Sally Storey, Design Director of both John Cullen Lighting and Lighting Design International, is one of the country’s leading lighting experts. Sally spends much of her time travelling all over the world to design lighting schemes for individual and corporate clients.  Sally has written three very successful, well-received books on the subject of lighting and often contributes to national and international press.



How did you first discover your passion for lighting?

My passion for lighting started then when I became fascinated on how natural light manipulated and articulated the way one saw a building or a space.  I had met John Cullen whilst studying architecture and designed the first showroom just off the Kings Road in London.  This is where my journey began and today all types of natural light still inspire me.  Whether the reflected ripples of light dancing on the side of a building or the dappled play of light and shadow as sunlight filters through trees or texture.


As aesthetes ourselves, we know how subtle elements can really make a huge difference. How important is good lighting for creating the right ambience in libraries?

Lighting can make or break a library. It can add pools of light to create intimate corners, a reading zone, a working zone etc. Lighting the books is a great way of adding colour and interest in a dark room, and, if lit well, can almost become a window in the room. Localised lamps are best for local tasks so you can read your book.


John Cullen & Ultimate Library lighting and book display


What are your top tips for lighting shelving units/books?

Consider using a HD24 LED Contour strip for a wonderful warm glow. For full shelves, the contour strip should be used at the front, concealed within a downward or up and down detail. Occasionally, if a combination of books and objects are displayed, backlighting the display would be more effective.


Photograph of a corner library shelving unit with warm lighting


What was your favourite Ultimate Library project that you worked on with us?

I love working with Ultimate Library. Working at the four seasons Hotel Des Bergues in Geneva was wonderful, as was working with Kit Kemp on the fabulous Ham Yard in London. Also, the redressing of our showroom shelves has given them new life and has been an important tool in demonstrating to our clients the wonderful effects lighting your shelves can have on your interiors.


In this digital, LED age, where is the field of lighting heading?

LEDs have transformed our shelf lighting solutions. In the past tungsten halogen sources were not only larger and bulkier but they also ran hot and could create a lot of damage to old books. Originally LEDs were very cool and too white but recent developments have meant a much warmer colour temperature. This means that fitting such as our Contour HD24 LED strip can create a really cosy atmosphere.


Image of Library shelves with LED lighting


Please find Sally’s list of ‘desert island’ design books below:

Every Room Tells a Story

By Kit Kemp

A stunning book presenting Kemp’s signature approach to design. I love the eclectic combination of styles that she uses. A perfect desert island read.

Thinking Architecture

By Peter Zumthor

An articulation of what motivates Zumthor to design his buildings, centred on the sensuous connection between architecture and life. His use of natural light is an inspiration.

In Praise of Shadows

By Junichiro Tanizaki

An essay on aesthetics exploring traditional Japanese interiors, architecture and the clashing light of the modern age. A lighting scheme is not a scheme without incorporating shadow.

Colour Deconstructed

By Tricia Guild

A wonderfully visual book focusing on how colour and other important elements of a room come together. I find her use of colour absolutely inspirational.