Rita meets…Rohan Blacker, founder of Pooky

After doing amazing things with Sofa.com, Rohan Blacker turned his attention to lighting and started Pooky. The company specialises in creating beautiful, decorative lighting that doesn’t cost a fortune, with lampshades, lamps and pendant lights coming in an extraordinary range of shapes, sizes and materials. Pooky has gone from strength to strength in recent years, so I asked Rohan to shine a light on its success…

Tell us about the moment you decided to start Pooky
Pooky is the business I always wanted to do – I am not sure there was any particular Damascene moment, but I have always loved lights and good lighting.  Lighting is everything in a home – all else plays second fiddle to it.  For many years I ran Sofa.com, and I often wondered if we could add lights as a category there, but it would have been wrong – it was important Sofa.com were 100% sofa specialists.  In the same way Pooky is wholly focused on lighting – nothing else – an obsessive specialist! So it made sense when I moved on from Sofa.com, I should set up the business that had been bubbling inside for years – and pour every ounce of focus into it.

Sum up Pooky in three words
Classy, fun, affordable

When it comes to designing what inspires you?
Finding beautiful materials to work with thrill me.  For the last year we have been trying to work out how to make shades with this astonishing banana parchment, and we’ve finally got there; but it all started out with seeing the parchment in the first place – it is so delicate and beautiful, criss-crossed with natural fibres, and the warm glow it gives when lit through is just fantastic.  I have softness for glass, too. We found a small factory that blows the most elegant and classy coloured glass bowls and vases. It was then our job to work out how to turn these little lovelies into table lamps and I think they work brilliantly.

What’s on your studio/office playlist?
We listen to a French internet radio, fipradio.fr, that plays the most eclectic music selection you could imagine. One moment you’re listening to jazz and then there is a Romanian Gypsy band doing a cover of Madonna’s Like a Virgin, and then some Bach to calm you down.  Keeps you on your toes.  

Who’s your dream customer and why? 
That implies some customers are not dreamy, which of course they all are!  Anyone who likes what we are trying to create and takes the step to live with our lighting is a bit of a dream really.  I don’t really think it is right to say that the person who buys twenty lamps for their vast new build is any better than the person who carefully selects a small shade for their bedside lamp they have had for years.  

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career so far?
Whatever you do, however straightforward or complex, you need the right team of people to support you and work with. And they don’t just need to be brilliant as individuals, but they need to work well within the team. One super talent, who exudes the wrong attitude can be so damaging, but the right collective spirit and sense of joint purpose can be transformative. I am sounding a bit like Jose Mourinho, but it’s true. And, of course, remember to have fun.

Tube or bus? Bus
Sun or shade? Shade
Vinyl or MP3? I know I should say vinyl, if I want to be considered cool, but in truth, its MP3 for me. In fact anyone who says vinyl is basically lying, or some just fizzy headed, retro romantic!

SHOP: See Rita’s Pooky edit below.

MORE! Need help? Have a glance at Rita’s top five tips to lighting your home beautifully.