Profile: Paul Cocksedge

June 17, 2013
Photo: ©Marcello_Bonfanti

Amidst the wash of new lighting pieces introduced at Milan Design Week, there were few as visually intriguing as Shade. Created for Flos by London-based Paul Cocksedge Studio, Shade borrows from both the traditional suspended ceiling lamp and the floor lamp to create an object that exists in a category entirely of its own. Floating in mid air, its form is reassuringly familiar and yet the total absence of heavy power cables or support structure gives it an engaging surrealist edge.

Stripped of physical clutter, Shade allows the end user the freedom to place a light source wherever they want, without feeling tied to a building’s predetermined wiring grid. Easily installed, near invisible capillary-thin wires hold the paper shade section in place, while an LED floor fitting uplights the piece with a perfectly balanced, clean, warm white light.

Shade typifies the approach of Paul Cocksedge, a designer whose work spans architectural projects, design products and sculptural pieces – infusing each with a sense of simplicity, joy and wonder.

Though this is the first commercial piece to join Flos’s permanent portfolio, Cocksedge has previously collaborated with the Italian firm on a number of one-off works. With each encounter, the designer has been impressed by an openness to ideas and appreciation for his design intention, not least during discussions with Flos president Piero Gandini.

“Those meetings are the stand out moments for me,” says Cocksedge. “A lot of times when you meet someone who owns the manufacturing company, the discussion quickly goes to finance and numbers, whereas with Flos its always about creativity – how to keep the essence of the idea and translate that into an industrialised object. Flos are used to dealing with creative people – and they’re very creative themselves – so it’s a moment of two creative energies coming together; it’s kind of a designer’s dream.”

Importantly, for Cocksedge the process is not about producing ‘a lamp’, rather it is an expression of his on-going engagement with light as a material.

“For me I’ve just always been fascinated by light and its mechanics, by how it works in so many ways,” he explains. “It’s mysterious; it’s beautiful; it feeds us; it’s everything. So the objects that appear in my portfolio are just about showing people the wonders of that in different configurations. They’re not disconnected, they’re one, they’re a theme.”


Bourrasque, 2011
Festival of Light, Hotel de Ville, Lyon, France

In his installation “Bourrasque”, designer Paul Cocksedge combined his interest in the nature and morphology of paper with a subject that has long been an important element of his design work: light…

Cocksedge explained: “I’ve been fascinated for a long time by the various properties of light: how it emanates, how it diffuses, bends, reflects, and scatters. With these EL sheets I’ve been able to explore much further the idea of light as a flat object, as something touchable and malleable – not housed in a glass bulb or a neon strip, but an object you can bend and twist – and almost see it come alive in your hands…”

You might see these luminous sheets as documents that have suddenly escaped the confines of the offices and archives housed in this historic building, merrily fluttering on the wintry air… Equally, one might be reminded of the future of the paper medium itself, and specifically the new prototype developments in the physical shape of written media: thin, flexible tablets for downloading newspapers and magazines, perhaps even television and film.

As with all of Paul Cocksedge’s work, “Bourrasque” showed his acute sense of the role of technology in design, combined with a characteristic lightness of touch, with elegance and joy.

Dimensions: Height 15 meters, length 25 meters
Material: Electroluminescent material

©Mark Cocksedge
©Mark Cocksedge

Crystallize, 2005
Designed for the Swarovski Crystal Palace Collection

‘Crystallize’ is a chandelier made from light and so when there is no light the chandelier disappears. Using lasers and crystals in perfect alignment, the iconic shape of a Swarovski crystal is drawn in mid air. At the heart of the chandelier is a single crystal, which sparkles as it catches the light.

Dimensions: Height range from 90cm to 180cm
Material: Crystals, laser module and glass

© Andrea Ferrari
© Andrea Ferrari

Kiss, 2009/2010
Commissioned by Comuni di Milano for Light Exhibition Design (LED)

Developing an idea of staging intimate encounters in the public sphere, ‘Kiss’ reinvented the ancient European tradition of kissing under a mistletoe and transforms it into an act of charity.

‘Kiss’ consisted of a huge LED canopy hanging above a stage from the centre dome of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and a large mistletoe.

When couples moved up to the stage and kiss, their connection activates a light sequence in the LED canopy, that changed colour in varying intensity, ultimately forming numbers in the sum of kisses given under the mistletoe. Each time this occured, in the spirit of the Christmas season, the sponsor UBI Banca, donated one Euro to CESVI, helping ease hunger in North Uganda.

© Mark Cocksedge
© Mark Cocksedge

NeON, 2003
1st prize winner, ‘The Bombay Sapphire Prize 2003’, International Glass Design Award

NeON is a collection of hand made glass vessels filled with natural gas, charged with current and suspended. In day light they are translucent with a hint of natural colour. In darkness they have a unique and beautiful aesthetic all of their own with strikingly vivid colours. This product is purchased in clusters as the composition is integral to their design.

Dimensions: 10cm x10cm x 50cm (each vessel)
Material: Glass vessels filled with gas

© Richard Brine
© Richard Brine


Inspired by the quality and beauty of light and the astonishing new BMW 6 Series, the first BMW with Full-LED headlights, Paul Cocksedge has erected a seamless, curving, white wall extension to the Flos showroom and low-hanging red and white conical lamps. Stepping inside one of the impressive SESTOSENSO red lights, a video of the BMW 6 Series Coupe reveals itself on the vast white wall.

Dimensions: 24 metre curved wall, cone lights 870cm height, 760cm diameter
Material: Acrylic , LED

©Mark Cocksedge
©Mark Cocksedge

Sapphire Light, 2004
Originally commissioned by The Bombay Sapphire Foundation

The Saphire Light’s design involved pouring gin and tonic into a light bulb-shaped vessel and shining UV light onto the chandelier. Switched on, the clear translucent liquid is transformed into an incredible glowing blue colour. The liquid becomes the light.

Dimensions: 30cm x 30cm x 30cm (glass globe)
Material: Glass, steel, UV LED

© Tom Vack
© Tom Vack