How did Innermost come about? “Russell [Cameron] and I met in 1994 while we were working in London and the idea today is pretty much unchanged from what we had then. In London, we met a ton of young designers who had amazing products but didn’t have production [capability]. We decided that if we grouped some of those talents together, we could build an interesting range. We were looking for new concepts, anything that had an air of innovation to it. Over the years we honed that down and decided our specialisation would be lighting.”
Do all the ideas still come out of London? “That’s the thing that changed. All comers are welcome, and now our designers are from all over the world – America, Finland, Britain, France, Germany, Australia and Hong Kong. It’s a very international offering, designing mainly for hospitality and residential. Furniture still accounts for 15 per cent of our business, and it’s growing, but lighting is the story of the moment.”
How would you describe the DNA of your lighting? “Focusing on innovation, we’re looking for something that will appeal to architects and designers. We like witty ideas, to create a story, [making] something that makes people smile. The YOYWall is a great point – it’s a light that projects its own lampshade. We met its two young Japanese designers at their booth at SaloneSatellite, in Milan, showing a prototype, and it was mobbed. Their designs were all based around optical illusion. That kind of playful nature appeals to us.”
How does the Yoywall work? “It’s a clever mix of hi- and lo-tech, using a state-of-the-art LED chip, and old-school physical shapes that project light.
Where is it all headed? “We’re almost at the point now where if you can dream it, you can build it. Light is programmable in the same way you can programme an app.
“Over the next 10 years lighting will change completely. There’s a lot of research being done into human-centred lighting – using light to create either better feeling or better health. In 10 years you may buy a light that has intelligence built in. When you put it in your bedroom, for instance, it will know that it’s in the bedroom, and also what time it is, and can adjust the colour tone of light accordingly. The really new thing is Li-fi – the idea of data transmission via light, so massively faster than Bluetooth. Within the frequency of light there are bands that can be used to send data – your light bulb may well be taking your Skype call in 10 years’ time.”
Where can we see Innermost installations in Hong Kong? “We’ve just done the flagship store for Hong Kong Telecom, in Wellington Street – they’ve got a beautiful installation with our Beads chandeliers. We did the Gaucho restaurant, in Central, last year and a new restaurant, Hei House, in Wan Chai – it was a mix of standard designs and a bespoke chandelier based on traditional ceramics.