Ilan El

Words: Manuela Millan

Lighting designer Ilanel invited us into his St Kilda studio to share and talk about his work, his creative process and his plans for the future.


Ilanel is inspired by natural phenomena and uses light to bring his objects to life. Many of his pieces feature organic shapes and lines and explore and play with the relationship between light and the objects themselves.

Ilanel is a trained architect who established his lighting studio seven years ago and has since found worldwide acclaim. He has designed lighting for an extensive range of projects, from private residential, hospitality and commercial spaces to special events such as the 2016 Save the Children Illumination Gala at The Plaza in New York.

Heavy Rain

Heavy Rain

Black Rain

Black Rain

I enjoy what I’m doing and every time we finish a new light you can see me jumping in the studio.
— Ilan el



MM: What is your creative process?

IE: It varies. Sometimes it starts just from seeing something across the road that triggers an idea. I usually like to let ideas sit in the back of my head for a little while. Even when I need to design stuff and I’m actively working and sketching, I like to put it aside and leave it, and do something completely different. The next day I’ll revisit it and sometimes I’ll take this and that and combine the two to create something completely new.

I also enjoy working with other designers. It’s always stimulating for me, collaborating with interior designers to create a product that we’ve never seen or done before.

Sometimes you continue to develop a light for years. Just because we’ve launched it, that doesn’t mean that the design process is done.

MM: What’s your favourite material to work with?

IE: Metal! I love working with steel, brass, copper, aluminium, anything. It is malleable despite being a hard material. It’s got warmth, cold, roughness and softness, it’s got beautiful finishes and textures to it and you can do pretty amazing things with it.

I also use porcelain and sometimes glass. We started to work more with glass lately, and there’s a great glass blower around the corner.

MM: Can you recommend a good cafe?

IE: Joinery Café, actually there are so many good places, but Joinery café is near where I live and I love it.

Claypots just off Ackland Street is amazing. Combi is unbelievable for breakfast. I also really like Misuzu’s for Japanese food.

MM: What are your plans for the future?

IE: It’s a big question. I’d like to just keep doing what I’m doing and developing that. I enjoy what I’m doing and every time we finish a new light you can see me jumping in the studio. We’ve got a few cool projects going on that I’m really excited about, and we’re trying to get US certifications for our products.