The Creative Space: Lee Grieve, Lighting Designer for Northern Lights

A new year has arrived and we continue our successful series, The Creative Space.Lee_portrait web

We kick things off by speaking with one of Northern Lights, lighting designers, Lee Grieve. He joined the company in 2015, and loves the focus the company has on bespoke, decorative fittings. He loves retro fittings and was particularly inspired by a recent project of theirs…

So Lee, Can you tell us about this space and why it inspired you?

Northern lights have designed and manufactured light fittings for a myriad of inspirational spaces; international hotel chains to private homes, vast shopping malls to charming local eateries, so I’m a little bit spoilt for choice!

For me though, the Crystal Symphony cruise ship stands out from Northern Lights diverse portfolio of work. It’s the challenges, design restrictions and limitations that make a space interesting. Without boundaries, design has the potential to become mundane.CrystalSymphonyNov2017025 webWorking with numerous contractor teams and AD Associates, Northern lights designed public space fittings that could deal with the usual visual and functional constraints such as: Budgets, tight lead times, aesthetics and ease of installation. But on top of these, Northern lights had to deal with the low ceilings that are frequently found on cruise ship refurbishments. All the while still giving the impression of grandeur and a sense of a scale that matched the huge ship. The real challenge the space presented was the risk of vibration noise. Looking at solutions already in place on other ships, we weren’t happy with the ‘fill it with silicone’ solution that seemed to be offered. This resulted in us engineering and developing fixings that were designed to last, easy to install and had no chance of vibration.

CrystalSymphonyNov2017022 webOne of the areas contained a lot of polished brass trims, something which may have seemed dated when paired with the existing light fittings. But I feel working with ‘real’ materials gives the chance to build character into a space and the trims were given a new lease of life when paired with our modern feature pendants.

Visiting the cruise ship while in dry dock for refurbishment and absorb the space was eye-opening. Overseeing the installation, seeing our craftsmen’s and designer’s hard work come together and finish off the interior makes all the effort worthwhile.  Even more so when it recently won the ‘Cruise Critics Editors Pick Award for Best Refurbishment’.

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About Kate Nannery

Kate is a freelance writer for Design Insider. She thinks that the beauty of design comes from great craftsmanship and has a masters degree in tea-consumption. If you would like to appear in Design Insider, please email
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