Officially launched earlier this year, and first seen at Clerkenwell Design Week, there’s a new player on the outdoor accessory scene – Jalu – bringing high-quality and stylish lighting to the UK market whilst offering designers and landscapers a truly unique product for outdoor spaces.
Hotel Designs editor Daniel Fountain sat down with the founders of the company – Alison Cavey and Juliet Kauffmann – to discuss the company’s origins, the product and their plans for the future…
2017 has been a monumental year for Juliet and Alison. Having previously worked together in innovation strategy consulting for more than 15 years, they tell me that after years of working with start-up companies and commercialising new technologies they wanted a piece of the action.
“We wanted to work in a completely different sector and to be able to focus on a product and get excited and passionate about it,” Alison tells me.
That decision led the duo to developing a range of striking, attractive outdoor lighting pieces that make up Jalu’s product range. “We travelled a lot for work and for pleasure to places like Australia and around the Mediterranean, where there is a fantastic outdoor-based lifestyle, and we thought we could bring a little more of that vibe to the UK,” Alison adds.
“The first idea we had was around outdoor lighting which is very traditional here in the UK. In Spain and Italy you can find some really interesting, contemporary pieces – but they’re not designed for the UK market. That was our starting point – making a product suited to this market, using innovative, British-based suppliers who are a big part of our operation,” Alison explains.
It’s taken the pair around 18 months to get the company to where it is today, and there has been a learning curve along that road; namely in finding the right materials to produce the pieces and going through some several early prototypes. The final method takes on a casting approach using a material called Jesmonite (named as one of the products of the year at this year’s London Design Week).
Looking at the pieces, it’s clear to see that it certainly is a durable material to work with. The beauty of the products, too, is given the vagaries of the British weather the finish does not fade and is entirely frost-proof. Being considerably lighter than stone and concrete also means the pieces are easy to move, making them ideal for ever-changing layouts for outdoor spaces. This forms part of Jalu’s adoption of a current design trend – ‘bringing the inside, out’ – which sees indoor living spaces extended to the outdoors.
Juliet explains: “We wanted to create a product that looks just as good outside or inside, and this adds to the flexibility of usage for our clients. There is also an extraordinary versatility in terms of colour and finish, so we can create completely bespoke products for the end user.
“We saw two key markets for these high-end, handmade pieces – we originally targeted working with interior designers, garden designers, landscapers to get access their clients. But we’ve always seen a strong opportunity to work with boutique hotels, restaurants, spas – clients that can make a real statement with Jalu products,” she adds.
So when do they see as the ideal time to get involved in the design process?
“We can come in at any time during a project – due to the versatility of the product, so if a client comes to us and they already have a colour scheme, we can fit in around that as best we can. But ideally, we would come in earlier. The important thing to remember is these lights are a statement, they’re a feature – they’re not designed to be hidden around a corner, or to light something else; they are meant to be part of the design, so the earlier they can be incorporated into the design process, the better for us. Not to mention there is the potential for customisation or completely bespoke designs,” Juliet says.
And, although they are designed to be portable, they can be hard-wired too – the pieces are mains-powered, entirely IP65 rated so perfect for outside provided the outdoor socket has a residual current device (RCD) on it, or goes through to an indoor socket.
“So we see it as a standalone item that you can just plug in like you would with any device. But with a loop-in, loop-out system they can be wired up together. In terms of practicality, these are large pieces that wouldn’t have worked with a small, solar bulb; they needed something a bit more substantial, so we use high-quality LED luminaires, which are obviously energy-efficient and should last you a long time,” Alison concludes.
So far, Alison and Juliet have received considerable positive feedback from the design world. And with more designs on the horizon, there is more to come from Jalu. Now up-and-running, the next step is to target independent and boutique hoteliers where the duo feel the product is perfectly suited.
You can see Juliet and Alison on the Jalu stand at the upcoming Independent Hotel Show on Stand 29. Be sure to stop by, the future is looking bright for this innovative and stylish product…
Photos: Daniel Fountain (Hotel Designs)