Claire Norcross 28th Jan 11

Award-winning designer specialising in lighting.
The first talk given by a practising artist/ designer was a great experience and acknowledgment of tenacity required to succeed in an ever-changing world. 
It was also refreshing to hear another practitioner’s history and journey.
Graduating twelve years ago from Manchester University in embroidery BA(Hons), Claire approached her future career with no initial objective and subsequently allowed events and opportunities guide her path. Probably the best approach any graduate/ designer could have?
She now seems to have adopted the title “Lighting Designer,” but maintains her ethics/ ethos as “challenging Manufactures” with design and originality.
She seems incredibly excited with the prospect of using recycled products in her work, transforming everyday objects into top-end designer art.
Experiencing varied means of media, materials and influences, Claire’s work takes on a life of its own. Her natural inspiration comes from organic forms, such as “Aperture”,  this sculptural paper shade was inspired by the nature of a pine cone and its ability to open and close according to the weather conditions.
The user is able to open each aperture on the light to direct the light and create different effects as seen below”. Designed for Habitat, 2003. The shade is produced in two different sizes, 58cm diameter and 32cm diameter.
Another sculpture demonstrating her originality and creativeness is “Eight-Fifty” This was one of the original versions of the Eight-Fifty which was made from nylon cable ties, dyed to the required colour.
Clair has gained a great wealth of experience, either through travelling to Australia and other foreign destinations, but also through her hands on approach, style and development. I personally find her openness refreshing, knowing that she has allowed opportunities to guide her creativeness. Making items that occasionally had no functionality yet embodied her understanding and aesthetics.
There was also the realisation and confirmation for those listening that working for a well-known company wasn’t always the route to fame and fortune.
Having worked for habitat, Claire misunderstood the old saying “you’ll earn a royalty on all the sales”. Unfortunately this actually meant 3% based on the wholesale cost and not the retail cost. A valued warning to anyone who thinks working with the big boys always pay’s. Working for Habitat, Claire found it a fast paced job with high-end designer influence.
Working with CAD and ‘old school’ drawing skills. It’s this area of traditional art experience that i personally value and appreciate, even if i find it difficult to put pencil to paper myself.
Claire has rigorously worked with art galleries and design enterprises allowing designers such as herself to find a public space to exhibit and sell work, such as the NCP car park behind Kendall’s Manchester. Originality in approaching the public whilst having a great day too. Other art forums include the Waremark Studios and 100% design, showcasing North-West artists.
Following text from Claires website:
Graduating with a BA(Hons) in Embroidery isn’t the usual route into a career in lighting design but with a desire to see the effect of light on materials and childish fear of the dark Claire stumbled into the world of lighting design with her serendipitous Eight-Fifty light made from cable ties.

Claire’s design process is more related to that of a designer-maker. The personal inspiration behind her forms comes largely from the natural world, whether that be sea anemones, plant stems or the super-scaling of nature to contain light. Her inspiration is then translated into the appropriate medium, whether that be paper, boroscilicate glass or stainless steel.

Between 2001-2004 Claire undertook an artist in residency position at Object in Sydney, Australia and exhibited both nationally and internationally, as well as lecturing part-time at UCLan. She also curated and project managed two exhibitions in the north west, Pay and Display, supported by the Design Initiative and Inner City Living, supported by Preston City Council, a design showcase for England’s newest city, Preston, where she now lives.

Claire continued to develop her work with Habitat and in 2004 she was appointed as the in-house lighting designer, a position she held for three years. Her work developed a commercial edge and encompassed the whole collection, covering a wide range of materials and lighting technologies.

In 2009 Claire was selected for the highly prestigious Jerwood Contemporary Makers Exhibition. Claire returned to working in paper, a material she has a great affinity with, to produce Bloom 296, a highly crafted and multi-layered piece made solely from paper.

So where to now…
Claire is currently designing a number of small capsule collections for commercial suppliers, as well as working with Lancaster City Council to develop her proposal for Illumination: a contemporary lighting festival for Morecambe. This project provides new creative, technological and logistical challenges, set by the boundaries of its public