When it comes to lighting, Ben Rousseau knows a thing or two – his eponymous company, Rousseau Design, is making massive waves in the interiors world, and his sleek, sophisticated and seriously cool designs are hugely sought-after. Here, the handsome lighting wiz shares his top tips for using lighting effectively in your home…
What inspires you?
I’m a big fan of sci design in films, and I love transport design – my dad had a 1950’s hot rod and I love the curves of 50’s cars. The Jetsons ideal from that era is kind of what I like. I love high-tech architecture, modern sculpture and technology, fast cars and motorbikes. I watched Ex Machina recently and it was like a film straight out of my imagination. I loved it, it was made for me! In fact, it could have been made by me! I love Ken Adam, the guy who designed the early Bond sets, and I’m also really inspired by hotel design and bars and restaurants etc.
How would you describe your personal interior style?
Modern, high tech, trying to be minimal but with a practical undertone. It has elements of five-star hotel often with a retro nod. I love classic 70’s furniture and lighting mixed with modern materials and textures. I also love to use shadow on texture as much as use clever lighting on it.
What have been your career highlights to date/projects you’re most proud of?
The Ice Hotel holds a big place in my heart, I’ve built some amazing stuff there, met some amazing people and generally love working with ice and how it looks with light. Designing the Olympic torch vehicle was pretty cool and some of my furniture items really make me smile to use and see working like my globe lights and bubble chairs.
What’s the most extravagant/unusual project you’ve undertaken?
I built a sort of personal nightclub/art collection/man cave in a basement in west London which was mad. It included a laser cage around the client’s Aston Martin DB4, a custom illuminated snooker table, bar, cinema and hand-painted Insa artwork all over the covered ceiling to match the artwork on the illuminated bubble chairs we do.
Why is lighting so important in a home?
Because it makes the space, it gives a room its warmth and soul and allows for so many quick changes in rooms, with modern control having presets to flick between entertaining mode, family mode or even cleaning mode, all which require different settings and light levels. Good-quality lighting means much better energy use, much better quality of light and general well-being.
How can people be more creative with lighting in their own homes?
It’s hard for people to imagine how lighting can benefit them and enhance their property because they can’t visualise it. Once you show them how the control and quality and type of effects can show off their homes far better they are usually blown away, especially with iPad controlled interfaces etc which add the show-off element some crave. The fact the energy use can save them money and time is only actually a bonus.
What are the biggest mistakes people make when choosing a lighting scheme for their home?
The colour temperatures and levels, where to put them, how to combine them, when to use colour-changing lights and when to leave it to someone who knows what they are doing.
Where are your favourite places to shop for interiors?
I like places like the Old Cinema, Chiswick, Talisman in Fulham, Maison d’Elephant in ibiza, and places with retro pieces or reclaimed items. I like adapting old pieces but generally I make everything bespoke.
Living Etc said your designs were ‘perfect for Bond villains’. Who do you aim them at really?
People who would love to be bond villains! Mainly my customers are well-off males between 20 and 50, have their own business etc. Cool guys. My customers tend to become very good friends during the process and it’s a real joy to go back to a project and be entertained in a space or property I’ve created for them.
And on that note – which Bond could you see reclining on one of your designs and why?
Connery was my favourite bond but I’d say Goldfinger would be my favourite character to commission my services. I’d love to do a modern take on his lair! Or even a new Dr No underwater lair with a shark tank!
Find out more about Ben and his designs at www.rousseau.co.uk.
Interview by VICTORIA SMITH