Light­ing man­u­fac­turer Charles Ed­wards

Country Life Every Week - - Interior Design -

Prior to the ad­vent of low-en­ergy light­bulbs, any­one trav­el­ling down the King’s road in Lon­don SW6 might have been for­given for think­ing that Charles Ed­wards was con­sum­ing more than his fair share of the Na­tional Grid’s out­put in the two shops ablaze with his cre­ations. An an­tiques dealer since leav­ing uni­ver­sity, he was in­spired by his mother, who used to cater largely to Amer­i­cans (‘at that time, they were bet­ter at pay­ing than Bri­tish clients’). ‘i ab­sorbed a lot of knowl­edge from her with­out re­ally re­al­is­ing it.’

How­ever, it was a con­ver­sa­tion with the Amer­i­can in­te­rior de­signer David Eas­ton that trig­gered an idea to ex­pand into man­u­fac­tur­ing. ‘He asked if he could have six of a par­tic­u­lar an­tique lantern that i had on dis­play. i ex­plained that more would be hard to track down, so he asked why didn’t i make them my­self—and so it be­gan.’

Af­ter spend­ing a year ex­plor­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers—a task made more ar­du­ous by the fact that he in­sisted his repli­cas should be made of brass rather than pressed alu­minium—he landed on a work­shop in Wim­ble­don. ‘i felt then, and still feel now, that the la­bel “Made in Bri­tain” means some­thing and i get a lot of sat­is­fac­tion know­ing that i’m gen­er­at­ing em­ploy­ment lo­cally.’

The col­lec­tion, which is in­spired by 19th- and 20th-cen­tury English, French and Amer­i­can de­signs—the lat­ter dis­tin­guish­able for be­ing bolder—now tops 440 de­signs. one of the best sell­ers is Blake, a lantern he de­signed for Anoushka Hem­pel’s ho­tel in South Kens­ing­ton; other de­signs can be seen at The Lanes­bor­ough and Kens­ing­ton Palace.

Since he started the busi­ness in 1992, one over­ar­ch­ing trend that’s emerged is size. ‘Whether it’s to do with wealth cre­ation or de­signs of new houses, we’ve been sell­ing big­ger and big­ger lanterns. The largest to date was a 7ft-tall model, which was sent to hang in the porch of a house in Kuwait.’ Arabella Youens (020–7736 8490; www.charlesed­wards.com)

Pho­to­graph by Richard Can­non

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