Rita Meets…Harry Starling, Director of Enamel Shades

Enamel Shades creates new and vintage industrial-inspired lighting for customers throughout the UK and the rest of the world. Harry Starling, the director of the company, tells us how he went from restoring lights in his garden shed in Birmingham to running his internationally-renowned business…

Tell us about the moment you decided to start Enamel Shades.
I originally started as a favour to a friend who asked me to rewire an old table lamp back in 2004. Word spread and more people wanted their car boot sale finds fixing up and so the restoration became a hobby. A couple of years later I was doing some photography at some old factories and thought the old enamel shades would look nice in my living room. This lead to more requests from people who wanted me to supply them with the shades and we just grew organically from there. This eventually evolved into our current operation, which moved into purpose built industrial premises in 2012.

Sum up the company in three words.
Friendly, knowledgeable, helpful.

When it comes to the creative process what inspires you?
I love making a client’s idea become a reality, especially when we can surprise them with what’s actually possible. Equally it’s great when a client turns up with a brief that might look impossible, but after a design meeting out comes a solution that nobody expects.

What’s on your studio playlist?
Currently Christine & The Queens and Placebo, although 80s electro features surprisingly often.

Who’s your dream customer and why?
The dream customer isn’t the big spender; they’re the open-minded thinker who’s got a brief, but wants to play within the bounds of that. Someone where we bounce ideas off each other, maybe experiment a little bit, take some risks and inevitably end up with a finished project that exceeds both of our expectations.

Share a top tip for a budding designer
Don’t try to change the world, just try to continually improve how you do what you do in order to be better than the rest. And, most importantly, have fun doing it!


City or country?      
City, definitely! I grew up in the country.

Chinese or Curry?
Curry. We’re from Birmingham, home of the best!

Cinema or theatre?