THE LIGHT CONDUCTOR

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Man in a Suit: Georgia Grimond meets Paul Cocksedge, an electrical designer with a bright future...

From INTELLIGENT LIFE magazine, September/October 2012

THE MAN
The label "lighting designer" isn't one Paul Cocksedge likes; and it doesn't do his work justice. Light is just one material he uses to bring his elegant, intelligent ideas to life. "Light's wonderful," he explains; "there's still so much mystery around it." He toys with this mystery, employing unusual conductors – a pencil line drawn on paper, or a flower – to complete electrical circuits and baffle viewers. But it is by no means the extent of his talents. 

"Styrene" (above) is a dappled, honeycombed ball with a naked bulb at its centre. It has a warm glow, a mesmeric pattern, and is all the more intriguing for being made from polystyrene cups. At 24, Cocksedge was given a brief by his tutors at the Royal College of Art in London to "grow" a product. His instinct was that there was air in the soft plastic of cups, so they would shrink and harden if baked in an oven. It worked; he had a new, cheap material to work with, a beautiful installation and the start of a promising career.  

Since then, Cocksedge has spent nine years co-running his own practice. He's wary of "hyper-clumsy" design, preferring playful pieces, often intended for public spaces and encouraging human interaction. For "Kiss", in Christmas 2009, Cocksedge lined the central dome of Milan's main shopping arcade with a sparkling blue LED-light canopy and hung an oversized piece of mistletoe down to head height. When couples held the mistletoe and kissed, the circuit closed, turning on the lights. There was more to it than romance: Cocksedge persuaded sponsors to donate €1 for every kiss, raising around €100,000 for charity. Ingenious, inclusive, "Kiss" sums up its maker. 

In person, Cocksedge has big, questioning eyes, a friendly, interested manner, and is clearly itching to get on. He relishes the idea of putting out a collection every year, saying that "working like a fashion designer would be ideal". For the moment, though, he is concentrating on his recently opened online shop, and a list of future projects that includes music, men's underwear, interiors and architecture. He won't be called just a lighting designer for much longer. 

THE SUIT
Cocksedge admits to an interest in fashion, preferring tailoring made in Italy "rather than China". What did he make of this royal-blue corduroy suit from Reiss? "I wouldn't usually go for cord," he said, "but it looked good and it worked." The ochre jumper surprised him – but in a good way. "Men think they know their colour," he said. "We don't. We are not very adventurous." And there was a chance, he thought, that the colour was inspired by light. How fitting that would be.

THE DETAILS
Cotton corduroy "Schroader" blazer, £225 ($425), and trousers, £95 ($180), both by Reiss; mustard wool/alpaca jumper, £170 ($250), and burgundy brogue boots, £415 ($605), both by APC; white V-neck T-shirt, £35 ($55), by All Saints; Tangente Datum watch with sapphire crystal back, £1,640 ($2,610), by Nomos Glashütte; "Styrene" lamp, £597, by Paul Cocksedge Studio

Georgia Grimond is letters editor of Intelligent Life

Photographer Daniel Swallow
Stylist Crystal McClory
Stylist's assistant Charlene Sandy