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Thomas continues to design his own lighting
products in parallel with his electrical work. He
is constantly perfecting a range of products
and custom pieces, playing with materials
and processes, and has produced a stunning
collection of work, from high-volume flat-pack
products to one-off hand-made objects.
The results make a very modern statement,
while retaining the warm integrity of the materials:
string, rattan and wood. Using a clever mixture of
handmade craft techniques and machine-made
componentry has allowed Thomas to keep all
production locally based.
What has emerged is a second business for
Thomas. Called Light Basics, the business now
produces electrical products for small designer/
makers—the likes of which have bloomed with
the new appreciation of crafting in design and
websites like etsy that allow small makers to
promote and sell their products to the world.
Thomas imports certified, approved
components from China so that he can help
designers to produce lighting products here,
and meet Australian standards. He produces
the electrical components while the makers
can concentrate on working with their own
materials. (The day we spoke, Thomas was
off to see a glass blower to chat about a
glass light collaboration.)
Through the Light Basics website, a
designer can choose good-looking cable by
the metre, lamp holders, ceiling roses, light shades
and even light globes. By holding a carefully
curated range of electrical componentry,
Thomas doesn’t need a giant warehouse
to store the full range of gear.
“When I started out, I wanted to make
beautiful products everyone could have but, over
time, I’ve seen how that does and doesn’t work.
What’s changed is the manufacturing might of
China while ours has eroded.”
The collaboration with Thomas is also allowing
all those backyard makers and crafters to benefit
from a professional in electrical safety. No more
“There’s to and fro in a successful
collaboration. We can sell and promote each
other’s products. I’m trying to make it easy to
make something which, in the past, has been
difficult for makers. Even if I’m not installing
it myself, I know what the electrician is going
“I love designing a light in isolation from
an environment and then seeing the many
and varied ways that other people end up
using them. You have to remember that
someone else is seeing your products
as part of their own designed solution.
“Like other physical elements in a space
the form of a light can visually enhance a space.
However, unlike most other objects in a space,
the function of a light can entirely transform the
atmosphere of space. It is a crucial element in
creating a beautiful environment.”
energysafe issue 39
Design meets electrical: Light Basics allows small designers and makers to produce
their own lighting creations. Photo: Thomas Seymour.
Quick lighting tips
From Yourhome.gov.au: Australia’s guide
to environmentally sustainable homes:
»» Use highlights to draw attention to key
objects in spaces or a room, or for
lighting-specific tasks. Carefully select
features to highlight and use the m!nimum
effective highlight level so you don’t waste
energy. By contrast, dark areas serve to
accentuate the brigher objects of interest.
»» Use separate lighting solutions and
circuits for each function rather than
integrating them. Lights may need
to be on separate switches.
»» There is no best lamp for all applications;
good design uses an appropriate light
fixture for each application.
»» Avoid using downlights for general
illumination. They make bright pools
of light on the floor (most floor surfaces
absorb up to 80 per cent of the light)
while making the ceiling cavity appear
dark, which creates a gloomy ambience.
Up to six downlights can be needed to
light the same area as one pendant light.
Think about other ways of lighting with
fluorescent omni-directional lamps.
»» Basic rule: for the same wattage lamp,
the smaller the beam angle the brighter
the surface illuminated but the smaller the
area illuminated. Select the appropriate
beam angle by determining the largest
dimension of the feature to be lit and
the distance from it.
»» Fluorescent, CFL and LED lights are
available in a wide range of colour
temperatures. Cool and warm white
temperature lamps give rooms a different
appearance. Match the lamp’s colour
temperature to the tones of the room.
»» No matter what colour temperature light
you choose, if it has a low colour rendering
tone, nothing will look good under it!