Lighting expert Beau McClellan unveiled his new collection for Brumberg, a leading German brand, in the region at the Light Middle East exhibition and conference held at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre last month.
This collection last year earned him four Red Dot design awards, which are rank among the largest and most renowned design competitions in the world.
McClellan, who was also a key speaker at the exhibition and conference, has recently signed up with Brumberg, and created a new bespoke line of lighting products called Beau for Brumberg. For Light Middle East, McClellan created a very special chandelier with reflective surfaces using DMX control technology.
“The installation will be simple but quite imposing with the idea being to get people to think outside the box,” he explains.
His love affair with lighting was honed during 10 years of taking bespoke assignments for private clients. Together with a fellow blacksmith Adam Varley, he founded Ferro Design near LoulÈ in Portugal.
Ferro Design Studio in time became a byword for exceptional work and was called in routinely to design and build all types of furniture, fittings, and decorative items that included large sculptures for companies and private clients.
“Light is a lovely medium to work with because it is integral to the creation of moods,” he says. “All my worldly-wise clients want something that money can’t buy. And with lighting I can help deliver that to them.”
McClellan believes that light-emitting diodes (LEDs) is the technology for the future as is now making it possible to create paintings with light.
“Designers are now discovering a whole new domain that never previously existed. LEDs offer tremendous scope in creating an ambiance, an aura and an emotion!” he says.
McClellan continues: “This technology is breaking new barriers and offering designers an opportunity to explore new ways of bringing it into design. The future is here. The idea is not just to put a bulb into a socket. The whole world has to pick itself up and think up new ways of employing this technology. I don’t think there has ever been a more exciting time before to be involved in design and lighting design. The earlier batch of LEDs emanated cold white light but now it is possible to create warm light and this changes everything.”
Dubai especially should make the most of LED technology as it offers an ecologically sound option. “The city is about the most exciting place I’ve seen. The scale of activity here is mind boggling!” he comments.
Lighting will see designers experiment with a whole host of new material. “Aluminium foam is the new component that allows you to make new structures that do not rot,” he says. “There are a lot of new ways to use old material. Traditional steel is now finding contemporary expression.”
The most important thing about design, says Beau, is to keep the spark alive. “The hard thing is to take it to the end. Nowadays, young designers have fabulous new 3D automated programs. But unless you understand the material you are working with, it’s very hard to take a 3D dimension into full-scale production. You have to dirty your hands to make your own prototypes.”
According to McClellan, all of today’s integrated home control systems that also control lighting need simplification. “Technically, there is much scope for control systems to become more user friendly,” he says.
So, ranging from a spectacular cliff-top Jacuzzi that needed a helicopter to be put it into place, to fabulous gates, intricate staircases, and chandeliers, Beau has had a hand at creating all of them.
His prowess was finally acknowledged when he was commissioned the sculpture of Zephyrus, by the Loule Municipal Council and the stunning chandeliers for the homes of Quinta Do Lagos.
And as he animatedly runs through a colourful and intense presentation of his creations, he stops in between to describe his numerous design projects, “This is like my catwalk fantasy stuff, quite OTT (over the top),” he says.
He points to an elaborate assymetrical chandelier made from crystal tubes reflecting a myriad shades dressed up in LED. “From this one chandelier which is more like my signature piece I created a crossover, which won the award,” he explains. “It inspired a wall fixture that was open at the top and bottom and used LED technology too.”
“The chandelier was a real challenge. The idea was to create a hanging sculpture which becomes an integral part of the interiors,” he adds.
But just creating a chandelier for the entrance foyer was not enough. Beau also helped design a staircase, which he personally forged to complete the effect.
He explains: “The initial inspiration for the stair grill came from a bunch of matchsticks spilled on the floor. Then I used lights to individually light up every step in a way that the light source is concealed. The final effect is quite surreal. In all the bespoke work I do, it’s important for me to create a ‘wow factor’. All my clients want is an object that has a story, is individualistic, representative of their unique tastes.”
Beau’s intense respect for traditional craftsmanship is matched with his contemporary design slant in all his projects. And this is a marriage that works. But lighting is now taking up all his attention.