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'I don't particularly like light fittings', says lighting designer Paul Nulty

Lighting designer Paul Nulty discusses the importance of light in architecture

Where have you come from?
I was director at Light Bureau for 11 years. I left in 2011, to set up my own practice: Paul Nulty Lighting Design. Our first job was for Kurt Geiger’s HQ.

What are you working on?
We’re working on two palaces in Doha. In London one of our current projects is a 24-hour restaurant on Great Russell Street. This is an amazing project. Capturing light is really important in a building which will be open for 24-hours. We’re also working on a commercial project on the top floor of the Walkie Talkie and a hotel that used to be a grade I-listed bank in central London.

What is your approach to lighting design?
We don’t have a house style. I don’t particularly like light fittings. It should be about the approach and the effect of light. You don’t have a visual space without lighting. I always say if someone comments on the light source, we’ve not done it right.

I always say if someone comments on the light source, we’ve not done it right

How do you work with architects?
It is important for us to collaborate and work with the architects on a scheme. Without this collaboration it will always look like the lighting was added on at the end. We need to get onto jobs earlier to allow this to happen. Often we don’t get involved in a project until too far down the line.

How is energy efficiency incorporated into your lighting designs?
When looking at energy efficiency people often confuse quantity of light with quality.

We do a lot of energy studies for clients - not very glamorous but they are very important. We’ve been working with TK Maxx to reduce the energy consumption of their stores by 20 per cent.

How do your projects in the UK differ to the work you do abroad?
In this country the attitude about how we use light is more thoughtful. In the Middle East you have to be more careful about design. The quality of finish is not as good there, so you have to design cleverly.

What are your top three lighting projects?
The Hoover Building by Imagination - not a particularly technical project but its use of coloured light was ground breaking - the Nike World Store by BDP and then Speirs + Major’s back catalogue is full of must-see lighting projects.

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