My Life’s Work | Chris & Clare Turner, CTO Lighting

In this regular series, we meet a Walpole member to discover what makes them tick, how they define success, and what keeps them awake at night. This week Chris & Clare Turner, owners of CTO Lighting.

Managing and Creative directors, Chris and Clare Turner, founded CTO Lighting in 1998. They launched their first collection on the guiding principles of designing lights of uncompromising quality, using only the finest materials and working with elite British craftsmen. This collection of modern lighting symbolised elegance and excellence in British design manufacturing, the benchmark for all their future collections.

Chris, an engineer by training, worked at Arup where he gained all his great technical expertise to design and manufacture the lighting with such meticulous detail. Clare’s creative background, working in fashion for a leading UK brand, has added valuable retail knowledge and experience to the company.

WHAT DOES BRITISH LUXURY MEAN TO YOU?
Considered, well made, quality materials, designed with our unique British flair.

WHAT’S YOUR VISION FOR CTO LIGHTING?
To open our own showrooms in Europe and North America.

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT?
Seeing our lights in world class buildings like St Pancras, Rosewood, Dorchester and Chiltern Firehouse.

HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?
Doing what we love.

WHAT’S YOUR GREATEST EXTRAVAGANCE?
Playing golf in office hours (Chris). Celine handbags (Clare).

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?
Designing and making lights.

LEAST?
Dealing with solicitors/banks – they are so slow.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST REGRET?
No regrets but with hindsight we’d do some things differently, e.g. take more risks, get a business coach sooner.

WHAT’S THE SMARTEST BUSINESS IDEA YOU HAVE EVER HAD?
Stay manufacturing in the UK and concentrate on the luxury sector.

WHAT WAS YOUR BIG BREAK?
Winning a large bespoke order for a hotel in Westminster which allowed us to make the break from part to full-time in the business.

WHAT IS YOUR GUIDING PRINCIPLE?
Do unto others as you want them to do to you.

WHICH LIVING PERSON DO YOU MOST ADMIRE?
My wife, for putting up with me (Chris). My family for being kind human beings (Clare).

WHICH WORDS OR PHRASES DO YOU MOST OVERUSE?
Clare says I swear too much at work so I’m trying to reduce (Chris).

WHAT KEEPS YOU AWAKE AT NIGHT?
Next door’s dog when they let it out last thing at night (Chris).  I sleep like a baby (Clare).

WHAT DO YOU MOST VALUE IN YOUR FRIENDS?
Easy going nature (Chris). Being there through the good and bad times (Clare).

IN A PARALLEL LIFE, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING?
In the summer – a gardener but only doing lawn-cutting, just for the smell of cut grass. In the winter working in a local café and talking to the regulars (Chris). An architect (Clare).

WHAT PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE ENTERING THE LUXURY INDUSTRY NOW?
We started out with no knowledge of the lighting industry or the luxury market. This makes it a longer, harder journey but you do learn a lot form all the mistakes you make. However, make it easy on yourself and work for someone first instead (Chris). Bring something original, bring your personality (Clare).

www.ctolighting.co.uk