What started as a local home makeover project has grown into a brand that lights up the homes of the rich and the famous. Natalie Brittan reports…
Dua Lipa and Sophie Ellis-Bextor may be very different musicians but one thing they have in common is that they’ve both commissioned striking and unique feature lights designed by a pair of Chiswick siblings.
For Ben and Rebecca Reynolds, it all began at the Boston May Fair. The duo, originally from Lincolnshire, were regulars at the legendary event which began in their hometown in 1125 and welcomes scores of traders, rides and crowds every year.
“We used to be taken there as children every year religiously. It was just part of our upbringing – we loved it,” Ben recalls.
Fast forward to adulthood, the siblings had moved to West London with Ben working in marketing for BBC Studios and Rebecca in corporate events. One summer, inspiration struck.
“I was doing up my house and the fair was on in Turnham Green and I was walking through it and thought I’d quite like some sort of antique fairground light for my garden,” says Ben.
Initial searches online and in stores didn’t yield any results, so Ben decided to take matters into his own hands.
“One thing led to another, and we began making fairground lights and selling them. It was quite low brow, then it took off – people liked them and started buying them.”
Recruiting his sister’s help, the pair set up offices and a workshop in Longcross and put in the hard yards, investing in research and a digital presence, with Ben focusing on marketing and design and Rebecca on sales and operations.
Around the same time, a good friend Ben had made at the BBC, Maike Hachfeld, set up Hack & Veldt, a café and delicatessen on Turnham Green Terrace. It became one of the first businesses to commission lighting from Carousel, which soon grabbed the attention of local celebrity Sophie Ellis-Bextor.
“We made a steel heart with a stainless steel ribbon going through it then we wrote the word family out of neon and put fairground lights around it,” says Ben. “She absolutely loved it, it’s in her kitchen.”
Since then, the company has produced custom lighting for some of the biggest names in entertainment including singer-songwriter, Dua Lipa and record label, Hedkandi, as well as luxury retailers such as Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges.
In 2016, the company was voted as a Cool Brand – an annual branding ranking of the coolest global brands as determined by a panel of respected ‘style-makers’ on the CoolBrands Council and by consumers around the UK.
More recently, celebrated UK choreographer Sir Matthew Bourne approached Carousel to repair a broken neon sign used in one of the scenes for his modern interpretation of Swan Lake.
“We had 24 hours to get the light to the workshop, fix it and get it back in time for opening night,” says Ben.
At the end of the day, it’s jobs like these that keep things interesting and varied:
“We saved the day of the opening night of a very famous ballet, the next day it could be a photoshoot of the Nike logo in neon, and we’ve done some work for probably the world’s most famous living artist in his personal home.”
Both Ben and Rebecca are alighting the Chiswick merry-go-round soon for the rural charms of Surrey, but there will be no slowing down on the design front. Watch out for more enlightening creations!