Expert Advice: Nigel Finnimore, Designer (Castlight)

Outdoor lighting must complement both home and garden, says Nigel Finnimore of Castlight

How did you get your start?

I began as a horticulturist and segued into designing and creating landscapes. I always thought it was a shame that we lost a great deal of the effect and atmosphere at night by not having suitable light fittings. At the time, mostly only decorative fittings, like coach lights, were available; also bollards and flood lights. I heard about a company in the usa that produced 12-volt fittings especially for the outdoors, so I went there to investigate. That was the start of my search for fittings that could provide the lighting I wanted.

What is your approach to design?

My design philosophy is that I am “painting with light” and my aim is to recognise the best features, including architectural elements of both the house and garden. Just as important is knowing which techniques to use to create a wonderful atmosphere without losing sight of practicalities.

Can you describe your process?

When developing a lighting plan, what’s most important is having a vision and the knowledge to make it a reality. It’s also important that I meet the clients at the property so I can view their garden and home to map out the design, which I then draw up later. During the site visit we discuss the possibilities so the clients have an appreciation of the concept and they can give me input into how they like to live.

What qualities set you apart?

The ability to treat each property individually and not “rubber stamp” them. As a horticulturist with a background in landscape design, it’s easy for me to appreciate the subject matter. For over 30 years I have had many satisfied clients, some of whom have engaged my services each time they moved to a new home. Clients involve me with each new property as they know I will ensure their lighting reflects the architecture of their new house and garden, which may be very different from their last.

Do you give credence to trends?

I don’t believe creating inspiring lighting for outdoor spaces involves trends. It’s my experience that the type of ambience clients love involves timelessness — in the effects created and in the appearance of the light fittings. That’s why I only use Castlight fixtures, which are designed and made in Australia. Effective yet subtle results can be created by highlighting architectural and landscape features with the innovative use of shadows, silhouettes and soft mood lighting, extending the enjoyment of the garden long after sunset.

What is the key to your success?

We have a very detailed approach. Through every step of the process our clients really value that they have an open line of communication, from going through all that’s involved during the initial consultation in our showroom to walking through the positioning of fittings with the installer on site. It is very rewarding hearing feedback from clients telling us they think the lighting looks wonderful.

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