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British Designer Lee Broom Takes a Theatrical Approach to Lighting

At Milan Design Week, Broom brings the show to the people

If all the (design) world's a stage, then British designer Lee Broom is more than a mere player. A member of the Royal Shakespeare Company in his youth and trained in the fashion industry before moving to interior and product design, Broom is in-demand and on the rise, catching attention for his experiential exhibitions and evocative designs.

This year, the young designer presented "Salone del Automobile," a traveling exhibition in a delivery van with an interior decked out like an Italian palazzo—ornate pillars and all. It showcased Optic, his latest monochromatic lighting line.

Road tripping it all the way from London to Milan, Broom's team parked the vehicle at design hotspots all week long, including at collector's haven Spazio Rossana Orlandi, and popular late-night watering hole Bar Basso.

"Milan seems to get bigger every year, so I thought why don’t I bring the show to the people rather than the other way around?" says the designer, flanked by his team of staff, which was outfitted in gray jumpsuits (delivery driver-chic).

Broom has come to be known for his theatrical approach to design. "I see everything as more of a performance and everything that we do is almost like a play. We are staging experiences for people," he explained. Last year, his exhibition "The Department Store" revamped a row of unused Milanese shops, outfitting each with sets one might find in high-end stores the world over.

Similarly, "The Flower Shop" at London Design Week presented his collection in a sultry interactive environment, complete with floral bouquets inspired by his works. "The lines, for me, are very blurred between what you do in design and what you do in the theater," says Broom.

After winning a fashion competition at age 17, Broom's life changed course. He went on to study fashion at London's Central St. Martins and worked with designer Vivienne Westwood. According to Broom, he runs his design brand more like a fashion brand.

"I try to change the collections every season with new materials, and keep an overarching look, which is not as synonymous with product design," he explained of his annual forays into crystal, marble, brass, and occasionally wood. "If you’ve mastered something as a product designer you can keep working in that medium for years to come, but I like to change."

And Broom is no stranger to change. Since launching his Neo Neon furniture collection in 2007, he has debuted 75 products, designed and manufactured under the Lee Broom label, and created interiors for clients including Christian Louboutin.

Taking home the British Designer of the Year title in 2012, and a bevy of awards for pieces The Crystal Bulb (2013), Broom is definitely one to watch. New Yorkers take note: Broom's first U.S. store is opening this May in Soho on—naturally—Broome Street.

Lee Broom [Lee Broom]

Milan Design Week 2016: News and Updates [Curbed]