Claire Norcross… an inspiring lighting designer.

Venus Light

So in semester 2 of my MA we have been having weekly lectures from a series of guest speakers from different design disciplines. From this we should evaluate their practice and ‘position’ within the broader spectrum of design practice, examine their philosophies, adopted research methodologies, reflection process, influences, making techniques and target audiences / market. This will allow us to create a critical analysis and reflect their work to our own.



The first lecture we had was from lighting design Claire Norcross. But Claire didn’t start off like this, as she first studied an embroidery degree. But her interest in how light reacts with different materials and the effects this created drove her into a career in lighting.

She started working within a studio in the Science and Industry museum, Manchester after receiving a grant from the Arts Council. With little money and an interest in recycled materials, she searched refuse sites for materials and inspiration to create her designs. She started playing with materials that she could find around her and also used the techniques she learnt through her embroidery degree to create fixings.

 One of her major career breakthroughs and more remarkable designs was the eighty-fifty light. This was a unique and inspirational creation made from disused cable ties, which Claire found and then dipped into nylon to create an unusual effect. After retailing this through a few local companies, Claire then decided to take her design to Habitat who decided they were going to mass produce and retail the design. The light was a success and after being in the range for 7 years, it allowed her to get noticed as a lighting designer.



Aperture Light

 Another design for Habitat was the Aperture. This was inspired by the opening and closing natural mechanism of a pinecone. Using the basic material of paper, Claire created a light where you were able to open and close different sections of the light to create effects. But the problem Claire found with this design was how to encourage people to interact with the light and people without a creative background sometimes needed it spelling it out to them.

 After the success of the Eighty-Fifty and the Aperture, Claire got offered a lifetime opportunity to go and work for Habitat as an in-house lighting designer. But this was very different to Claries working style and usual environment, as she was used to spending 6 months designing one light, but now she had to complete around 60 different designs in this short time span. Claire was also a more ‘hands on designer’ and had not really had any previous experience of using computer software such as AutoCAD, to express and explain her designs to manufacturing teams on the other side of the world.

Ribbon Light

But using both her previous working styles, mixed with the Habitat way of working Claire started designing. One of the first major designs she created was the ribbon light, which she designed after playing and folding several pieces of paper. This light was launched in 2005, but can still be found in the Habitat range today, another great success for Claire. But after 3 years at Habitat, Claire left in 2004 to go back to her roots of being a ‘hands on designer.’ But her time at Habitat had made her successful and she was now a well known lighting designer.





Bloom 296 Light


One of the first projects after leaving was a competition she was invited to enter, where the theme was Impact. So 296 laser cut pieces of paper, handcrafted together and a series of hexagons and squares later, came the Bloom 296.

Throughout her career Claire has taken part and co-ordinated many exhibitions, one of the most interesting ones was pay and display. But I didn’t find this interesting because of the work being exhibited, but the way it was planned and co-ordinated. Organised and co-ordinated by Claire, she created an exhibition in a NCP car park behind Kendal’s in Manchester. Here designers paid and displayed their own parking space where they were able to exhibit their work. Another exhibition of interest was City Living in Preston city centre. Here they created a living space within the market, where different designers from different disciplines could show case their work.

After having her first child her career has now took a backseat to some extent but she is still designing for some major commercial company’s on a freelance basis. She is also working with local councils creating Illumination, a contemporary lighting festival for Morecombe.

I was really interested in Claries work, her approach to recycled materials and how she transformed and changed her career. I think it’s far to say, it was one of the best lectures I have ever attended.

Blue Rinse Light

Blue Rinse: Inspired by an old hair dryer found at a refuse site, Claire created this unique light. Despite wanting to keep it for her self, it was auctioned off for charity in 2002 by Elle Decoration.
Lamp-Post Light

Lamp Post: Created from a series of envelopes in 2003, this light was exhibited at the Designers Block Milano, Exhibition.

Venus (Shown Above): If you haven’t already guessed, the inspiration for this light came from the venus fly-trap, 2002.
To read more about Claire and her work please click HERE.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: