When it came time to select lighting for our new kitchen, I immediately chose two beautiful brass Belluno pendants from Vaughan to install over our island. For years, I have had this inspiration kitchen (below) saved in my Pinterest files, and I also fell in love with the history of Vaughan…
Established 35 years ago in England, Vaughan is world-renowned for their exceptional design and craftsmanship of decorative lighting, furniture and accessories. Founders, artist-designer couple Michael and Lucy Vaughan, have always been united by a collective passion for art and antiques. Lucy had a background in ceramic restoration, having worked at the Victoria & Albert Museum, and they had both grown up surrounded by antiques and British design.
Every product is designed exclusively in Vaughan’s in-house design studio utilizing traditional and authentic manufacturing methods and the very finest materials. The factory employs a seasoned team of engineers, craftspeople, and skilled workers to ensure high standards of production. They also commission the best independent craft experts, from blacksmiths to makers of hand blown crystal. The Vaughan Collection is known for timeless design and quality, rarely affected by fleeting trends. Michael and Lucy are drawn to the textures and tones common in English country houses, as well as the contrast of mixing classic design within modern spaces, combining old and new.
Today, I am delighted to welcome Lucy Vaughan for a Style Profile Q&A… Welcome Lucy!
Q: What inspired you and Michael to create Vaughan 35 years ago, and how has the company evolved over the years?
A: Vaughan began at the beginning of the 1980s, during dinner one night with a couple of close friends. The four of us were brainstorming about what we wanted to do, and initially came up with a plan to open a modern art gallery together. Plans fell through, and the idea fizzled out, but a seed was planted that gave us the encouragement to start something of our own, and we decided to have a go with antiques. I had recently worked in ceramic restoration at the Victoria & Albert Museum, and both of us had grown up surrounded by antiques and British design, so in some way it just made a lot of sense! With the help of Michael’s mother, we bought a shop in 1982 – on the Lower Richmond Road in London – and began trading from there. In terms of how the company has evolved, it’s really grown quite organically. We started moving towards design as a result of being asked on so many occasions for pairs of lamps, not just singles. After a year or two of traveling and research, in order to find suppliers who could match the level of craftsmanship we wanted, we began selling lights that were modeled on antiques. From focusing on table lamps, we then went on to make wall lights and lanterns, and it continued quite naturally from there.
Q: When I think of Vaughan, I immediately think of exquisite lighting, but you also specialize in furniture and textiles. What are some of your best selling products?
A: The Milas Embroidered Linen is one of our bestsellers – a vibrant design that focuses on a striking pink, floral motif. It’s based on a 17th century textile that we found at auction here in London, and is stitched on a beautiful natural linen. In terms of lighting, ceiling lights and wall lights are some of our most popular; then with furniture it’s a real mix!
Q: Vaughan is synonymous with exceptional craftsmanship and quality. Please tell me more about your traditional manufacturing methods.
A: With our background in antiques, creating something of quality – that’s imbued with fine craftsmanship and care – is really important to us. Our longstanding network of customers, colleagues and suppliers are at the heart of what we do, some of whom have been with us since the very beginning. In terms of our methods, we make most of our lights with a solid base metal of brass, and our pieces are often made by lost wax casting, thanks to a father-son duo here in the UK. A number of our products are made with hand-blown glass, from a 20kg solid piece that is so heavy the makers need to start it in the morning when they’re at their full strength! Due to the sheer exertion, they can only make between 2 and 3 pieces per day. It’s stories like that, and craftsmen who care about their work, that really lights us up.
Q: While you are based in England, Vaughan is found in the finest homes across the globe. How do you work with customers internationally?
A: We have a brilliant export team, but also have received such support from other showrooms across the world – not just in the US, but on a global level too. I think this is in part due to our loyal customer base. When we started trading antiques, we built up a real network of customers who would keep coming back – many of whom are now our friends. It’s thanks to this and the strength of our products that our work is found internationally. Alongside this, we have around 15 consignee showrooms in the US, as well as a flagship showroom in New York, which can be found in the D&D Building.
Q: I also love that you are committed to helping those less fortunate. Please tell me more about your ongoing partnership with Watts of Love.
A: Our partnership with Watts of Love began in 2018 when we launched our social-media-led, month-long campaign, Made in the Shade. Back then, we asked 15 designers in the US to design a lampshade, which would then be paired with a Vaughan lamp of their choosing. Throughout the month, we pledged that for each use of the hashtag #VaughanxWattsofLove, we would donate $1. At the end of the month, we then held an auction of the lampshades, to further what could be donated to Watts of Love. Thanks to the designers’ help, the hashtag use, and the wonderful work of Watts of Love, we lit up an entire village in Nepal using solar energy. This year, we are returning with our first global rendition of the campaign, launching October, including a variety of well-known English and American designers.
Q: Where does the Vaughan Design Team find inspiration?
A: Truly anywhere! Whether it be an antique that’s caught our eye, or the texture of a twig; a product used in a film, or a certain colour in the landscape – we’re advocates that inspiration can be found anywhere, and often in the most random of places. We also look to a lot of artists for inspiration – especially those who have worked in sculpture – and more often than not these days we find ourselves gravitating back to antiques.
Q: How does Vaughan create lighting and furnishings that are truly timeless?
A: For us it’s really about creating something that you’d want to spend a lifetime with, as well as a piece that can be passed down the generations. It’s slightly hard to put into words – if anything it’s the relationship one has with the object. If it’s real, made from natural materials, and designed with a lot of love and care, a person is much more likely to want to keep it in their home.
Q: Do you have any personal favorites, and why?
A: One of our personal favourites is without a doubt the Twisted Glass Column. It’s the first piece we had made and is a wonderful reminder of our transition from antique dealers to lighting designers. When it was initially launched, we sold one on what felt like a daily basis. It really put us on the map, and allowed us to expand our horizons.
Q: What does the future hold for Vaughan?
A: Excitingly, we will be launching more furniture in September – a passion project that has been in the works for a while now. Named the Eltham Collection, it focuses on faux shagreen furniture – a material we often dealt with in antiques – alongside four new table lamps. It’s partly inspired by the monogrammed shagreen boxes I would see in my grandmother’s house as a child, but also continues our trajectory of adding a contemporary flair to more traditional pieces.
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
A: Just how grateful we are to be involved in an industry and business that we love. The way it’s grown and developed over the years is nothing short of remarkable, and the friendships that have been made with designers, colleagues and suppliers alike are truly one of a kind. Thank you all for being here!
Thank you, Lucy, for joining us today! The Glam Pad loves family owned businesses dedicated to quality and making things the “old fashioned” way.
Vaughan products are found in the finest interiors internationally, from private houses and state apartments to high-profile hotels and restaurants for a wide range of eminent clients, including royalty and celebrities. Showrooms are located in London and New York. For additional information, please visit the Vaughan Designs website and follow @vaughandesigns on Instagram for ongoing inspiration.