Astro Lighting is a recent addition to the community of excellence that is The BCFA and with November’s theme of Lighting we couldn’t have asked for a greater company to unearth some insight from.
We are delighted to have spoken with Astro’s Chairman, John Fearon, and Design Director, James Bassant who have given us the inside scoop into the lighting industry and how Astro became the international leading brand in bathroom lighting that it is today.
Can you tell us how Astro first started?
Almost twenty years ago, when the company for which we both worked was taken over, we decided to go our own way. We joined forces because of our shared belief that British design could be rekindled in lighting. Within a number of months we were working with major retailers such as Habitat and John Lewis among others.
Why the move into bathroom Lighting?
When stricter regulation for bathroom lighting was introduced in 1999 Astro only had a couple of bathroom lights in its range. Bathroom lighting as a genre hardly existed but we saw an opportunity to change that. While the new rules caused other suppliers to shy away from bathroom lighting, we grasped the nettle and built a range which today is one of the most comprehensive in the world. You could say we were instrumental in creating splashproof bathroom lighting as a category.
“New rules caused other suppliers to shy away from bathroom lighting, we grasped the nettle and built a range which today is one of the most comprehensive in the world”
What inspires your designs?
Inspiration comes from a huge variety of sources, including art and design, films, furniture, architecture and nature. It is about being open to seeing forms in things that you find pleasing and using that to inspire a light. For example, you can see the lines of a J class yacht in the new Gosford wall light, while the purity of geometry certainly resonates in our architectural plaster ranges.
How have Astro’s designs changed over the last 19 years?
One of the biggest changes over the last 19 years has been an increase in confidence to design larger products, which are less domestic in scale and more targeted at the contract and hospitality sectors. We have also refined our understanding of the common thread of creative thinking which lies behind Astro’s designs. Essentially we always strive for an elegantly simple solution to a design brief.
“Increase in confidence to design larger products, which are less domestic in scale and more targeted at the contract and hospitality sectors”
We plan to innovate continually and expand in market areas in which we have always been strong – bathroom lighting for example. A more technical aspect to the range will be needed, too: We need to respond to the internet of things and adapt our products to be more interactive, whether that be colour tuneable white LEDs or improved dimmability.
Identifying gaps in the market has always been priority for us. As such Astro was early to adopt LED technology as well as leading the market in plaster lights, which are particularly popular with Architects. We will always seek those niches which have been so successful for us and will be the key to Astro’s continued development as a business.