How did you take your childhood passion for wood and metalwork to a professional level?
I grew up crafting metal and wood as a hobby so it’s something I’ve always been interested in. After studying architecture and subsequently working in a number of architecture firms I established Mullan Lighting in 2008. Design, metalwork and woodwork have always been a feature of my life.
What does an average day look like for you?
Every day is different as we are involved in a wide variety of lighting projects worldwide. Most days I try to get out of the office and work with our designers and craftspeople in the workshop, however there is always an element of administrative work that must be completed. I attend as many client meetings as possible too so that I can be at the forefront of our bespoke design projects.
How would you describe the style of your products?
Our product catalogue touches upon a wide variety of styles — from industrial to modern, mid-century to retro. Our style is always evolving as our customers continually demand new and unique lighting products. We constantly explore new possibilities and materials, as well as creating new designs and products that push these boundaries.
At Mullan Lighting we keep a close eye on trends in fashion and design by visiting several trade events each year around the world. It means a great deal of travelling but it keeps us informed of the latest design movements. At the moment the trend is definitely focused on mid-century design, featuring polished brass metalwork combined with a painted finish. This is something our design team has been specialising in for some time.
From where do you draw inspiration for your designs?
Irish people are proud of maintaining the handcrafted culture of this island and are always happy to share their experiences and ideas. Other Irish craftspeople have influenced and inspired my work more than anything else. From local artists such as Helen Steele and stonemasons like Marc Kelly, the work that these people do inspires both me and others. From a business point of view my biggest influence and inspiration are my parents who run a successful electrical wholesale business with stores in Monaghan and Cavan.
Your business has been busy in the past number of years. Can you tell us about one of your current projects?
Over the past few years we’ve concentrated on creating an extensive catalogue of products and scaling the business. We now employ 45 people across manufacturing, sales and administration at our historic premises in Mullan Village, Co. Monaghan.
We are working on a huge project in Dubai at the moment where the client is creating a mile-long Las Vegas style strip along the coast. We have been appointed as the supplier for all the outdoor lighting for the entire strip. Each light fixture is custom designed and manufactured with the ability to withstand 50 degree temperatures, potential sandstorms and the harsh coastal marine environment.
The project is extremely challenging with over 1,500 bespoke light fixture pieces to be manufactured within a very tight deadline. In terms of decorative lighting projects they don’t get much bigger than this. It’s really exciting.
Which of your lights prove most popular with clients?
Our most popular product over the last 18 months is the “Cullen” dish wall light, followed closely by our cage pendant lights. Recently though we’re increasingly designing and manufacturing modern and mid-century lighting, such as our “Cairo” wall light. It’s consistently within our top five best performing products.
Why are so you passionate about lighting design?
I get to work on many exciting and memorable projects. We have undertaken complete lighting fit outs for many top hotels and restaurants including a number of the Hard Rock Cafes, Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurants, the Inchydoney Island Lodge and Spa in Cork and the Dungloe Hotel in Donegal.
Other projects we are proud to have worked on include the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin and Legoland in Dubai.
It is nice to sometimes unexpectedly come across our work whilst visiting different places at home and abroad. Seeing our lights in beautiful locations makes me proud of the team and drives me to continue innovating and improving our products.
If money and time were no object what would you create?
I’d like to spend more time creating and prototyping experimental lights that sit outside of current design trends. You learn a lot when creating light fixtures that are totally removed from anything in our current catalogue.
Do you think you’ll ever return to architecture?
I worked for a number of architecture firms for almost three years before seeing an opportunity and setting up Mullan Lighting. Having an entrepreneurial spirit, it was only a matter of time before I set up my own business. I’m glad that I chose to focus on lighting.
Want to know more? See some of Mullan Lighting's products here.