Beauty & elegance: Jeremy Cole

Click to enlarge
Designer Jeremy Cole.

Designer Jeremy Cole.

1 of 7
The Aloe Bud light by Jeremy Cole.

The Aloe Bud light by Jeremy Cole.

2 of 7
The delicate Cymbidium Orchid light.

The delicate Cymbidium Orchid light.

3 of 7
Jeremy Cole's lights feature in this London apartment designed by Kelly Hoppen.

Jeremy Cole’s lights feature in this London apartment designed by Kelly Hoppen.

4 of 7
Jeremy Cole’s Aloe Blossom pendant light softens this space.

Jeremy Cole’s Aloe Blossom pendant light softens this space.

5 of 7
Jeremy Cole’s pieces are handmade in his Wellington studio.

Jeremy Cole’s pieces are handmade in his Wellington studio.

6 of 7
The Aloe Blossom Matt table lamp made from white bone china.

The Aloe Blossom Matt table lamp made from white bone china.

7 of 7

It’s been over a decade since a trip to London’s Tate Modern gallery started Jeremy Cole’s evolution from a working quantity surveyor (and aspiring carpenter) to a world-renowned artisan.  

“Ever since I was a kid, I always wanted to work with my hands,” he explains. “I registered for a carpentry apprenticeship. But, at a certain point, when I was entering the workforce that just wasn’t feasible. So I trained in something that I knew was in demand. However, I always saw it as a place-holder, not as a career. I worked as a QS for the income. I knew at some point I’d get into doing something artistic, and I would need money to get started.”

This foresight and self-belief paid off. Today, Cole’s delicate ceramic iterations of aloe and flax plants, orchid and lotus blossoms, peonies and lilies are award-winning juxtapositions of the botanical world and bespoke lighting. His small team of artisans hand-makes each piece in a Wellington studio-workshop and delivers them to an international clientele.

The Aloe Blossom Matt table lamp made from white bone china.

“I’ve finished a piece for the next Fifty Shades of Grey film. We’ve done a large project with Kelly Hoppen, and I’m getting to the point of releasing a chandelier,” Cole says. “I think I’ve pushed myself very hard for many years. Now I want to take a moment to step back, and give myself a bit more time and space to reflect.”

When designing these delicate creations, what’s the driving force? Is it process driven by the desired look of the piece, as a sculptural element; or is the impetus more about how the final iteration will affect and work within the environment it’s in?

“You have to imagine how it will work in the built environment,” Cole says. “I come from a position of absolute beauty and elegance, but I do understand that usefulness has to play a role.

“This balancing act – the craft of getting it right – is what separates me from being an artist, as opposed to an artisan. Yes, I believe I am creating works of art – I sign them and I treat them as such. At the same time, though, I completely understand that these pieces I make have a practical use (beyond being beautiful), and they must serve the purpose for which I have created them.”

In fulfilling its role as part of an overall interior composition, Cole believes that a light fixture, in whatever form “…needs to be a statement piece without taking over the room. It should be beautiful, lit or unlit. Any form of beauty is hard to capture and is elusive, but people will always notice where the light comes from.”


More people

Inside Story: Cassandra Ellis

Inside Story: Cassandra Ellis

London-based designer and furniture maker Cassandra Ellis mixes nature and timelessness in her own home. Here, she shares some of the objects she loves.
Designer interview: Warren Twisleton

Designer interview: Warren Twisleton

Striking a balance between work and play has led the owner of furniture brand Lujo, Warren Twisleton, to design a range of contemporary furniture that creates a sense of holiday at home.
Designer profile: Francis Sultana

Designer profile: Francis Sultana

Camille Khouri talked to renowned interior and furniture designer Francis Sultana about his life as a designer and his beautifully furnished apartment (featured in the current issue of Urbis).
In Focus: Michael Webb

In Focus: Michael Webb

Building Community: New Apartment Architecture is a visually arresting book with a poignant and timely theme. Vanessa Coxhead spoke to its author Michael Webb about what makes a great apartment building.
Art in all the right places

Art in all the right places

Curator Sophie Wallace returned home from her time at Pace Gallery in New York to open Hastings’ newest gallery, Parlour Projects.

Most read

Garden the blue sky

Garden the blue sky

This architect’s penthouse boasts enviable green spaces and a vertigo-inducing outdoor bath.
Homes for barter

Homes for barter

Urbis chats to the co-founders of a home exchange website aimed solely at creatives about trading their highly curated abodes with perfect strangers.
Doors wide open

Doors wide open

A designer villa in Bali, inspired by Japanese minimalism and with a strong environmental ethos, captures the essence of simplicity, luxury and relaxation.
Inside Story: Cassandra Ellis

Inside Story: Cassandra Ellis

London-based designer and furniture maker Cassandra Ellis mixes nature and timelessness in her own home. Here, she shares some of the objects she loves.
My, oh my Milan

My, oh my Milan

The Urbis selection of some of the most alluring objects from this year’s Milan Furniture Fair.
The skyline shifter

The skyline shifter

Ground is soon to be broken for The Pacifica, a soaring new apartment complex that has the ability to reinvigorate an enclave of Auckland’s downtown.
Inside story: Sid Sahrawat

Inside story: Sid Sahrawat

Award-winning chef and the mastermind behind Cassia Restaurant, Sid Sahrawat and his wife, Chand, show us the objects they love.