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August 12, 2010

Alex Randall is not your typical lighting designer. In lieu of new materials, the British lighting designer raids salvage yards and taxidermy shops to create truly innovative and often creepy 'bespoke' lighting installations. Whether you find them magnetic or repellent—or, most likely, a seductive mixture of the two—you won't soon forget her Rat Lamp or Squirrel Wall Lights, both of which debuted at The Future Perfect in New York during ICFF.

Randall's Squirrel Wall Lamp debuted at The Future Perfect in New York at ICFF last spring.
Randall's Squirrel Wall Lamp debuted at The Future Perfect in New York at ICFF last spring.
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Another view of the Squirrel Lamp.
Another view of the Squirrel Lamp.
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The Gramophone Chandelier, made from antique brass horns and available in custom sizes. Photo by Claire Rosen.
The Gramophone Chandelier, made from antique brass horns and available in custom sizes. Photo by Claire Rosen.
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A closer look at the Gramophone Chandelier.
A closer look at the Gramophone Chandelier.
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The Circular Chain Chandelier is made from over 100 meters of chain, with a salvaged copper ships' lamp in the center.
The Circular Chain Chandelier is made from over 100 meters of chain, with a salvaged copper ships' lamp in the center.
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Of the Taxidermy Squirrel Lights, Randall writes: "The grey squirrel is yet another display of the devastation caused by humans introducing an alien species to our already sensitive ecosystem." Photo by Claire Rosen.
Of the Taxidermy Squirrel Lights, Randall writes: "The grey squirrel is yet another display of the devastation caused by humans introducing an alien species to our already sensitive ecosystem." Photo by Claire Rosen.
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Here's the notorious Rat Swarm Desk Lamp, which also debuted at ICFF last spring.
Here's the notorious Rat Swarm Desk Lamp, which also debuted at ICFF last spring.
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Randall created these Pigeon Pendants for a store in East London, as a way of celebrating the birds' under-appreciated beauty: the shimmering green and purple on their neck, the thousands of minute feathers on the underside of their wings and tail, and th
Randall created these Pigeon Pendants for a store in East London, as a way of celebrating the birds' under-appreciated beauty: the shimmering green and purple on their neck, the thousands of minute feathers on the underside of their wings and tail, and the camouflaging stripes along their backs. Photo by Claire Rosen.
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A single Pigeon Pendant.
A single Pigeon Pendant.
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Here's the Partridge Dance Chandelier, surrounded by hounds. Photo by Claire Rosen.
Here's the Partridge Dance Chandelier, surrounded by hounds. Photo by Claire Rosen.
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Here's a table lamp made from a flurry of 50 butterflies, hovering above a pesticide canister.
Here's a table lamp made from a flurry of 50 butterflies, hovering above a pesticide canister.
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The Sanctuary Chandelier incorporates an original, solid brass church light from the 19th Century, in a neo-gothic style. Photo by Claire Rosen.
The Sanctuary Chandelier incorporates an original, solid brass church light from the 19th Century, in a neo-gothic style. Photo by Claire Rosen.
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This light is made from a rusty old tea chest that Randall discovered in a warehouse in Devon. "The idea for these pieces came from the unpeeling of an orange," says Randall. "It just goes to show you never know where or when inspiration will strike."
This light is made from a rusty old tea chest that Randall discovered in a warehouse in Devon. "The idea for these pieces came from the unpeeling of an orange," says Randall. "It just goes to show you never know where or when inspiration will strike."
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Randall's Squirrel Wall Lamp debuted at The Future Perfect in New York at ICFF last spring.
Randall's Squirrel Wall Lamp debuted at The Future Perfect in New York at ICFF last spring.

Since her work raises more questions than it answers, Randall was gracious enough to supply some responses to my emailed queries. Her answers touch on everything from where she finds inspiration to her wildest recent commission: a flock of pigeon lights for a Kiwi client who wanted to "add drama with some taxidermy." For more of her work—and some truly wild photo shoots—check out the slideshow above.

Why I became a lighting designer:
I started making lighting after I finished my MA in professional writing. I was very aware of the boundaries between art and design and always felt the art I created should actually ‘do’ something. Lighting is such a fundamental part of our lives and such an important one design-wise I knew it was the subject I wanted to focus on.
Design inspirations:
Whether it be an object, a place, a person or even a piece of music, inspiration for me comes in all forms. It may not be ‘in vogue’ but more likely ‘in situ’ around us. Today I’ve been inspired by a dead swallow we found in the workshop, and the photographer (and my great friend) Claire Rosen.
Where I find my raw materials:
I never know when or where I’m going to find the next material. It could be in a salvage yard or a field. I try to use as many local resources as possible; one of my favorites is the Ministry of Defense’s reclamation in Plymouth where I find all sorts of bizarre instruments. I recently found a piece of old spitfire engine whilst I was hiking in the mountains of Wales which I’m attempting to recover.
Favorite commission:
I recently completed a piece for a client in New Zealand. He was designing a glass-house on the coast and wanted to add drama with some taxidermy. We created a huge flock of European Jays that take flight through the entrance of the building. It was great because he was so committed to the piece and really connected with it on an emotional level.
Most difficult commission:
Not so much a commission but one of the most difficult experiences with my work was during one of my photo shoots with Claire Rosen. We arranged to shoot at Bodmin Jail in Cornwall but when we arrived realized we were short on scaffolding. It took six hours to hang the flock of pigeons in the desired location; at which time I had to change into a silk dress and model in the ‘calmest’ way possible!
Dream commission: 
I love vast public spaces, especially those which can invoke emotions in people. For that reason I would say St Paul’s Cathedral.
What I'm working on now:
I’m currently working on a lighting scheme for a bar in Dalston, East London. It’s a fascinating but grimy area veined by Georgian canals where artists and old immigrants meet over a Turkish coffee or in the Caribbean street market. I’m also preparing for London Design Week at the end of September where I will be showing at Tent in the Truman Brewery.
What's next:
In November I will be showing in San Francisco for the first time. The interior designer Ken Fulk has invited me to show within his studio and I can’t wait to unveil my pieces on the West Coast of the US. There will be a mini-retrospective of pieces including classics like ‘The Gramophone Chandelier’ and brand-new works including ‘The Carriers,’ a flock of pigeons carrying one large spiny ball of light.
If I wasn't a lighting designer I'd be:
Possibly a film maker. I write all the time; short stories, poems, scripts...I find it really helps me to express myself creatively in a hurry.

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