For lighting that toes the line with art, design insiders call on Christopher Boots. In 2011, Boots founded his namesake company in Melbourne and it quickly amassed a cult following for its sculptural chandeliers, table and floor lamps and wall sconces, all of which are handmade by Australian artisans in the city. Most pieces use brass with clear, smoky and Rose Quartz crystals, stones that the designer developed an affinity for during the extensive time he spent in Brazil, where they are abundant. Though a Christopher Boots piece costs an average of $10,000, a bespoke light can run well into the six figures.
The lighting brand may have Australian roots and use semi precious stones from various corners of the earth, but its biggest market is the United States. It’s no surprise then that the person overseeing this side of the business, James L. Marshall, is vital to the company’s global reach. The director of North American operations wears many different hats, but above all, his approach is as personal as the pieces themselves.
“Purchasing a light with us isn’t just about the fixture itself. There can be a fair bit of complexity involved with each order,” says Marshall, who is based in Los Angeles. “I’m basically the conduit between Christopher and the client.” He describes each purchase as a multi-step process: prior to most custom orders, Marshall visits the space where the light will be displayed to assess what direction, form and crystals may be the best fit.
“A lot of times, our clients want to commission a one-of-a-kind Christopher Boots piece, but need assistance realizing their vision,” he explains. “I work with them to articulate that vision, which could mean five or ten conversations.” Next, Boots sketches the piece based on Marshall’s feedback and passes the concept to his design team to bring to fruition. Marshall then steps in again by running point as project manager. He delivers the light to the client and ensures that it’s properly displayed, aesthetically and technically.
Take, for example, a 400-pound custom-made chandelier encrusted in smoky and clear quartz crystals that the team made for a client in Beverly Hills last year. “It needed to suspend from a skylight, and I cannot tell you how much engineering there was involved to make sure that we did it right and met all the weight requirements, ” says Marshall of the bespoke piece, which cost over $100,000. “I was there every step of the way to see it through.”
Given the geographic diversity of Christopher Boots sales in the U.S., Marshall’s role involves a fair amount of travel around the country. New York is a mainstay, but Miami, Dallas and Chicago are common, too. He emphasizes that maintaining client relationships is integral. Christopher Boots loyalists often purchase multiple pieces over time, he says, and having a personal connection with these buyers is something he values.
The aforementioned Beverly Hills client, for one, bought 20 Christopher Boots pieces for his home. “It was a two year, in-depth process, so of course I got to know him very well and understand his design tastes throughout it,” says Marshall. “The personal touch is what we deeply care about as a company, and that’s what I’m here to deliver.”