Five Minutes With Julie Neill

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The lighting designer chats while in town to launch her new designs at Circa Lighting

On home as a source of inspiration: My sculptural pieces grew directly from my life here in my beloved New Orleans, with its tropical foliage, ancient moss-covered oak trees, organic cast-iron curves, luminous full moon and amazing historic architecture. 

On her old-meets-new aesthetic: I’ve always felt like an old soul living in a historic city who resonates with the vibrancy of now. Classical and historic forms have always spoken to me, and they’ve inspired me to create pieces that reference antiques as well as more modern pieces that speak in classical terms to the present. 

Courtesy Circa Lighting

On mainstays of Southern style: In the South, we cherish our homes and all the beauty that surrounds us. We celebrate with people we love in places we love, surrounded by things that have special meaning to us. Throughout my life I’ve sought to create warm and comfortable home spaces filled with things I value both visually and emotionally, which makes a nurturing environment. My design work starts as an intuitive process which grows from that place.

On that lightbulb moment: I was drawn to design lighting specifically because I felt that beautiful light fixtures create the ambience of the room from the standpoint of being a decorative object and, most importantly, they bring light into a space. One of my earliest design projects was a new home construction, and on the day my light fixtures were installed, my client called and said when she saw all the rooms lit up, she knew that even if she never added another thing to her house, it would be fine because the lighting was everything. Needless to say, that brought tears to my eyes, and I knew I’d found my calling.