One day, the Belgian lighting expert, Tom Claeys of Claeys Verlichting, attended an exhibition and was excited by the work of a ceramic artist that he saw there. He felt that an artist who could make such pieces would also make stunning lights. So he and Goedel Vermandere, with her partner Jan Arickx, pooled their relevant skills and the result is the Belgian lighting company, Coup de Foudre.
Their showrooms/workshop/home is a charming town house in Kortrijk -- home of the excellent biennial Interieur trade fair, of course, but also very Eurostar-friendly for anyone based in London, being just half an hour from Lille International.
There lighting is primarily made out of porcelain -- a wonderful material for this purpose because it adds such warmth. Though hard when it has set, the way the shapes are hand-formed results in a softness, a gentleness -- a cosiness.
And cosiness will become the most important attribute of any light used in domestic surroundings. Why? Because most of the time that we spend indoors is whilst it is dark and, in the winter, cold. Politicians are outlawing incandescent lamps, and many dwellings are now being built with no fireplace (imagine!) so, unless we specify for cosiness, people will live in dank, grey fluorescent light and everybody will be miserable. So cosiness matters! And so we need to be able to specify the porcelain lights of Coup de Foudre!! Anyway...
...this is like a fire when you first come across it...
...and fascinating when you then see it close up...
...every single piece being made separately, by hand, with the effects of light and shadow adding form and depth.
The setting (below) in which this large version of CFLU finds itself reminds us how well a natural, organic material like porcelain works with other natural materials -- the clay of the bricks, the wood of the beams, the unbleached cloth of the upholstery:
Yes, it is usually dark when we are indoors, so lights tend to be on. But it is no good if they only look good when lit. The rectangular CFLURE looks great on...
...and it also looks great off:
The adaptability of these strong simple porcelain shapes is shown by how well this design fits into a panelled room...
...as much as it does into a more contemporary, Asian-inspired space:
We particularly like CFSWD, which you can see at the head of this post, and here:
The top part of this rectangular pendant light is quite formal, squares of porcelain being mounted side-by-side to make a frieze. But below them -- out of them -- hangs a dense array of fabric-like, fluttering sheets.
We also love these carpets of delicate, feminine roses, used in several of the lights in their showroom, including a wonderful small ceiling light:
As with any artist, it means so much more if you get the chance to meet them -- and even to see them work. Well, Kortijk is very accessible. But, in the meantime, do watch the film on their web site here.
They also make wonderful jewellery, using additional materials -- bark, copper, stainless steel -- to recall the natural forms that you might see at the beach. You can see a selection here.