Claire Norcross, Lighting Designer

Claire Norcross is an award-winning lighting designer based in Preston. Claire’s practice is closely rooted to her beginnings as a ‘designer maker’ within the craft market, and while she has produced bespoke designs and exhibitions pieces, she is best known for the commercial lighting designs for retailers such as Habitat and By making the relevant connections to manufacturing processes, Claire’s ideas have been realised in a wide range of materials, including paper, glass and metal.

What was your first memory of creativity?

I had an imaginary friend called Rhoda. She lived under the sink and I remember talking to her while my mum was doing the washing up. Then I think we got mice in the house and they lived under the sink, so I never spoke to Rhoda again! The first thing I remember making at school was a rock which I painted to look like a mouse. The teacher was very impressed as I didn’t get a very good shaped rock, but I still managed to turn it into something. I still have it at the studio.

What was your creative journey to get to where you are?

I took a fairly formal education path in my creative journey. A-level art, Foundation course and then degree. My degree is in embroidery, which is less formal for someone who has ended up designing products. However the fascination I have with light as a medium comes from investigations with light and how it reacts with materials, whether that be paper, glass or metal. A key development point for me came following my degree whilst I was on the ‘Setting up Scheme’ from the then North West Arts Board. It was during this time that I developed the Eight-Fifty and began to think of more functional outcomes to my sculptural textile forms.

What impact have big name clients had on your career?


Design Museum

John Lewis

How do you establish your own style over a period of time and still stay relevant?

I have always been inspired by natural and organic form, looking at the structures within nature, the geometry of plants and flowers. Making the connection between the visual influence and a manufacturing process or material ensures that they stay relevant to the contemporary market.

Does your process develop thematically, or is it more distinctive and random?

I think that personal projects and products have always developed from quite random starting points, inspiration can strike at any time! However, there are kind of boundaries which enable the ideas to progress in a more formal process.

What inspires you or provokes the motivation towards creativity within?

Difficult to put a finger on one particular thing which sparks your imagination. Sometimes it’s a collection of momentum which you have been gathering for some time. Sometimes it’s just the desire to make something. Sometimes it’s the desire to make something for someone else. Sometimes it’s the desire to rethink how light is used within a space.

Which artists do you admire or inspires you the most?

Photographer Karl Blossfeldt for the incredible sense of form in his images of plants.

What is it you love most about what you do?

I love the beginnings of a project, the starting point, the part where I feel that I get to go out and look at the world with a conscious creative vision and awareness to my surroundings. Perhaps this is the way I always look at the world anyway, but sometimes it feels like I make a decision to switch my eyes on.

Event Details: Conversations in Creativity (6.30pm) 4 May – Blackburn Cathedral