Spotlight: Light My Night
"I felt that there was a massive market for it and there really aren’t too many lighting designers out there, to be honest. If someone’s looking for it, where do they go?"
At OX we love small, local businesses who display a true passion for attention to detail, artistry and pride in what they do.
Each month, we shine our Spotlight on a small-to-medium scale enterprise who we think embody these values and celebrate the best of Oxfordshire’s small business.
For November, we’ve spoken to Steve Wing, director of Kidlington-based garden lighting designers Light My Night.
Hi Steve, how did you get into lighting design?
I just happened to be sitting next to a Canadian guy on a plane about 11 years ago, and I asked him what we did for a living. He told me he was a garden lighting designer, and that the industry is massive in Canada and the US – they like having their backyards lit up like a Christmas tree.
So were you in the industry at the time?
No, at the time I was a store director at a department store group – I’ve done many shop refits over the years so I’ve always had a keen interest in lighting, and obviously the benefits of good lighting from a retail perspective are enormous. The guy on the plane got me thinking – in Britain we have the most beautiful gardens in the world, that we toil long and hard at, but in the evening all we generally do is put a floodlight out the back which illuminates if the next door neighbour’s cat walks through the garden. That’s our excuse for garden lighting. A few people use solar lighting, which doesn’t work particularly well in our country because we just don’t have enough sunlight. That kind of light also just glows, rather than actually illuminating the garden. We’re also a nation of conservatory lovers, and there’s a massive trend for single-storey extensions with bifold doors to let the garden in, and yet in the evening, in that environment, all we’re doing is staring at a black reflection of ourselves.
So how does your business change this?
I come out to a customer’s home then look at their garden space and talk about which areas of their garden are the nicest – it might have some nice trees, features or ponds. We look at where they sit and where they look at the garden, and then work out a nice lighting design using LEDs. I do a demonstration and if they’re happy, we fit a mains grid of cable around the garden perimeter and install some very nice, atmospheric and dramatic lighting.
Is this an end-to-end service, from conception to installation?
Yes it is. I’m not an electrician myself but I employ a fantastic electrician who works alongside me. 11 years ago, when I first heard the idea from the Canadian man on the plane, the industry standard was halogen lighting, and the costs were very expensive. One of my most recent projects used 45 lights across two and a half acres of land, and the total running costs for the whole lot was less than a single 150watt lightbulb.
Was your chance meeting on the plane what inspired you to get started in the industry?
Yes, I felt that there was a massive market for it and there really aren’t too many lighting designers out there, to be honest. If someone’s looking for it, where do they go? Some people might call out a landscape gardener, but they’re not lighting specialists. They might call an electrician, but all they’ll do is put a catalogue in front of them. If they call me I’ll look at the best lighting for them, balancing it out properly, the right lux levels, making sure the lighting doesn’t conflict and doesn’t cause light pollution, and so on. I felt that there was a need in this country for somebody like myself.
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