Finding the perfect match. Part one.

Following on from our previous blog,
‘Light of our life’, we wanted to move onto finding the perfect match – a new hat for our soda siphons…


Finding a lampshade is so personal and can be equally tricky. That said it can give you a wonderful opportunity to be bold, and to inject a splash of colour. But it doesn’t come without its pitfalls and lots of mistakes and lessons to be learnt.

We have spent the last few weeks working away with six incredible lampshade designers. We sent both sizes of our soda siphon lamps to each designer and without any influence from us we let them experiment pairing the bases with their shades. The results have been brilliant, so completely different and original. It was really exciting each time to see all the variations set in different interior environments.

It is so important to look at things through a fresh pairs of eyes and this was no exception. Over this blog and the next two we are going to introduce you to the host of designers we have been working with.

Meet the Makers

First up Hilly at Samarkand Design
  1. What first sparked your love of lampshades?
    Although I worked in a completely different field before starting Samarkand Design – I had always been interested in design and had felt frustrated at the lack of choice available when it came to lampshades – so when it came to starting in 2014 I wanted to have a change of direction and pursue my love of textiles – and one day I hit upon the idea of combining the two – literally ‘a lightbulb moment’.  I do think lighting is so important in design – and the choice of lampshade can completely change the mood and look of a room.
  2. We would love at least one ‘failsafe’ tip for our clients when choosing the correct size of lampshade?
    Choosing the correct size of a lampshade is notoriously difficult because som much of it comes down to personal taste and the context – but as a rule of thumb the diameter of the bottom of the shade should roughly equate to the height of the lamp – EXCEPT – if the lamp is very thin in which case it should be about a half to two thirds.  If you want to learn more about this you can see my blog click here
  3. What is the most important element to choosing the fabric for your lampshades?
    When we are choosing sarees for our shades – and this is probably the most fun part of my job – we go through literally hundreds of sarees – discarding and then honing down until we get possibly 20 after many hours.  We are always looking for soft colours which will work well in European homes – although we throw into the mix some stand-out vibrant designs.  We are also looking for good quality, unmarked sarees of the right opacity.  We also have to avoid anything which won’t work on the diagonal or with gold  (Zari – often from Varanasi) or silver embellishment – and our Indian suppliers are still amazed by this as sarees with gold in them are highly valued!
    We also work with block printers in Jaipur to design prints which have a fresh, often more informal look than the sarees, using  a more contemporary palette.  Our shibori dyed Tussar silk is also dyed for us in Jaipur – the wavy, organic design created by this method of dying is reminiscent of the ripples you find on a sandy beach.
  4. We would love a recommendation of something to read, a book or blog or even a podcast to listen to, as we fell escapism is more important than ever at the moment?
    I’ve just finished reading ‘Red Strangers’ by Elspeth Huxley – an extraordinary novel about a Kikuyu family and how their lives have changed during the early 20th century with the arrival of the British in Kenya.  Although sadly now out of print, it’s possible to get on Abe Books or similar – and really is a wonderful read and took me to a different time and place.
  5. What is the first thing you plan to do as soon as the lockdown is lifted?
    One of the things the lockdown has taught me is to value what we have here – the beauty of the landscape, the space we are so fortunate to have around us – and time with my family who aren’t normally here for such a long period so I am one of the fortunate ones!  And normally I would be rushing to escape to visit a new place but I don’t really feel like that.  I miss seeing friends and loved ones so I look forward to having a long, lazy lunch in the garden, in the sunshine with friends some day hopefully not too far away.
    Thank you so much Hilly for taking the time and we very much look forward to meeting you. See below some of Hilly’s stunning photographs and links to her shades are on our webshop.




























Next up Jane at The Lampshade Loft who I am very excited to be in conversation with at 10am on Saturday morning 16th May 2020.

  1. What first sparked your love of lampshades?
    I used to be a marketing director in book publishing and then moved sectors to charity and finance. The last one wasn’t really creative enough for me, so I enrolled on a course at Kingston College to learn how to make soft furnishings, as I have always been passionate about Interiors and fabrics. It was a fabulously creative place, and before I knew it I had signed up to do a two year City & Guilds in advanced soft furnishings and Creative Design. One of the modules was learning how to make hand sewn lampshades using only traditional methods. I was hooked! We learnt how to make everything including an array of trims, all about the best fabrics to use, and how to use fabric designs to get the best look for your lighting. I eventually set up The Lampshade Loft, my small studio where I hand make my shades for customers as well as for my online shop. I am always looking to make different shades in different ways. I now teach the skill myself and love sharing the shade knowledge!
  2. We would love at least one ‘failsafe’ tip for our clients when choosing the correct size of lampshade?
    There are so many different types and styles of lamp base it’s hard to have strict rules, but I do think that the shade looks best when it’s around one third of the height of the base and shade together.
  3. What is the most important element to choosing the fabric for your lampshades?
    Think about what the lighting will be when the shade is lit up – if too thin a fabric you may see the bulb when lit, or too thick such as velvet – they look amazing but give hardly any light. Silk is fabulous for gathered and pleated shades but its difficult to use for the hard laminated shades, it hates being stuck down, and will pop away. However there are some lovely faux silks around now (such as Astor by JamesHare). Think about if you wish to have the pattern compliment the other soft furnishing choices in your room or if you want a statement piece such as a sari gathered shade – a lampshade like this can make a stunning impact.
  4. We would love a recommendation of something to read, a book or blog or even a podcast to listen to, as we fell escapism is more important than ever at the moment?
    I recently listened to a fantastic novel (abridged) on BBC Sounds called Adults by Jane Unsworth – its about a 35 year old woman trying to find her place in the world and is both funny and sad but mainly hugely entertaining! I have also discovered the books of Anita Brookner, and as she has written so many its lovely to know I can carry on being inspired by such wonderful narrative and literary writing for some time.
  5. What is the first thing you plan to do as soon as the lockdown is lifted?
    See my daughter – it’s really hard not giving and getting hugs when you are so close to someone. We are also going to have a joint party with our neighbours, we have lived here for 14 years and this crisis has definitely enabled us to get to know each other!
    Again a huge thank you to Jane for taking the time to work with us and also answer our questions.
    See below some of Jane’s stunning lampshades.



























Finally we’d like to mention that we have recently acquired a new slightly larger soda siphon base and these are available in a choice of three new marks:

PW – Peter Walker & Company Ltd

C&C Club – Cantrell & Cochrane Ltd or Hooper Struve

And of course our original soda siphons are available in either Britvic or Rawlings

To see the soda siphons bases and lamp shade designs that are for sale please go to this link here for all the information: which will be updated daily until Sunday with our last designer.

Do also feel free to get in touch and ask any questions.

With much love Annie & Anna x

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