Karl Tahir and his family run Optime Lighting, who have put together an exclusive range of lighting for Made to Last that is not available to purchase anywhere else online.
Karl was kind enough to spend some time answering a few questions that we feel will help you to understand more about Optime Lighting and why we are so proud to be selling their products.
What do you make and why?
We are an independent company working in the heart of Hitchin, Hertfordshire specialising in Bespoke Lighting Design & Manufacture. My father started the business over 40 years ago, where we were originally based in London. I started working for the family business when I was 16 years old and have been ever since.
Over the years, we’ve evolved from an electrical wholesale store, to bespoke lighting specialists. My primary focus is running the bespoke side of things, whilst my father still manages our electrical trade counter. We’re a close knit team, working on family values.
We know your products are great, you know your products are great but how can they know?
We have generations’ worth of experience and this isn’t something that goes unnoticed when you see the quality of our products. As director and chief designer, I lead our team of British artisan craftspeople in handcrafting beautiful lights that are quite literally made to last.
We pride ourselves on using only the highest quality components, metals, materials, paints and flex. It is ensured that all materials are sourced locally where possible and any materials or parts sourced overseas are verified of their ethical supply chain. We work to a strict ISO 9001-accredited quality control system, whereby all of our fittings are individually assembled and tested, to ensure our lights meet or exceed CE Standards and BSEN 60598-1:2008.
Not to mention, the limitless potential of our lighting alongside our unparalleled work ethic means we’ve built a strong reputation for ourselves within the hospitality and leisure industry.
Whereabouts does your manufacturing take place?
Whilst much of the manufacture takes place at our dedicated workshop, we also have a network of local, specialist craftspeople who contribute their considerable expertise. These include glassblowers, metal workers, potters and woodturners.
What is the toughest part of the product development process for you?
As with all manufacturing, there are always tolerances to be allowed for and overcome. When you are designing bespoke items that are completely unique, there is always going to be an element of surprise. But, our combined passion for design and manufacture means that we thrive on those challenges.
So whilst this could be viewed as the “toughest” past of product development to others, for us it’s actually the most exciting. We like to view them not as “challenges”, but as “opportunities”.
What is the most enjoyable part of the process of product development for you?
As director and chief designer, I get to engage with every single stage of production. From design to dispatch, I overlook everything. The most enjoyable part of the development process for me is definitely seeing the designs come to life. After spending several hours on a technical sketch, its great to then go and actually get stuck into making it.
Physically being able to touch the materials and see a digital drawing that you’ve worked so hard on, come into reality is amazing. Whilst the designs are often three dimensional and drawn to scale, a computer screen can never really do it justice. So bringing together different components to make a finished product and see it’s actual dimensions (which in some cases can be insanely humongous), is always exciting!
Do you have any new products/ranges planned for the next year or so?
At the start of the year we brought out several new lighting collections, including our AT-OM-IC, Bobble and Hipster range so it’s unlikely we’ll be introducing any new collections until the end of the year or potentially early next year. But, we’re always creating new products.
Part of the beauty of creating bespoke items is that you’re always given new challenges and opportunities. You’re always working on something new and that’s what keeps this job interesting for me. Even the featured collections on our website and Made to Last are bespoke in their own right – with so many colour options and the potential to personalise the flex, no light is ever the same!
What products or people have helped to inspire you to create the products that you do?
In the late 90s, I had just started working alongside my father and thus, accompanied him to various lighting exhibitions throughout Europe. I can remember a specific lighting event in Milan, Italy. The vast variety of designs blew me away and I remember feeling overwhelmed with inspiration. I couldn’t wait to get home and start crafting designs of my own.
It was from these very visits that I realised design and manufacture was the way forward for our business and it was around this time that we began to manufacture our Techni Trax Systems.
We were one of the first lighting designers to make the twin parallel wire & tube system with various interchangeable spot lights. Over the years, I’ve developed this sector of the business and it now accounts for around 70%.
Tell us something about yourself that not many people know
Anyone who knows me will know that my other passion besides lighting design is cars. I’m mad about them and am the proud owner of a VW T6 Sportline Camper and a Saab 9-3 Vector Turbo. So if anyone is looking for bespoke car-inspired lights, I’m your man!
What do you wish we had asked you?
“Can you make us a 5 meter diameter chandelier adorned with Swarovski crystals?”
Our answer, “Yes.”
MTL – Once we can afford our palatial office upgrade we will let you know
Which product in your range do you personally use the most and why?
Our Factory pendants are definitely the most popular. I think the straightforwardness of them makes them so attractive to people, as they can be placed in any environment and always look fantastic!
We manufacture them in almost any colour which really appeals to people as there is always going to be something that appeals to their personal taste. Overall, it’s the versatility of them that makes them so popular with clients. My personal favourite is our Large Traditional Factory pendant in Dead Matt Black and Copper colour-way with clear Prismatic inner Glass Globe.
We also find ourselves using our clear prismatic glass a lot throughout manufacturing and I believe that’s because they can be used solely or paired with other fittings like the Factory. They’re definitely popular with customers who wish to disguise lamps.
What environmental considerations have you enacted into your sourcing, manufacturing and packaging?
All of our paints are not only beautiful, but 100% vegan. More so, our powder-based paint means no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are released, giving our lighting unbeatable environmental advantages.
We aim to always source locally as not only does this boost our local economy, but also helps to maintain a lowered carbon footprint when travelling to external partners. For packaging we use 100% recyclable cardboard boxes.
Every single one of our light fittings is designed to fit Retrofit LED lamps, guaranteeing higher efficiency & lower power usage. Lastly, where appropriate we will always pitch the concept of up-cycling/renovating old light fittings into new ones, lowering material usage and waste.
Why did you name your products as you have?
When we are developing a particular light fitting, we will always take inspiration from the original concept, design and manufacturing process to create unique names and descriptions that reflect the very essence of the fitting.
MTL – Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions Karl. It has been great to hear more about your company and the beautiful lights that you manufacture.
For customers that are interested to see all of the products and to learn more about Optime Lighting please click here.