Shining a New Light on Design in Cincinnati

Photography by Gary Baker and Tracy Doyle


Whether you do modern or don’t, Switch Lighting’s new showroom on Fourth Street is a must-see stop for people passionate about design.

Early trendsetters and an integral part of the Over-the-Rhine renaissance, Drew Dearwester and Bertie Ray III opened Switch Lighting’s first location on Vine Street in 2008. As one of the first retail shops in OTR, they enjoyed success bringing style and design to the region.

This year, they opened the doors on their new multi-level location downtown. The growing West Fourth Street design district features several retail locations including Bromwell’s fireplaces, Bang & Olufsen electronics, Main Auction Galleries and Unheardof clothing and shoes, plus a fresh crop of restaurant destinations.

“We needed more elbow room to showcase our unique lighting lines from Italy, Spain and the U.S., plus our modern furniture,” says Dearwester. “Our goal is to create a unique and novel shopping experience for a broad audience here, not simply re-create our Vine street location.”

The result is a beautifully curated space that fuses a richly layered mix of historic hardwood floors, exposed brick and ultramodern fixtures. “We carefully decreased our product lines to feature each manufacturer more selectively by panel. This helps customers experience the aesthetics of each brand purposefully.”

The four-story building has been transformed into a one-of-a-kind showroom, or more aptly, a teaching space. Yet, the uber-chic location feels cheerful and friendly. And that’s intentional. Both owners are living their mission to share their design knowledge with the profession, individuals and the world.

“We are excited to bring this inspirational space to the design community and lovers of design,” says Ray. “We looked for space for over a year and I knew we had something special when Drew walked in and just stopped. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of lighting and can sit with any architect, builder or homeowner to find the exact right piece. Many people say they’ve never been in a showroom like ours before and they are awestruck.”

After working together for more than a decade, the owners seem to finish each other’s sentences. “We liked the historic nature of the 1886 building, the rawness of it, the textures of the brick and the views down Fourth Street,” says Dearwester. “We kept the integrity of the building, added the layers of panels to display premium lighting collections from Europe such as Axo Light from Italy and Bover from Spain.”

Indeed, the space has a feel of a curated gallery or welcoming teaching space. “Extreme customer service is one of our mottos here,” says Ray. “Everyone who walks over our threshold gets the same intense customer service whether they are a homeowner looking for one fixture or a commercial builder working on a large project.”

The duo wants to help open people’s minds to fresh design and modern aesthetics. “Some people may come in saying that they are not inclined to ‘do modern,’ ” says Dearwester. “But a big part of our mission is introducing customers to the possibilities. In Europe, the old world is constantly balancing with the new. The integration of modern pieces in centuries old spaces works beautifully when designed correctly. We like to help people see that and to create a look that’s all their own.”

As part of their commitment to the community, Switch is making the space available to rent for fundraisers, corporate events or parties. “It’s all a part of the reinvention of retail and helping to revitalize the downtown area,” says Ray. 


Switch Lighting & Design is located at 312 West Fourth Street (513.421.1901) and 1207 Vine Street (513.721.8100), Cincinnati, OH 45202. To talk with Drew and Bertie, email or visit