Choose wood for lighting

Designers are using much more wood for decorative lighting, and not just for the stands. From the elaborate to the pared down and minimal, wood is a surprisingly versatile material for lights

Small Skipper pendant tom raffield

Tom Raffield's small Skipper Pendant has a curvaceous silhouette and it casts bold shadows on walls and ceilings. Choose from sustainable ash, oak or walnut. £495. Based in Cornwall, Tom started making lights using of-cuts of planed wood from his studio floor. 


Wood for decorative lighting isn't something we're used to. While we do expect lamp stands being made from wood, when it comes to the pretty part of the piece, the shade or the pendant, we take it for granted that they'll be covered with fabric or made from plastics.

So if you're pondering how eco-friendly a beautiful light can be, other than fitting it with an LED bulb, the answer is very, if you choose wood.

Tom Raffield is a furniture designed based in the depths of a seven-acre wood near Helstone, and he's been enjoying huge success with his unusual, sculptural, exuberant lights made from steam-bent wood. He hit the circuit so to speak with his No1 Pendant, a striking piece that is a froth of curvaceous strips of ash, oak or walnut.

No1 table lamp,
Mullion floor lamp in oak by Tom Raffield
Chou wood veneer pendants by Valencia-based LZF
Agatha wood veneer pendant, one of LZF's best sellers.
Check out vintage sites. Hans-Agne Jakobsson wood Pumpkin lamp, 1960s, at

'I developed our lighting fixtures after thinking about what to do with the many off-cuts of wood left over from making our furniture. Thin strips of planed wood can give you those lovely curved peels, and when you hold them up to the light, it emanates through the grain.

'Light woods such as ash and sycamore are actually very reflective and give a soft golden glow, while walnut gives a darker but still golden glow.'

Raffield's lighting collection grows apace and he can't just rely on off-cuts, so he uses FSC woods from the UK (some from Cornwall) and Europe, while he's experimenting with wood coppiced on his own woodland.

'I think wood is a perfect material for lighting because it is sustainable, and with steam bending you can create many interesting shapes.. and because we make our lights by hand, no two products are ever exactly the same.'

He adds that because solid wooden furniture is very expensive, a light is a way of enjoying wood in the home at a fraction of the cost, since much less wood is needed to make a product.

LZF of Valencia

LZF started making contemporary lights from natural wood veneers in 1994 and is considered something of a pioneer of the genre. While still a small company, it's built up a strong fan base around the world.

LZF has always worked with wood veneers, creating delightful, intriguing and sometimes whimsical designs that reiterate that good lighting can be works of art as well as a functional objects. LZF lights start at around £200 and can be bought in the UK at Do Shop and Willie Duggan Lighting.


Krools Babula light with oak base, £219 at
Shully pendant by 7Gods, £150, available through Heal's,
Spanish designer Arik Levy's Bamboo Light for Forestier, from £207
Tom Rossau's beech wood TR5 Nature Pendant, around £450
Floral Pendant made from wood, by New Zealand designer David Trubridge
London based 7gods lighting love to use wood for their lighting
 Finland's Secto Designs' large Octo 4240 pendant. Made from laminated strips of birch or walnut

Oak or beech curvaceously slender pendants can be hung individually, or in a group, while there's also a table lamp with a wooden base and a ceramic top - perfect for bedside tables or where a little extra light is needed. Krools will ship to the UK.

Danish designers have always been keen on wood, including Tom Rossau, whose wood veneer pendants add a contemporary elegance to rooms. His products are available in the UK as are classic pieces from Finland's Secto Designs' such as its Octo 4240 pendant. Made from laminated strips of birch or walnut, it's an impressive piece, H68xD54cms. 

'It's hard to mass produce using wood veneer, so you tend to get more unusual, bespoke products'

North London design company 7Gods has been working for some years with maple, cedar and walnut veneers. Creative director Ronald Gomes says the public are starting to like wood veneer lights because they have a bespoke look: 'Its hard to mass produce in wood veneer, so you tend to get more unusual products.'

And while large pendants can run into hundreds of pounds, many products, though not Ikea-cheap, are comparatively affordable.

Also check out New Zealand designer David Trubridge, whose intricate wooden pendants are available at Made In Design and Spanish brands Santa & Cole and B Lux, both of which have lights made from wood.

Once you start looking, it's easy to see the wood from the trees...

Read more: LZF's eco story