Your Interview Sally Stephenson
Introduce yourself (name, company, position, country) and tell us how you got into lighting design (including education/qualifications).
I am Sally Stephenson, Director of Owl Lighting in the UK.
My husband’s health-centric design and build lighting company was frequently approached to advise on residential lighting projects, and in 2005 I set up Owl Lighting for those projects.
Tell us about your work – is there a specific type of project you like to work on or an area you specialise in and why?
We are based in the Hampshire countryside, surrounded by heritage houses, listed properties and barn conversions and so those are what we specialise in. Often clients & architects, come to us with projects that, on the face of it, are complicated to light and we love to find solutions and creatively light listed properties with sensitivity.
Like most designers we are involved on our projects for long periods of time and get to know our clients extremely well. Residential projects are unique in that we are invited into a client’s personal space & life – and we must communicate clearly to convey our vision, but also listen! I love the excitement of a new project and getting to know the house, new client, architect & team.
What project are you most proud of and why?
I am particularly proud of our process of understanding how a client lives within their house and delivering a lighting scheme uniquely for them.
Last year we were approached by one of our landscape architects contacts to create the lighting for her first Main Avenue show garden at the Chelsea Flower Show. It was an exciting few months of designing & planning ending in a build during a wet week in May. All hands on deck, 16 hour days, and everyone tripping over each other to install lighting, plant trees and install water features at the same time. It was exhausting but exciting and rewarding – particularly as the garden & lighting were featured by the BBC.
What is the biggest challenge that you have overcome in your career?
When I started my working life in the film industry, the working culture was very different to today and most departments, except for HR, were headed by men. Senior women Producers & Directors were quite rare but I was lucky to work with some of the best and learnt a lot from them.
How does light inspire you?
Light is everywhere and always an inspiration. As I type this I am looking out at fields that have turned bright green under a deep blue sky – the scene changes every day and that is the transformative quality of light.
What is your message for other Women In Lighting?
Create, innovate, and go for it!