Lights On

With Mema Designs 

Lighting up her life with an ethereal elegance seems to come second nature to Sian Eliot, bespoke lighting designer and owner of Mema Designs. So Outside & In sat down with the lighting legend to learn just how we can escape the autumn grey skies by creating an inviting and moody glow inside of our own homes.

Sian, tell us about your background, and what led to the inception of your brand?

I started making lights to sell, as an industrial design student in 1998, and in 2003 I started my first lighting business, called Willowlamp. After selling my shares in that company I decided to start another lighting brand in 2013, (Mema Designs) based on a new technology which I developed with Ari Geva. We launched the Mema collection in 2015. Since 2020 I have been the sole owner of the company. 

What makes Mema Designs unlike any other lighting company?

We have a product which is made in a proprietary material and manufacturing technique, which we developed ourselves. So, the product is unique in every sense, not just aesthetically, but technically too. We also ensure that all parts are 100% pure aluminium, which is infinitely recyclable, and thus environmentally sound. 

What would you say is your ultimate design inspiration? 

Nature is where my mind and body can rest – most of my inspiration seems to come from the natural world, perhaps even just from my garden! 

Where can we find some of your products across the country?

Ou can purchase our products off our website of course! Otherwise, if you are in the neighbourhood -go to the Hollard campus in Braamfontein (next door to the Foodlover’s Market) where you will be able to see our large installation – Cloud of Petals.

Favourite collection to date? 

I love the Waterlily collection. It is my favourite because it feels like magic to have one floating in my kitchen. It is subtle and fantastical, otherworldly. 

Where in the home is the best spot for a unique and eye-catching luminaire? 

Hallways, or in-between spaces, over a side table, where you might pass every day and feel joy by seeing it there. Above the dining table is the best place for a cloud of Petals or something dramatic and unique! Somewhere that catches oblique natural lighting is also a good idea.  

How would the tone of light influence the mood and feel of a space, and what do you gravitate towards?

We recommend using warm LED bulbs, which are dimmable – I always prefer dim and moody light, to give the eyes and heart a rest, especially within your home, which is your sanctuary. 

There is also a strong relationship of colour lighting and mood. Colour has a significant impact on how we feel. Colour psychology plays a pivotal role in interior design and it also dictates our relationship with colour lighting. We can apply these psychological traits when we think about lighting various rooms within our homes as well. 

The following psychological associations are typically drawn from the relative-coloured lighting:

  • Blacks: elegance, authority, formality
  • Greens: strength, growth, health
  • Blues: tranquillity, wisdom, sincerity
  • Purples: royalty, ambition, creativity
  • Reds: romance, passion, intensity
  • Oranges: enthusiasm, happiness, stimulation
  • Yellows: optimism, laughter, intellect
  • Whites: purity, cleanliness, neutrality

Using these colour responses, we can then create spaces that instil specific feelings and emotions, or offer different moods and tones for our homes.  Through a combination of interior colours and lighting fixtures that emit these colours, an intentional mood or atmosphere can be set within your environment.

It is also important to consider a combination of lighting solutions and natural light. And, when doing so one should look at each room in isolation and determine the intent of the room. 

Do you want to create a romantic dinner setting or a vibrant lounge? Do you want to flood your kitchen with natural light and grow vegetables from a vertical garden? 

With a better idea of the functionality of a room, one can begin to craft a lighting design that triggers psychological responses aligned to this function.

Lighting psychology is a powerful field of study and understanding our brains responses to different fixtures can assist us as we hope to create meaningful spaces at home. 

Sian Eliot

Bespoke Lighting Designer & Creative Director of Mema Designs