Brockham-based designer Ruth Gomes

PUBLISHED: 16:31 12 May 2009 | UPDATED: 15:59 20 February 2013

Brockham-based designer Ruth Gomes

Brockham-based designer Ruth Gomes

Lighting helps set the mood for any room but lampshades are the finishing touch, as Brockham-based designer Ruth Gomes explains to Janet Donin

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine April 2009

Lighting helps set the mood for any room but lampshades are the finishing touch, as Brockham-based designer Ruth Gomes explains to Janet Donin

Name: Ruth Gomes
Company: Shade
Location: Brockham
Tel: 01737 844757 / 07881 806203

Brooches, corsages and diamante buckles are all glamorous accessories most commonly associated with fashion designers - but they're also essential to Brockham-based lampshade-maker Ruth Gomes who incorporates more than a little bling into her designs.

"Lampshades are my thing!" says Ruth, 43, who has two young children. "They're the finishing touch!"

With a background in fashion and a City and Guilds degree in soft furnishings under her belt, Ruth decided that a home-based career was high on her agenda.

"I don't have the space or the inclination to make curtains, whereas I can make lampshades on my knee!"

Ruth started her business, called simply Shade, some eight years ago but had no money to promote herself. Using her initiative, she commissioned creative photographic student Scott Lewis to take images of her work. These were sent out to Surrey interior designers and magazines to generate interest.

Warming to her marketing theme, she took herself off to Decorex, the big interior design show in London. But instead of hiring a costly display stand, Ruth simply walked around the show carrying a couple of her lampshades.

"I was amazed at how many people stopped to ask me where they came from," she says. "A couple of interior design contacts made at the show are still my clients now."

Seeing the light

Through continued networking, Ruth has recently been approached by Channel 4 to take part in Kirstie Allsopp's programme, Kirstie's Home Made Home, which features handmade products by various crafts people.

She has also created some rather splashy shades for well-known fashion designer Julien Macdonald.

And now she has broadened her outlook still further and is teaching the art of lampshade making to an every increasing Surrey audience and beyond (see details below).

"Everyone looks pretty scared when they turn up," she smiles, "but you don't have to be able to sew and it's lovely to see them walk out with something special at the end of the day."

There was a time when all lampshades were the 'waisted' empire style in either plain cream or chintz fabrics. Today, thanks to designers like Ruth, they are far more glamorous.

"Drum-shaped shades are perfect for patterned fabrics or swathed with pleated silk and clinched with a diamante stud," she says. "Asymmetric shapes are my favourite; they look great trimmed with feathers or ruffles."

Thinking out of the box is the essence of a true designer and for Ruth the more unusual the better. One of her recent commissions was a chandelier made out of 27 small lampshades.

"They were all plain linen with fabulous vintage fabric linings and looked wonderful hanging in a cluster from the ceiling," she says.

Ruth can make a lampshade in any style and any colour you can imagine, with prices starting from around £100, though she favours silk dupion.

For her trims and accessories, she is a frequent visitor to VV Rouleaux in London, which has stores in Sloane Square and Marylebone Lane, where you'll find an Aladdin's cave of fringes and feathers, bobbles and buckles, ribbons and roses.

And her frame-maker can interpret her clever designs into any shape she wants.

"They're like little maths projects, but he hasn't thrown up his hands in horror yet," she laughs.

Lampshade making courses in Surrey

Ruth teaches the art of lampshade making at:
Les Tuileries, 6 South Street, Dorking RH4 2EL. Tel: 01306 888028
Two-day course: £325

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