On the hunt for the hard to come by but very popular filament light-bulbs for our home – I stumbled across a gem of a site – UK based Historic Lighting a part of an industrious family run company Urban Cottage Industries.
The simple site sells all the components you might need for your industrial lighting needs from Edison light-bulbs, light-bulb holders, a multiple outlet ceiling rose [so all of the lighting in your room can filter neatly out of one outlet] and beautiful in-house lighting designs. The right hand side of the site lets you click through to other multiple related businesses. Click through to Fabric Cable.co.uk and you will find a multitude of candy coloured cables for your lights. Hollywood Mirrors.co.uk take you through to an amazing source for theatrical mirrors and Moleskine Press a site for embossing bespoke sentiments onto Moleskins…
I was so excited and intrigued by my finds and the ingenuity of the company I had to find out more.
Launched in 2009 Urban Cottage Industries are they are the only supplier of entire vintage industrial systems and components in the UK. Selling original 1930s-1950s factory lighting (salvaged from the redundant factories and workshops of industrial Yorkshire), fixings and accessories (still made by the original manufacturers using the same techniques in the same factories since Victorian times) clients have included: Levis, Reiss, Harvey Nichols, Hermès, Jamie Oliver, Caravan, White Stuff and Soho House. I spoke to Stanley Wilson its founder…
What is Urban Cottage Industries and when was it founded?
We manufacture and supply vintage industrial lighting – durable, heavy duty products that stand the test of time. We started using the name ‘Urban Cottage Industries’ in 2008 though the roots go back much further. We work on huge projects (eg. Hollywood movies) and tiny orders (eg. a single light-bulb to illuminate your kitchen table) with equal care and passion.
How did the business arise?
I worked in concert lighting ever since leaving school. Vintage industrial lighting didn’t exist back then (I’m 36 this year) but the redundant textile mills of Yorkshire (where I’m from) were full of it. I had lighting skills and passion for rooting out the old stuff. What began as a hobby spilled over into my professional life.
Cleverly you are tapping into industrial style lighting and all the hard to access components that are so popular right now. Is this intentional? I love this sort of lighting and it is very hard to get in the UK!
It’s all been a (very gratefully received) stroke of luck – plenty of my other interests, passions and pursuits (eg. Marx’s Theory of The Decline in the Rate of Profit) have shown no signs of becoming fashionable. By creating a modular range of simple, quality products we make it possible and affordable to create lighting exactly how our customers want it. Even well known lighting brands tend to put profits first and flexibility last – sweatshop manufacturing in less developed countries, inflexible designs, cheap materials – products that are likely to break or date too quickly.
Where do you source all of your parts?
What we can source we do, what we can’t we have to manufacture ourselves. Most of what we supply is made in the UK or Europe. We avoid manufacturing locations where we would not be prepared for our own children to work – a simple rule we believe all consumers should insist on.
Why do you have different sites for each part of the collection and not one for all?
It’s just the way it unfolded, we made it up as we went along. We have no history in business. With hindsight it would probably have been more successful if we’d adopted a more conventional approach.
You seem to work on a lot of different things on your blog. What are you working on right now?
A Filament Light-bulb based rock and roll lighting stage set. We’re very excited about it.
Please tell me anything else you think I might find interesting about Urban Cottage industries!
Last year we rescued the UK’s largest collection of linotype machines from the scrap yard. Later this year we’ll be launching a high quality, vintage, British made alternative to the personalised greeting cards you see advertised on TV.
Author: Rohini Wahi
Rohini is a London based freelance journalist and trend forecaster for the design industries. She has worked for Elle Decoration, Living Etc, Houzz and Design Sponge amongst others.
She loves a period drama and keeps a tidy home. Launched in 2007 The Beat That My Heart Skipped focuses on home inspirations, design trends, lifestyle and food – coupled with an insight into Rohini’s work and home life – from key picks at trade shows to styled weekend soirees. To contact Rohini for queries, work for hire or just to say hi drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org