Shining lights: How Robert and Tessa Salter of TDC Cordless Lighting illuminate everywhere they go

Robert and Tessa Salter

Robert and Tessa Salter - Credit: Archant

Gina Long finds out how a couple’s company look to the future, anticipate the ‘new norm’ for events and come up with a solution which also provides Covid-19 resistant shades

A country wedding

A country wedding - Credit: Archant

Just a year ago, TDC Cordless Lighting’s ground-breaking technology and stunning range of lamp bases and shades, were seen gracing the tables at royal weddings, the AMFAR Charity Ball in Cannes and across a range of hit television series and films.

A record 12 months for their business was followed by similar predictions for 2020.

Then they, like so many others, saw their business grind to a halt due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Weddings, corporate, charity events and big and small celebrations had to be cancelled. While painful for those directly affected, it also meant a huge hit for businesses working behind the scenes to ensure every aspect of an event is perfect.

New small post-lockdown lamps

New small post-lockdown lamps - Credit: Archant

Both Robert and Tessa Salter have extensive experience in the hospitality and events industry providing them with a clear understanding of what works – and what can be improved upon.

When it came to the latter, one issue they found was the lack of effective and safe, cordless lighting, that would shine light directly and equally down on to the table, without unsightly and hazardous wires getting in the way, which in turn would also be easier and quicker to install than individually pin spotting tables.

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Robert and Tessa founders and owners of TDC Cordless Lighting, started their business in 2009, working from a converted wardrobe/office in their former home in Shelley, Suffolk. Following the banning of naked flames in many venues across the UK, they addressed a requirement in the hospitality and events sector for functional and decorative cordless table centre lighting, which led them to invent and developing a cordless lighting unit that can be placed into any lamp base and shade with the use of groundbreaking technology.

Tessa spent her formative years, growing up in Suffolk, then going onto work in marketing, PR and the events industry in the UK and overseas, before eventually settling down in London, where she met Robert. They returned to Tessa’s home county when they had a family.

Through years of painstaking research and development, to find the most suitable way to highlight guests, food and flowers in the most flattering, warm and ambient way, the couple created a unique cordless lighting unit that was to prove to be the perfect solution.

Tessa explained: “It took us months of trying to find the right solution before we realised one didn’t exist. We, therefore, set about inventing and designing our cordless lighting solution.

“Before we knew it, we were illuminating dining tables, chill-out areas, bars and reception desks at a whole array of events, be it in prestigious hotels, palaces, private residences, outdoors in fields and meadows, cathedrals, marquees, film sets and public venues around the world.”

“From a rural wedding in a meadow, a 21st on a beach, New Year’s Eve at The Savoy, a launch party for Mini, to the sets of many hit television series, including, The Crown. McMafia and Killing Eve.

“Working with battery manufacturers at home and overseas, Robert went from using a battery the size of two bricks for power to a much smaller and compact unit with an app-controlled bulb that is currently used in our Hire Range, consisting of more than 30 different styles of tall and short table lamps, along with floor lamps and lanterns and a variety of stunning shades, many of which are handmade in Suffolk, with some of our table lamps from Jim Lawrence in Hadleigh.”

“Our latest creation is an even more compact piece of technology, enabling us to provide smaller lamps, small enough to position on small restaurant and bar tables

“Initially these were tried and tested at The Dorchester in London and Maison Bleu in Bury St Edmunds when we officially launched them back in January of this year, we are delighted to have secured several orders from restaurants, bars, hotels, and clubs both in the UK and overseas

“Interestingly, we are finding, even during the lockdown, that inquiries to purchase this size of lamp continue…which may be an indication of the ‘new norm’…smaller tables, fewer guests around each table?’

She said: “With statutory social distancing regulations, the ability to create an ambient and warmly lit setting will help to provide a more welcoming and intimate dining experience.

“Even more importantly and ground breaking news, as of yesterday, is that all our shades are going to be Covid-19 Resistant, thanks to the research and development of antimicrobial and antiviral spray treatment specifically designed for lampshade fabrics by one of our main shade-makers.”

While looking ahead to a new working environment, Tessa allows her mind to cast back to Saturday, March 14 – the last time her lighting was used at an event.

She recalled: “It was a delightfully joyous wedding for a dear friend, who used to work with Robert.

“She brought together all her favourite event suppliers, along with picking and drying masses of flowers from her parents-in-law’s garden, to create a truly memorable and stunning occasion.

“Little did we know that it would be our swansong before the real effects of the coronavirus pandemic were felt. It was a day we shall never forget.

“We dearly miss working with our clients and ensuring they experience a truly memorable event.

“We also miss the terrific fun we have with our colleagues in the industry. We thrive on each other’s creativity and teamwork to deliver truly memorable, unique and special occasions for all.

“While we are not sure when, we anticipate seeing smaller, more intimate, events with social distancing measures in place and a gradual increase in numbers allowed over time.

“The events industry attracts a certain type of person – one who generally isn’t afraid of change and can plan for contingencies.

“We are creative problem-solvers, adaptable, imaginative, flexible, passionate about planning and organising, whilst being good listeners and communicators.

“These are all ideal attributes to help us bounce back, come up with a solution and make it possible for people to safely party again.”

To find out more about TDC Cordless Lighting, visit their website or call 01473 823218.

See them in action setting up an event at Copdock Hall nr. Ipswich