Jeff Fuller, The Light Yard, Leigh
PUBLISHED: 00:00 15 October 2014 | UPDATED: 09:36 16 October 2014
After running a kitchen in the Palace of Westminster, Jeff Fuller moved to Leigh to follow his passion for high-end lighting. Alice Wilkinson reports
Sharply cut glass panels with smooth, crafted edges, meticulously layered and scrupulously positioned to refract and bend light. Jeff Fuller has used his expert eye for quality lighting to choose a collection of unique, handmade fixtures for The Light Yard, a business offering light fittings that are tailor made for each customer.
Listening to Jeff, it is evident that his success is a direct result of the genuine enthusiasm that he harbours for quality lighting. ‘The way light changes the appearance of a structure astounds me. It completely changes depending on the weather, time of day or season,’ he says.
His fascination dates back to his former career as a chef, where he managed a kitchen in the Houses of Parliament, serving banquets to dignitaries and royalty. Shift work meant that Jeff was often walking over Waterloo Bridge in the early hours and he would look back in awe at the beautifully-lit Palace of Westminster.
Now based in the small Lancashire town of Leigh, where he lives with his locally-born wife Fiona and their three young children, Jeff liaises with designers and clients across the globe from a home office. After 12 years in the hospitality industry, Jeff sought to find a career that fitted in with his family. Hanging up his chef whites, he endeavoured to earn an income from what he most enjoyed and in 2013 he established online The Light Yard.
Jeff’s vision to tap into the architectural and interior design lighting market materialised after several fruitful online searches led him to finding his team of designers. It is one of the most remarkable elements of The Light Yard that its foundations are entirely web-based - from the lighting designers around the world to the international customers.
He seeks out speciality British handmade light fittings but admits that the relationship with the designer is just as important as the quality of their designs. He wants to work people who share his goal to deliver lighting expertise to the customer.
Reaffirming the onus that Jeff puts on good working relationships, he speaks proudly of his friendship with British designer, Gwyn Carless, and considers their relationship one of The Light Yard’s main successes. They share a passion for the craft of handmade lighting and over the years the two like-minded professionals have built a phenomenal working relationship.
It all starts with a pencil drawing; once Jeff and Gwyn have discussed technicalities, they work collaboratively to create a sketch of their design. Gwyn takes the sketch to his workshop to produce a prototype and after further discussions ensue, the final piece is produced.
More bright Ideas
Do you play it or read by it? The Brass Trumpet lamp can be used as table or floor light and is 90cms high. It will set you back to the tune of £775. It comes from Alexander & Pearl.
This is based on Dutch airfield landing lights by the Philips company and were savlaged from decommissioned stock at Eindhoven Airport and updated with modern fittings. Handy if you ever find yourself on a dark Dutch airfield. It cost £420 from Skinflint Design.
This hand blown glass lamp base looks heavy enough to be one of the weapons in a Cluedo set. It comes from British fine fabric maker Fermoie with a brass fitting and silk flex. The large base is £325.00 and shades are from £70.00.
The oddly named Vessel P Table Light comes in any colour so long as its grey and is by Samuel Wilkinson for Decode. It was inspired by the idea of a ship in a bottle and the glass tint mutes the light without hiding the bulbs shape. It costs £264.00
‘We can get together at 9pm and by the next morning we have a new design,’ Jeff says as he proceeds to explain the inspiration behind the names of The Light Yard’s exclusive pendants “Linford” and “Christie”.
Jeff and Gwyn had been working on a prototype pendant design. Eager to finish the piece, Gwyn took it home to work on over the weekend. The following morning he awoke to whispers from his daughters sneaking downstairs. When one of them exclaimed ‘Daddy’s made a castle!’ he bolted out of bed before they could lay a finger on the delicate glasswork.
On retelling this close shave to Jeff he remarked: ‘Linford Christie would have been proud of me! I was downstairs before they’d finished the word “castle”!’ The name was born and the athlete was happy to go along with the joke.
After his first year of self-employment, it is evident that Jeff’s determination has in no way dwindled and he has no regrets about his career change. ‘I enjoy the freedom of working myself, no two jobs are ever the same and I love that. I meet new people and face new challenges everyday.’ So, what’s next for The Light Yard? Continuing to harvest his enthusiasm for handmade lighting, Jeff hopes to meet many more talented designers and like-minded crafts people and to build his business so that, one day, his three children will have a business to join.