Thomas Cooper Studio: Reflections on a lasting design partnership

Thomas Cooper Studio is an inspiring place for the designer who is searching for the thing that made them fall in love with design in the first place. 

For the past 20 years, Sally Thomas Cooper and Jason Kai Cooper have operated two successful lighting brands, the hospitality-focused Lusive and residential-focused Luxe Light and Home. Now, with Thomas Cooper Studio they are sharing a new dimension of their creativity. “From the beginning, we’ve aimed to create lighting fixtures that are both functional and expressive,” says Jason Kai Cooper. “For Thomas Cooper Studio, we are applying the same quality craftsmanship standards we have for Lusive and Luxe Light and Home to our most artistic and refined designs.” Click play on the video below to watch our discussion about the evolution of their creativity. Read on for a peek inside their studio and at their four newest collections. 

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Dissolving boundaries between art and design

Thomas Cooper Studio recently opened its doors in East LA with an all-day open house featuring inspiring programming. Among the talks was a panel discussion on the boundaries between art and design. This conversation comes at an interesting time, as many designers find themselves asked to assume the role of art curator for their clients. Simultaneously, many mid-career designers and makers, who have successfully cracked the code and built prosperous businesses, sense themselves straying from their creative roots. The ethos of Thomas Cooper Studio is in lockstep with the current discourse about the dissolution of boundaries between art and design. It comes naturally to the studio’s founders.

Growing up in New Zealand, Sally Thomas Cooper was surrounded by a diverse array of artists—from potters and painters to writers and musicians. An ongoing and casual dialogue about art surrounded her. Meanwhile, in the States, Jason Kai Cooper was in search of his next team sport. Having played football for years, he was coming to terms with the realization that a professional football career might not be in his future. At his older sister’s suggestion, he auditioned for a theater production and became instantly captivated by live performances—plays, music, and magic, with a particular fascination for production and lighting design. Their paths converged in the mid-90s. They dated, married, and in the same year, founded Thomas Cooper Studio.

Yours, mine and ours

As individuals, Sally and Jason embody contrasting approaches to creativity but they are always evolving and in conversation with one another. Historically, Sally thrives in solitude, savoring the freedom to reveal her creativity on her own terms, while Jason finds inspiration in collaboration and the synergy of group effort. But they are deeply in-tune with the nuances that make their dynamic work and that helps them make one another’s work better. Their dynamic partnership reflects the fluidity of creative evolution, where independence and collaboration intertwine to forge new pathways of expression. Together, they navigate the ebbs and flows of creativity, seamlessly transitioning between solitary pursuits and collaborative endeavors to manifest their shared vision.

See Also

Thomas Cooper Studio recently unveiled four new collections— Icarus, Tetra, Verdon, and Gaia. The new pieces exemplify the designers’ exploration of the material and sculptural essence of lighting in a continuation of the brand’s launch, which debuted at ICFF in spring of 2023. 

A stand out piece among the new introductions, the Icarus Single Pendant features selenite crystal feathers attached to a matte black arc. Tetra, composed of nestled together softly-angled blown glass columns, is available in four variations ranging from the Tetra Trio Pendant to the Tetra Chandelier. The only sconce of the new introductions, Verdon, couples natural quartz rock crystal with antique satin cast bronze. Gaia, available in five variations, features clustered heavily pebbled glass lanterns in three stone-inspired shapes.
Tetra – A column of softly angled 4 – and 5-sided seeded shades nestle together with an elegantly simple naturally brooding bronze cross detail and canopy 
Verdon – A most elegant coupling – luminous natural quartz rock crystal posing on an antique satin bronze starburst 
Gaia - A cluster of heavily pebbled and ribbed glass lanterns suspended from solid brutalist bronze frames with cast rough-hewn detailing
Gaia – A cluster of heavily pebbled and ribbed glass lanterns suspended from solid brutalist bronze frames with cast rough-hewn detailing

More about Thomas Cooper Studio

Sally Thomas Cooper studied art history, music, and design in her native New Zealand and has worked as an interior designer, production designer, and marketing director for interior products. Jason Kai Cooper studied scenic and lighting design and has worked as a lighting, theatrical, and product designer. The couple have worked together since 1999 and hold Thomas Cooper Studio as the culmination of their shared design passions. Custom versions tailored to a specific setting are available by commission.

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