Flynn Talbot inhabits a unique niche within the international design industry. He’s an Aussie export and a professional lighting designer. He straddles an intersection of sectors, bringing together technical lighting and commercial design in one quadrant, and sculpture, installation and digital lighting technology in another.
He’s originally from Perth but is ultimately a global citizen, having spent time living and working in Berlin, Bali, Canada, and now London.
From early on Talbot knew his professional calling was in lighting design. His intrepid personality has allowed him to cross into the geographies and local cultures of his international clients. Here, he’s forged personal relationships with global manufacturers and design brands, which has allowed him to produce decorative lighting concepts that are both technically advanced and speak to a higher purpose.
To operate as an independent designer producing decorative lighting for the Australian industry is not a particularly lucrative path to follow. In the local market, furniture is often given precedence over lighting, and supply agreements often based around royalty cheques. Many designers produce decorative lighting as part of a larger portfolio of furniture designs, but the quality of light they produce (in the greater scheme of technical lighting) is not particularly high, says Talbot.
“Most of the time they are styling nice products and putting a light bulb in – or nowadays a LED strip,” says Talbot. “But the effect and quality of light is an important consideration.” In Talbot’s practice, effect and quality is his primary concern, forming the premise for commercial lighting products and experiential light installations that build an emotional connection with the consumer and viewer alike.
“Light is intangible,” Talbot says. “You only see it when it lights a table surface, for example. You can’t catch light in your hand. By giving a physical presence to lighting, you can build a connection with it.”
International manufacturers like Italy’s Fabbian (for whom he designed Polair and Mini Polair) and New Zealand’s Resident (the Mesh Space pendant and wall light), have taken Talbot’s rigorous approach on board to produce decorative lighting with depth. “There’s a science to light,” he says, pointing out that LED is not the simple answer to contemporary lighting solutions. The colour of light, too, can have a huge effect on humans physically, mentally and emotionally.
Highly technical and also a little bit purist in his approach, Talbot is unwilling to compromise on what he sees as quality in lighting. “It’s a mix of manufacturing capabilities, lighting technology and the feeling you can create,” he says. “If an element isn’t right, the whole thing isn’t going to work.”
He has been fortunate in finding and connecting with clients who are interested in pushing lighting beyond the decorative. To date, the relationship has been a collaborative, flexible meeting of minds, aided by Talbot’s technical understanding of lighting. Whether functional or experiential art piece, it’s about finding the balance between lighting technology and design detailing, stripping away “the fuss so you can focus on the concept”. That’s where the magic really happens.
Mesh Space designed by Flynn Talbot for Resident is available in Australia through District: district.com.au.
Photography: John Madden