Stainless steel lighting fixtures in the United Kingdom are known for their sophisticated, minimalist design and unassailable quality. Among the niche manufacturers of these fixtures, known as luminaires, is London-based Tornado Lighting & Design Ltd.
Tornado's products are on display in many environments and locales, from industrial kitchens, where stainless is often a "must have," to corporate and commercial establishments such as Deutsche Bank and London's Heathrow Airport.
The company sells more than 12,000 luminaires per year. "Architects and engineers especially have a good appreciation of the long-term benefits of the materials, and so they realise that the extra initial cost of stainless pays off in the long run," says James Fox, Tornado's managing director and founder.
He adds: "The perceived value of the material is so much higher than anything else, and the integrity of the product is beyond question. Apart from being functional and durable, stainless steel makes a strong style statement in corporate environments. These installations remain fresh-looking for many years."
Stainless can be used with a host of building materials, and in many styles, Fox explains. "Stainless steel is very versatile. It can complement stone and light wood and blend happily with many materials. It is a beautiful material to work with."
Tornado began making indoor luminaires in 1990, using S30400 nickel-containing stainless steel. It started switching over to a more corrosion-resistant, molybdenum-bearing, low-carbon grade of stainless, S31603, in 1994, when outdoor units were added to its product line. Some luminaires are made with pre-finished satin and mirror-polished finishes, whereas others are electropolished to rid them of iron deposits, which the stainless sometimes acquires during machining.
Various fabrication techniques are used, including flatbed laser cutting, spinning, roll-forming, punching and guillotine-cutting (shearing). Since none of the models requires a finish operation such as painting, production costs are low and recycling is simple.
Tornado promotes end-of-life recycling. "The awareness of recycling is becoming more prominent all the time," says Fox. "We are going to be making that a prominent issue. Also, our fixtures are low-energy consumers."
Tornado makes 38 models of luminaires for five applications: groundlights, wallwash, bulkheads, bollards and pendants. The heaviest weigh six kilograms. On average, 90% of the material used is stainless steel, though in some models the stainless content is 100%.
Architects can make a strong style statement by selecting from the wide range of stainless steel luminaires available today. Outdoor, post-style fixtures, for example, are an excellent complement to wooden structures. The versatility of stainless steel and the number of different finishes that are available have led to a diverse selection of indoor ceiling and wall units. Nickel stainless steel S30400 is used in most applications, but more corrosion-resistant S31600 is used for demanding outdoor applications.
Photo: Tornado Lighting & Design Ltd.