Andra Munro is an award winning lighting designer creating extraordinary, sculptural pieces in porcelain.
You were previously an interior designer. What prompted you to start designing lights? I know lighting is very important, having achieved a Master’s degree in interior design and worked in hi-end projects with truly bespoke interiors. It’s also in my opinion one of the hardest aspects of the interior to get right.
Trying to find the right lighting drove me to experiment with materials and various lighting of my own. I then asked myself – what if I can create elements of lighting not merely to pull the design together but to refine the human senses, reinforcing the experience in your own personal space?
This led me to think about how to invoke certain emotions and feelings. What if you can control those emotions simply by being immersed in your surrounding with textures and light. It wasn’t long before I realised I had found my true passion and fell in love with creating beautiful porcelain light installations.
What is the appeal of working with porcelain? I always look at the true nature of the materials I use. Porcelain is a highly prized material with plasticity to form, mould, shape or cast.
Porcelain has been around since the Tang Dynasty in China. It’s a natural material that’s environmentally friendly, has translucent properties and can hold a texture for millennia. Porcelain has definitely stood the test of time – you can bury it for a thousand years, dig it up and it will look just like the day it was buried. It’s delicate and strong and you’ll find it in every palace in the world from tableware to vessels and figurines.
It’s such a versatile material, infused in history, tradition, form, function and I adore working with it, pushing the boundaries of such a classic material.
Do you consider your installations to be lights or sculpture – or a mix of both? They are definitely an emergence of both with an artistic commissioned element that’s functional as it provides various kinds of lighting. The client’s story is carved within the sculptured piece, with every piece of translucent textured porcelain being unique to that client. The overall theme, shape and location could be solely created for that one off piece. Once installed the ambiance can be controlled any time of the day or night to suit.
What is the most complicated installation you have undertaken? It’s definitely Lux Progressio (Latin for Light Evolution) which won two international lighting awards. The same piece was also a finalist at the Brit List Awards 2022 for Best British Product. This installation forms a stunning bespoke ceiling light that can actually be adapted to any luxury residence. It spans some nine metres square and it’s made up of over 3500 small handcrafted textured porcelain pieces.
Housed within the piece is an LED light source that diffuses as it passes through the translucent textured porcelain, breathing life throughout the breadth of the piece, giving it a somewhat living appearance. It has an intricate organic form, appearing like it’s growing and spreading on the ceiling. This is surfaced with textured porcelain inspired by tree bark and leaves, the clients’ everyday inspiration from their local surroundings.
This piece was complicated as it was installed onto a suspended ceiling, it had to have a flush edge to the ceiling, there were five transformers to power it and we had to work closely with the on-site contractors so the whole piece was safe and secure.
You can see more of Andra’s work here and if you enjoyed thi, you might also like my interview with Esther Patterson of Curiousa & Curiousa