Which rooms of the home do you feel the Comber Range best lends itself to?

TR: I think each design lends itself to a variety of spaces. The Drift Pendant, which is the most statement piece in the collection, looks striking in a living area or a bedroom. We have three Drift Pendants over our dining table in the house – they look great in clusters and pairs.

Equally, the Neap Wall Lights suit a lot of smaller spaces; think hallways, snugs, or even bedrooms. However, they look equally good as accent lighting in a kitchen or living room. 

I think the Keel Pendants are equally versatile. At home, we’ve played around with having these as bedside lights, suspended at perfect reading height. The funnel shape of the pendant creates a beautiful soft light - perfect when you don't want a harsh task light right before bedtime. The Keel Pendants also look great in clusters – so I can see them working well as a feature in a stairwell or living room.

A trio of Drift Pendants hang over the dining table at Tom Raffield's Grand Designs home.

Is there a certain process you go through when coming up with a new design?

TR: It starts with a source of inspiration which then turns into hand sketches and line drawings. I also am a strong advocate of 'design through making' - basically playing around with ideas in the workshop to test materials, flexibility of wood grains and different steam bent shapes. All of this helps me think about new designs. I quite often discover a potential new design off the back of a creative experiment trialling new bending methods.

Once we’ve explored designs by hand they get modelled on computer software where we continue to make more tweaks. Then comes several rounds of prototyping where we explore which wood types work best for certain products and the most successful methods of bringing the concepts to life. Some designs just work and other times they go back to the drawing board a number of times. It can be a lengthy process because every element is very considered, but it’s really rewarding and great fun.

A cluster of our new Keel Pendants offer ambient night time lighting.
Combined with a No.1 Pendant, our Neap Wall Light provides structured accent lighting in Tom Raffield's Grand Designs home.

How do you think of the names for your products?

TR: We find a lot of inspiration from Cornish place names, the Celtic language and of course the nature that surrounds our design studios. 'Neap' is influenced by the dramatic tidal ranges we experience in Cornwall – the spring tides and the lunar cycle that influences seasonality. The word 'Keel' refers to the hull of a boat, but also means the spine of a shell which of course the Keel looks reminiscent of. We really liked 'Drift' as it connotes white water, breaking waves and the powerful tides that lap our rugged coastline.

Taking inspiration from the natural, spiralling forms that scatter our Atlantic tide lines, the Keel Pendant is a striking display of confident, modern design.

How would you recommend choosing between the oak and walnut wood types for the lights in this range?

TR: Each light in the Comber Range comes in oak or walnut and the differences are key. Oak wood slowly matures over time and tends to turn a rich golden colour. The light grain allows more light to emanate through the shade to create a warm ambient glow.

The walnut wood is of course a little darker. It tends to go a silvery, grey shade as it ages which is really beautiful. Walnut pendants create vivid shadows as less light radiates through the shade itself, the glow is more pink and dramatic.

Each wood is equally beautiful in its own right. I’d say it completely depends on the space in which you are positioning the shade and the overall desired aesthetic. We love mixing the different wood types of our lighting – especially when they are displayed in clusters. It adds another dynamic that works really well.

Six swells of sustainable, steam bent oak or walnut wood rise up and flow in undulating grace to create the Drift Pendant.
Tracing from crest to trough, a single piece of sustainably sourced oak or walnut wood seamlessly intertwines to form an enigmatic wall light.

Which light in the Comber Range is your favourite?

TR: That’s a difficult question! They are all great for different reasons. If I really had to choose, I’d probably have to say the Drift Pendant. The shadows are striking, and for me, are reminiscent of a breaking wave. The pendant also looks really interesting from underneath where you can see how the plywood structure holds each wooden wave in place; it’s the first light we’ve created with a hexagonal internal structure, so it feels special.

All of the designs in the Comber Lighting Range perfectly capture the essence of our inspiration, we're very proud of all of them and believe they all bring something different to the table so to speak!

The perfect ambience creator - our Keel Pendants provide warm, soft lighting in Tom Raffield's Grand Designs home. 

Posted: 12.09.19
Updated: 15.04.21

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