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Dominic & Frances Bromley

issue 46 December / January 2008/9

The duo behind Scabetti reveal their ‘design for form’ philosophy as they present four new Shoals

What’s in a number? In this case it’s the number of fish in a Shoal. Designers Dominic and Frances Bromley, otherwise known as Scabetti, have added to their collection of sculptural lighting with Shoal-64, -118, -186, and -798.

After debuting at 100% Design in 2007, the award-winning Shoal – a 2m tall Shoal of 1,672 fish with six central light beams – has become a firm favourite in the design world. Its bone china fish are strung by hand to appear as if they are swimming around the central beam of light, creating a fascinating piece of art.

“From day one, it has always been a case of function follows form,” explains Frances. “In other words, the look of an object was always more important than how well it achieved its supposed function. However both being from a technical background, the practical issues of how the piece functions as a light source and how it is packaged and installed are also considerations as the piece evolves.”

Scabetti was conceived in 1999 with the creations of a candlestick holder and small amoeba dish, followed by a number of sculptural interior accessories. Their first venture into lighting, ‘Drawn to the Light’, was the inspiration for subsequent designs including a specially commissioned 3,434-piece sculpture for the London Headquarters of the International Maritime Organisation, and a Shoal for Jill and Rick Stein’s seafood restaurant in Cornwall.

“Shoal is really a development of Drawn to the Light,” says Frances. “We really liked the effect of forms appearing to float around a light source, but wanted to modify the design so that we could create a denser cluster of bone china pieces. At the same time, Dominic had this image of fish swarming in a cylindrical manner, so the two ideas combined to form Shoal.”

Shoal took around nine months to develop and was fraught with decisions of how many layers of fish were needed, how many fish to have on each line, and how close each line of fish should be, decisions aided by 3D modelling software. The team opted for a simplified generic sea fish originated from a delicate sculpted work in clay and reproduced by hand in fine bone china. The natural translucency of the bone china body allows each fish to radiate with the hue of the light it circles. Each fitting includes the latest T5 integral ballast Stick Lite by Encapsulite.
It was both considerable international applause and public admiration and that inspired Scabetti to extend the collection and introduce a complete range of sizes. New for 2008 are Shoal186 at 85cm tall, Shoal118 at 50cm tall, and an overtable piece Shoal64 at just 35cm diameter and 20cm tall. Shoal789 was also unveiled at 100% Design 2008, measuring 75cm diameter and 175cm tall.

Scabetti continue to work on bespoke formations of Shoal as well as new designs for 2009, which will no doubt illustrate the Bromley’s ‘function follows form’ philosophy.


Dominic & Frances Bromley Dominic & Frances Bromley
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