British brands and products for interiors have made a real comeback recently, not just because we all feel we need to control our carbon footprint and buy locally, but because British brands often have a fantastic reputation for excellent quality, unique and sometimes "quirky" design. None more so than Original BTC Lighting, whose designs are currently more sought-after abroad than in the UK; but this has already begun to change in the UK with the introduction of wall, ceiling, table and floor Original BTC lighting into all John Lewis shops and online from July this year.
The brand started out as "The Original Bowles Trading Company", taking its name from Peter Bowles the owner and designer. Peter's relaxed, familiar lighting is inspired by a family history steeped in retail, manufacturing and design. A carpenter by trade, Peter's grandfather was chairman of a renowned furniture manufacturer. After learning the ropes there, Peter's father launched iconic 1960s lighting manufacturer Cosmo Designs, employing 13-year-old Peter on his stand at the Harrogate Lighting Fair. Peter's childhood was often spent visiting his father's manufacturing facilities, which opened his eyes to the clean lines of traditional factory fittings, and the versatility of mid-century style.
In 1990 Peter returned to his roots, opening an Oxford-based lighting factory. "My goal was to design and produce lights that you are instantly at home with, that will fit easily and comfortably for many years to come". His inspiration is drawn from all quarters, whether it be an antique lamp used to keep chicks warm, or the searchlight on the back of a toy lorry - authenticity and attention to detail remain at the heart of the collection.
One of the product stories that we really loved was Peter's decision to use woven cotton braid – with a sample snipped off a family iron - instead of the commonly-used plastic lighting flex. This has become one of Original BTC's best-loved design features, and we decided to stock a number of lights that have this quirky design feature in John Lewis, such as the Hector table lamps or the Cobb Rise and Fall ceiling pendant.
I really like the fact that the designs are typically relaxed and unfussy, but it's the combinations of the materials that really make each light interesting. The Titan ceiling light is a classic 1940s shape, inspired by an original casting found in a Birmingham factory whilst Peter was searching for industrial style components. The clip-on visors take inspiration from a clipping used on an industrial storage drum and are hand-spun in Birmingham. They look great in kitchens, or creating a statement grouped in trios above a table.
The use of traditional glazed porcelain in our bestselling Hector range give it a classic look but updated with the use of the quirky iron braid and chrome fastenings. The range comes in wall, table, ceiling and floor lights.
We're really proud to be working with a British brand, and we know that many of you will be pleased to support a company whose products are "Made in UK".