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MEET: Hannah Nunn
Today we are pleased to meet West Yorkshire based lighting designer Hannah Nunn, to find out about her own work and her book "illuminate" which she has written for Bloomsbury and is out next Month.
Tell us about your background and how you began your career as a designer.
I have always loved making things and drawing, so going to Art College was an obvious choice. I soaked up every minute of it, getting in early, leaving late every evening, learning about the creative process and experimenting with techniques. I was the ‘crafty one’ and the multidisciplinary ‘Crafts’ course in Carmarthen was my next move. As it happens, I did not complete the course as I became pregnant half way through but I never stopped being creative and while my children were small I was always dreaming about how I could make it as an artist and carving time to develop my practice. I moved to Hebden Bridge, rented some studio space and I got started.
Have you always had a passion for lights?
I guess I have always loved cosiness and the right lights can create that. I have always loved seeing lights on in people’s houses at dusk and I loved having real electric lights in my doll’s house as a child. I remember the orange sparkly plastic one in the hall. Switching them on was so cosy. I have always tried to create that homely feel wherever I have lived. An evening under bright lights just isn’t an evening at all! When I started making lights of my own, I became drawn to other people who made lights too and this made my passion burn ever brighter!
Describe a typical day at Hannah Nunn HQ?
Every day is different. I live upstairs from my shop and studio so I don’t have far to go to work. My favourite day starts with a walk in the woods with my camera for some fresh air and inspiration, then back to the shop to open at ten with a fruit bun from the bakery next door and a cup of tea! Then it’s all go, making lamps, packing orders, photographing things for the website, answering emails and looking after my customers. I save my design and development days for Mondays and Tuesdays, when the shop is closed and I’m on my own.
You have just launched your first book 'illuminate' published by Bloomsbury. How did this first come about?
I chatted to a lovely lady who visited my stand at Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair. We talked for ages about my work and about my shop Radiance and all the lights that we sell. I guess my passion was easy to spot! She came back later on, told me she was an editor at Bloomsbury and asked me if I would like to write a book about craft lighting
What research did you do for the book? How long did it take for you to write it and interview the designers?
I did a lot of research over the course of a year. My Mondays and Tuesdays became ‘book days’ and I worked really hard. Wherever I could, I went to visit the designers in their studios to interview them, find out their stories and hear about how they came to be making lights. Even though the book features makers from all over the world, I did not get to travel everywhere. I had to do the foreign interviews by email.
Obviously I knew a lot of lighting makers through the shop and through ‘noticing’ lights in general but it was lovely to be able to work with people, I could not have in the shop for one reason or another and it was great to discover totally new things too. I spent a lot of research time scouring Pinterest for interesting lights. It has been great to cast my craft lighting network even further afield and I have made some friends in the process too, like Ai Kawauchi who I visited in Japan earlier this year. Everyone has been brilliant. Such an inspiration!
Where can we buy the book? And are you selling signed copies?
You can buy it on my website here and yes I can sign a copy for you. I will be doing a book signing/launch at Radiance on the 10th November from 2-5 pm, where you can help me celebrate with a glass of bubbly! After this date it will be in bookshops and on Amazon.
You have a shop called Radiance in the picturesque town of Hebden Bridge, how do you manage to juggle the two businesses?
Yes my ‘Hannah Nunn’ business is for the making and selling of just my own work and Radiance is a separate business that sells lighting by loads of designers/makers. Each business feeds the other. They work hand in hand, but I still think of them as separate entities. It helps having everything under one roof and living upstairs. It’s fun. We are always busy. It is great being able to work with pretty things and I am really motivated by people’s warm reactions or when they go round oohing and ahhhing in the shop!
What is next for you and your Company? Have you any new products for Christmas?
Well I’m working on some surface pattern designs as I would love to add some nature inspired wallpaper to my collection next year. Radiance has got all sorts of glowing goodies coming in for Christmas. My current favourites are Jennifer Colliers lampshades and these white paper owl fairy lights.
Hannah Nunn’s websites:
Photo Credits - Sarah Mason Photography