Official PLDC warm-up in collaboration with UL
by Joachim Ritter
The call for a minimum level of quality is becoming louder. Many designers and clients feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with the issue of whether they have managed to reach the level of safety stipulated for the products they specify or apply. The reasons for more stringent quality management requirements lie, on the one hand, in the risks arising from a global market and, on the other hand, in the competition through the price pressure from the Far East, which is swamping the globe. Strangely enough, very few people link the price of a product with the quality of that product. As a result, even high-quality suppliers of lighting solutions are compelled to succumb to lower pricing and forgo larger profit margins. There comes a point, however, where someone has to put his foot down with a firm hand. Especially when the quality of light is not only a question of technology but also a human-oriented issue.
The term Human Centric Lighting (HCL) is widely used by high-quality suppliers of lighting products and systems right now… and actually describes the work a lighting designer does pretty well: designing spaces for humans. This is therefore also an argument for gaining more recognition for the lighting design profession – a big chance to come nearer to establishing the profession – provided lighting designers can prove they know how to design lighting in order to satisfy the demands of this new approach.
Manufacturers of high-grade HCL products and product ranges are prepared to go to considerable lengths to ensure their quality products end up in the hands of qualified designers. Otherwise they would once again be compelled – as they were in the seventies – to continue to activate, or educate, their own design departments. That would be like making the same mistake all over again, which neither the lighting design community nor the lighting industry really want, but which will become unavoidable if the independent lighting designers don’t deliver.
Who is in a position to offer Human Centric Lighting products on the market today is another question. UL stands for Underwriters Laboratories and is originally from the USA. UL is a global independent safety science company with more than a century of expertise innovating safety solutions from the public adoption of electricity to new breakthroughs in sustainability, renewable energy and nanotechnology. Dedicated to promoting safe living and working environments, UL helps safeguard people, products and places in important ways, facilitating trade and providing peace of mind.
In the field of lighting UL is now globally promoting new standards and offering services to certify quality products and services. We as the organisers of PLDC 2015 are happy to welcome UL as a sponsoring partner of the event in Rome. In collaboration, we are also staging a warm-up in Milan together within the framework of Euroluce. Please note down the 15. April, 2015.
UL services and expertise bring new opportunities to light.
Rapidly evolving thinking about energy efficiency and public safety – along with exciting technological advances – is driving the evolution of the lighting industry, providing greater opportunities and growing challenges. Designers and manufacturers can leverage UL’s safety science expertise, worldwide presence, and active involvement in the lighting industry to gain accelerated access to the global marketplace and to meet regulatory requirements.
Leverage UL’s global lighting expertise in testing, certification and standards development activities.
UL testing, certification and global market access services provide efficient, cost-effective entrance to over 50 countries.
UL works to build relationships with the entire lighting supply chain, including manufacturers, retailers, showrooms, designers, regulatory authorities, government agencies and consumers. UL is the only independent laboratory currently serving on the Zhaga Consortium Steering Committee, an industry group that is developing specifications to enable interchangeability for LED light sources made by multiple manufacturers.
UL meets the needs of the lighting industry so effectively because they know the industry from the inside out. Their active leadership in lighting standards development committees and industry technical task groups and their participation in global industry conferences and trade shows allow them to deepen their understanding of the ever-evolving lighting industry and to share this critical business intelligence with customers.
In response to the high-pressure deadlines that are part of doing business in this industry, they have further enhanced their capacity to accommodate short turnaround time requests. UL’s five state-of-the-art performance and energy efficiency laboratories, located around the globe, help speed the testing process. Test results can be delivered in just five business days for IEC’s LM-79 testing and in seven days for DesignLights Consortium testing.
The breadth of UL service offerings enables customers to take advantage of cost-saving bundling offers and to eliminate unnecessary redundant testing. Thus customers can meet the performance and energy efficiency requirements in support of programmes such as ENERGY STAR®, California Energy Commission, DesignLights Consortium, Lighting Facts, NRCan and Zhaga. Additionally, UL regularly conducts testing to IESNA LM-79, IESNA LM-80, IESNA LM-82 and fluorescent lamp ballast testing requirements. UL’s trusted expertise and network of accredited global laboratories convincingly demonstrates adherence to safety and energy efficiency standards to regulatory authorities.
Anyone who is interested in learning more about UL is welcome to attend the official PLDC warm-up on the occasion of Euroluce 2015 in Milan. Please register here. Tickets are limited.
The team behind the Chinese fashion label Dazzle have enhanced the reputation of their prestigious brand by opening two new-look stores. The concept reflects the brand’s desire to maintain a feminine touch, expressed unconventionally in fashion terms, whilst at the same time conveying the exclusivity of the products on display.
The first Dazzle store, located in Shanghai’s Kerry Center, comprises an extremely dynamic space featuring clean design in a style which might be termed baroque minimalist. The layout of the space is developed around rhomboid-shaped volumes with rounded corners which divide the spatial layout, creating pure white partitions which, reminiscent of a theatre stage, cut through the original store and build a powerful space.
The lighting design concept features a cove lighting system with a series of concealed Yori LED projectors, which winds its way through the softened volumes of the architectural space. The luminaires have a colour temperature of 3000K and a colour rendering index of >90 to truly showcase the garments. They boast a power consumption, including driver-related loss, of just 23.9 watts for a luminous flux of 2028 lumens from the LED source. Unimosa adjustable ceiling recessed luminaires complete the set-up.
The lighting design comprises layers of light, on the one hand lighting up the space and emphasising the materiality and texture of the partitions, and on the other hand creating accents and highlighting the colours and materials of the garments and accessories on display.
The second store, Diamond-Dazzle, is located inside Beijing’s Oriental Plaza Shopping Mall. The style of the space has a strong European palace vibe, with the various rooms connected via brass doorways. The ceilings are different in each space, enriched with classic-pattern plaster motifs, while the floor is embellished with stone inserts and carpets. The rooms have received marble and plaster panels in the shape of curtains to reflect the drapery typical of aristocratic homes. The use of warm grey with tones of pink and white creates a luxurious, feminine ambience.
Here too, the lighting design integrates perfectly with the shapes of the architectural space. The LED luminaires are mounted inside coves in the ceiling, in niches in the walls, or recessed into the ceiling. Inside the coves, Yori projectors with articulated brackets and Unimosa recessed ceiling luminaires offer a colour temperature of 3000K, a colour rendering index of >90 and a lumen package of 93 lm/W.
As in the first store, the lighting design is composed of layers of light to showcase the garments and articles on display, without undermining the values expressed by the architecture. In both stores the luminaires are equipped with a selection of accessories, shields and diffusers to reduce glare and improve the customer’s in-store experience.
Location: Shanghai / Beijing, China
Interior design: Cristofori Santi Architetti
Lighting design: Rossi Lighting
Photos: Dazzle; Cristofori Santi
Luminaires: Reggiani Illuminazione
by Joachim Ritter
Of course, we can’t give you the final list of attendees at PLDC 2015 in Rome now already. But what we can say is that the chances are very high that you will meet many renowned, experienced and ongoing lighting designers as well as clients, architects, researchers, educators, students and lighting industry people from all over the world. More than you would ever meet at any other conference around the globe. Some lighting design practices will even be closing their offices down completely during the week PLDC takes place.
A leading lighting design practise from UK has decided to bring his complete team to Rome. That means 18 lighting designers. Lighting designers sees the value PLDC offers in the way of high-quality education, discussions and activities – and the international network – for his design team. From previous years we know that other design practices have made similar decisions. During the PLDC week, the lighting design world in the offices takes a break, and a deep breath, to be able to take the next step into the future based on educated decisions.
We also often see groups of designers forming and coming as a delegation representing their respective country. For example, a group of 20 lighting designers plus ten architects from Iran are expected to attend this year’s event in Rome. This is ten times more than we counted for PLDC 2013 in Copenhagen. Traditionally the Finnish designers also come as an organised group. Up to 30 designers are expected from this part of Northern Europe – and that is without those who register individually. For groups of at least ten we offer special deals and arrangements. Group registration forms are available.
Specific international networks will be holding meetings at PLDC. The EILD group has been a partner of PLDC since 2011 in Madrid. They will be meeting to prepare their 2016 conference in Brazil on board level. We also welcome the Visual Ergonomics researchers. They will offer a workshop for everyone on the Wednesday afternoon in the form of a pre-convention meeting.
Also we notice a tremendous growth of interest on our website. This year the page impressions on our website are extraordinarily high. Compared to the same time two years ago, we have counted a total growth in page impressions of over 120%. In February 2015 alone, when the programme was released, growth was recorded as being at 150%. The third year in a row we are doubling the numbers of page impressions on our website. Until now we have counted 180,000 impressions. By PLDC, we expect around 500,000 impressions in total.
We also expect a strong growth in the number of architects and clients attending PLDC this year. The event is seen as an increasingly important marketplace to further development in the field of professional politics and lighting design knowledge. Slowly but surely light is becoming acknowledged as an important issue in architectural design – and this needs taking care of by skilled designers.
by Joachim Ritter
The basis for lighting design is not light but darkness. According to Christian belief, we all started from nothing, and from darkness. And then God said: Let there be light! Not man, nor beast, nor nature, but light. We can of course argue as to whether this makes sense of not, or whether there was something else more important than light. What is clear – according to the Bible at any rate – is that it was not light that God came across when preparing for the creation. It was darkness He had to get right first. Which is why it is also darkness that lighting designers need to focus their design skills on – or should be focussing their design skills on. And yet for many designers light still forms the core of all their actions, probably because they are not aware of the underlying principle of design.
If we are looking for literature on shadow design, we tend to refer to “In Praise of Shadow” by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki. A small book, but a standard work destined for eternity. And yet not powerful enough to change the design world. A recently published work has now taken it upon itself to address the topic anew – a wonderfully modern approach to amending our current awareness of the meaning of shadow. “You Say Light – I Think Shadow” by lighting designer and artist Aleksandra Stratimirovic and graphic designer Sandra Praun, who partnered the project, comprises references and thoughts from numerous authors who appreciate shadow in the way it deserves.
That does not mean to say that the book is a compilation of superficial ideas. Nor is it a collection of profane platitudes. And it definitely does not feature any of the shallowness you find on the Internet. The project does not contain the kind of images and photos which could easily have described to us what light means to us. It is a book full of ideas and perceptions with depth, which gain power through the selected texts and abstract graphics. A real winner. And an honour for any author who was selected to present his/her perception of shadow and the close relationship between light and shadow.
“You Say Light – I Think Shadow” is proof of the fact that the quality and depth of a book cannot always be transferred to the Net. It demonstrates that holding a book in your hands and leafing through it is a feeling comparable to a journey of discovery. It speaks of the love you feel for light or shadow, which would get lost if you tried to access it via the Internet.
Congratulations to the artist, lighting designer and author Aleksandra Stratimirovic and her project partner graphic designer Sandra Praun. I count myself especially lucky because I received a personal note from Aleksandra together with the book. This note is part of the book for me and a true delight.
This is one of the last books that deserve to be designated as an absolute must in a library.
“You Say Light – I Think Shadow”
Aleksandra Stratimirovic and Sandra Praun
Texts in English.
Art and Theory Publishing
by Joachim Ritter
I am often asked how we decide on the Keynote Speakers for PLDC. Before I answer this question in detail, I would need to know how familiar you are with the Big Bang Theory. I mean the real one on television, not the ancient one about 13,000,000,000 years ago.
We really had a huge discussion and a hard time to decide between Sheldon Cooper, Penny or Prof. Proton. Guess, who I voted for? But it did not work out. In the end there really was no nerd who knows enough about lighting research or lighting design.
In fact, that seems to be our problem. We have so much knowledge to learn within the lighting design field, but really no nerds…except of Shuji Nakamura, Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano…
Anyway, let’s say the Big Bang family to me is like the lighting design community. We have a few nerds and strong characters, sometimes their behaviour is odd, or even embarrassing, but most of the time they are good fun and are always good for never-ending stories about life, survival, and surprising relationships.
But there is another difference worth mentioning. In the Big Bang Theory they don’t have bad guys. Or at least you can’t identify them because they are still somehow charming. As I said, that is the difference to the lighting design world. But let’s not go deeper into this.
Let me return to the decision about the Keynotes. We always aim to secure Keynotes who are able to give some inspiration to the lighting design community, especially on issues regarding developments in the lighting design market and relating to the profession.
Being in Italy and having Light and Culture as one of our main focuses, we initially looked for persons who can eleaborate on this idea, and we are delighted to have already gained Ilaria Abbondandolo, Cultural Secretary of the Centro Internazionale di Studi di Architettura Andrea Palladio (International Centre for Architectural Studies ‘Andrea Palladio’).
Klaus Obermaier’s work points towards the future of media art. From our experience, this is an experimental field but will have increasingly more impact on architecture and lighting design in the years to come.
Who else will be there? We still have a few surprises up our sleeve. Some things take time, but they’re worth it.
By the way: When you google “The big bang theory” guess what you get…
CIBSE acknowledge PLDC for CPD credits
by Joachim Ritter
The fifth edition of the Professional Lighting Design Convention, PLDC 2015 in Rome will continue in the vein of what has proven to be a highly effective and successful modern convention concept. The educational event is built around communication and the active sharing of knowledge and know-how. This year we are anticipating welcoming more than 1500 attendees. Besides the groups we have targeted to date – lighting designers, educators, researchers, students and representatives from the lighting industry – a larger number of architects, as well as public and private clients, are expected to be present in Rome. Expanding our target groups in this way illustrates our medium-term strategy to encourage all those involved in architectural projects to understand more about light, and how and why it is applied.
The motto of this year’s event, “An educated decision”, points to the fact that lighting design is a specialist discipline which is based on scientific findings and knowledge from the fields of medicine and technology – and that it can be learned. Whereas in the past some people have referred to lighting design as something you are born with, we have now come to recognise that architectural lighting, like any other design disciplines, is based on design principles that can be learned. That is to say: every decision made during the design process is an educated decision and not exclusively subjective or arbitrary.
We again received more than 250 paper submissions, and again only 72 could be selected for PLDC in Rome. Everyone knows when they respond to the Call for Papers that not every paper can be accepted, but needless to say those who were not chosen were disappointed. Basically, only one in three submissions received is included in the final programme. This does not mean to say that two thirds of the paper submissions were not important or relevant. It means that the 72 papers presented at PLDC were triple blind reviewed and their topics and content were assessed as being most important for the lighting design world right now.
But PLDC offers far more than a high-quality conference programme. This year attendees can sign up for excursions to projects in Rome, visit a series of Experience Rooms, take part in moderated discussions outside the conference rooms, join social networking events, attend pre-convention meetings, witness Round IV of our young speakers competition The Challenge, visit the manufacturers’ exhibition, and book a seat at the traditional gala evening for the PLD Recognition awards that concludes the overall event.
Last but not least, I would like to mention that established institutes and associations accept PLDC as a high-quality event and valuable educational activity. The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers, CIBSE acknowledge this by granting CPD points for attendance.
From start to finish, there are ample opportunities to expand your personal knowledge and skills and develop your professional career, all in line with Jim Rohn’s philosophy: “Formal education will make you a living, but self-education will make you a fortune!”
Please check out the complete program here.
by Joachim Ritter
There is still hope. Sometimes things that are an absolute nuisance turn out to be meaningful and cool. For example, every spring I make a huge effort to remove all the green algae stuff from the paths and paved areas around our house. But today I learned that algae can actually be used to produce fuel. Now, the amount I have in my garden would not be sufficient to put an end to fracking, but it’s the thought that counts, right?
Today food crops are being used for energy production, while millions are going hungry. Algae can help solve this dilemma. They are undemanding and even thrive in salt water basins set up on barren fields. They need sunlight to grow.
Scientists estimate that there are over 50,000 species of algae and cyanobacteria. Of these, 5000 are known. But, so far, only ten have been exploited with commercial success. Upon closer investigation of specific types of algae, scientists have discovered a variety of promising products. Many algae produce intermediate chemicals and synthesize protein mass and fats. While protein mass could be used as livestock feed, the fats could be converted into fuels.
Together with Berlin-based LED manufacturer Futurled, researchers from the Technical University Munich (TUM) have developed a technique for simulating a wide range of lighting and climate conditions. The highly efficient LEDs provide light with wavelengths between 400 and 800 nanometers and a radiation intensity of 1000 watts per square meter with an intensity distribution that very closely models natural sunlight.
This kind of facility would not have been possible using either incandescent or fluorescent lamps. Incandescent lamps generate too much heat and fluorescent lamps cannot produce the full spectrum of sunlight in the required intensity. Using LEDs it is possible to trigger specific, targeted wavelengths.
And where is all this leading to? It all points towards algae cultivation farms to produce the fuels we need. Let’s do it!
by Joachim Ritter
A while ago I decided to call myself a lighting designer. Every Christmas I illuminate my house and our front garden. And I have also installed a number of new luminaires in our home. All my guests were impressed by the lighting in my living-room and, as it happens, I am also saving a lot of energy, because I use LEDs, which can also change colour.
My friends were so inspired that they have asked me if I could help them transform their homes with a little light. “Sure,” I told them jokingly, “I’ll do anything for money…”.
Naturally, all my friends wanted to pay me for my work. That’s what they said anyway.
I set about taking photos of my friends’ homes, which I then edited using Photoshop. I made the images look generally darker and proceeded to add some brighter areas – and a touch of colour here and there. Some of the images I photoshopped to the same level of brightness, but using different colours. That was my way of depicting dynamic light. It looked really good, and certainly convinced my friends.
They were pretty excited to say the least and insisted that I start adding some new luminaires to their homes right away! One of my friends is a businessman and even asked me to create a new lighting scheme for his office – and to choose some new lamps for his car park while I was at it. That was a bit much for me, which is why I left it to a lighting manufacturer, who was good enough to create a nice looking CAD drawing for me that I could pass on to my friend. He thought it was great, especially since by using LEDs he can achieve energy savings of 40%. I enjoyed helping him out and charged him a lump-sum fee of € 1500. Actually, it should have been € 2000, but he persuaded me to lower the fee to € 1500. In return, I asked him to write a testimonial for my website.
AR Lighting Design stands for Architecture Reality Lighting Design.
My next two projects were even bigger. At any rate, I had completed three projects in all, which I delivered “with a little help from my friends” in the lighting industry. I received some reimbursment for my effort from them. It was a percentage per luminaire.
For some time now I have been active in various forums and groups in LinkedIn and have posted a significant number of comments. I have gathered quite a number of new friends that way, and some of them are even followers of mine. Last week I received an invitation to give a paper at a conference in New York City. Unfortunately, I can’t go because I have applied to be a workshop head for the “festival” in Alingsås.
In the meantime I decided to apply for membership in a lighting designers’ association. I had written comprehensive reports on all three projects and handed all the documents in with my application. Now I am a member of an association for professional lighting designers.
I contacted a university and asked if any young designers might be interested in doing an internship with me. And now I have two employees. I was then approached by a client to design the lighting for a large-scale project. That was really a bit much for me so I decided to cooperate with a lighting designer with more experience than me. The project is now completed and looks stunning – with a media façade and everything. In fact, I think I might submit it for a design competition and try to win an award. Lots of people have said the project is really amazing. I am sure I will win something, and then I’ll be a real lighting designer …
What am I?
by Mark A. Carlson
We have reached that moment in time when a decision can no longer be placed on the table for future discussion. Regardless of whether the industry acts, I believe we are beginning to slide backwards given the current acts of encouragement to devalue our professions. We are well past the time to just “think about it.” The Lighting Design community needs to come together now and contribute to defining what we are, what it is we do, why we do it, and how we do it.
We exist in a state of confusion. Neither the consumer nor the trade practitioner has any clear understanding of these questions. If we, as an industry or as an individual artist cannot properly project the benefits we provide for society, then we will continue to lack recognition and advancement. And when I say advancement, I mean increased income opportunities. We must be proactive and act.
Although I am speaking directly to my small niche community of Landscape Lighting Designers, I do not believe that it is any different for most any other Lighting Designer. We are all part of one common community. In the past two years, I have seen several impactful changes – matters are getting worse.
If time allowed, I could go to great lengths to describe these problems, but that is not my intention here. Rather, it is my purpose to generate movement. However, I would like to make one brief point about a topic that I believe is causing the discrediting of our profession. Our markets are saturated with manufacturers and so-called manufacturers (importers) who provide knockoff products under a different name. This oversaturation is one of the primary causes of our price wars. It serves to encourage the devaluation of quality in both products and services.
Services are affected because they are equally associated with cost control. Lighting installers are greatly impacted by these measures and services must be competitive. In many instances, corners are being cut in order to maintain labor costs and to align with the decrease in product costs. This only provides the consumer with a cheapened experience. Should the contractor decide to stand above this and maintain his service costs, then he stands a greater chance of losing a prospective buyer. Although, this strategy should be encouraged – to identify one’s qualities through higher quality standards.
This is all I will say for now, as I would rather provide and inspire solutions. The focus here will be in finding the best path to take and to act upon it.
Providing value is our solution
Our solution is both simple and complex: to provide the market with an understanding of our associated value, as a Lighting Designer. Most consumers do not understand the importance of light nor do they fully appreciate how we apply light to make our spaces more comfortable and pleasurable.
As stated earlier, the consumer is confused…..we have no unifying message or standards. Many see us in the same light as the common electrician and in worse cases, the handyman! This is a bold reflection, as many consumers believe they can perform their own lighting services within the scope of a Do-It-Yourselfer project. This is a scary thought, yet a daily occurrence. Why would someone believe that they can perform these services on their own without any proper training or experience? Why does the consumer market believe that working with electricity is safe and easy? The only reason is because we have failed to properly educate them – they are clueless!
What is encouraging the market to perform lighting design services or electrical work? It is the internet and easy access to information. Anyone can find instructional information and how-to videos on YouTube. This kind of exposure is both good and bad. It serves to educate, but it also encourages consumers to do it themselves. The inherent problem is that there are no controls established. We cannot ensure that the proper information or advice is being disseminated.
Let us take a moment to analyze what currently exists. The typical consumer of our products and services does not understand the extent of Lighting Design. This explains why we are not properly appreciated or even compensated. What is likely to be the primary concern of these consumers? It is cost. This is a huge barrier and issue for each of us to overcome. Unfortunately, this is a big discriminating factor which exists at the front-end of every job. We are forced to “prove” ourselves over and over again.
Why don’t we ask ourselves what the root of the problem is, as it applies to this cost battle? The problem lies in the form of education and awareness. It is nothing more than a lack of understanding. This needs to be the primary focus for the lighting industry. The consumer and trade practices need to be taught what is acceptable practice and the importance of why we are so necessary in their lives.
One of the great challenges we face is how to define ‘good’ lighting versus ‘poor’ or ‘bad’ lighting. Unfortunately, this inevitably means dealing with subjective comments. How can one say that another person’s design is not good? Herein lies the challenge. However, there has to be a set of basic practices and principles to follow. These guidelines should use safety as their premise for best applications, as there is no disputing that this is of the utmost concern.
Going back to the primary objective here, we must place value on what we do. Value is the key to a successful future that is advancing.
What is hurting the value proposition?
There are several things that are hurting this value proposition. One, I believe, is the defining of the terms and/or titles we use. This might sound a little odd, but it all makes sense when it adds to the consumer’s confusion. Take for example the particular term or title, “Professional.” What is one suppose to know about this? We should all ask the following:
• What does this word really mean?
• What does it mean to the lighting industry?
• What does this word imply in one’s title?
No value has been given to this word, and this leaves consumers to only guess or believe what they are told. What are we or they supposed to think when the majority of all lighting practitioners call themselves a ‘professional’ or an ‘expert?’ This cannot be true and it is not a valid statement. If there are no parameters, then there is no meaning or value associated with this.
To provide an example, I will utilize my own profession of Landscape Lighting. Currently, we have no real authority or voice. We can perform and provide just about any service without having to prove who we are. Most of us use these titles or terms and make claims without any questions asked. This is a serious problem and a threat to the credibility of our profession. The underlying problem is: we will be associated together under one discipline and valued based upon the acts of everyone’s performance. If a percentage of the trade are making poor decisions (cutting corners, providing inferior products, and performing poor services), then the whole industry will be associated with this. This has been the case for many years – we have been lumped in with the Do-It-Yourselfers and the handyman services.
These inadequacies are making our opportunities to advance even more challenging. This fact alone is reason enough to support a segregation of the practice. Licensing and certification are a means to provide this segregation. If Lighting Designers are to advance and to be properly compensated, then we must separate the good from the bad.
There are many that do not support licensing and certification. I disagree, because it is in our best interest to do so. We must have a means to isolate the good from the not so good. This will be our only means to successfully earn a proper wage and credential. If we cannot properly communicate these differences, then we will continue to encourage the current state of confusion.
The steps we need to take
Please understand that I do not claim to have all of the answers, but I am willing to provide suggestions and steps that I would consider to help advance this cause. The following should serve as a starting point:
1. To develop a control group or authority to oversee and establish these parameters. There must be one authority to act as this voice. It should comprise industry specialists with real and practical experience. It should act as a moderator for the entire group and all industry specialties.
Could this be one of the existing lighting organizations we have? This is unknown, because there may be conflicts associated by country or region. It would be in our best interest to ensure that this is an international effort. However, if this cannot occur, then we need to develop an independent group outside of what exists.
The point is to all come together under one form of control.
2. To define the role and expectations of a Lighting Designer, including the various specialties associated under this title. The general title is established in the broadest sense, and it needs to ensure that it includes all specialty disciplines.
Overall, the control group should provide the elements to define a Lighting Designer. But, the various specialties should gather their own panel of seasoned professionals to act in representing their best interest.
In an effort to spur thought, I am providing a list to consider for these specialty groups:
• Interior vs. Exterior
• Architectural vs. Environmental
• Line Voltage vs. Low Voltage
• Landscape or Garden
• Roadway & Parking
• Public Transit & Airport
3. To quantify and establish the expectations of each title or term as it relates to experience. This will be one of the more difficult areas to achieve. These determinations should be based on education, knowledge, technical ability/skills, and artistic application. They should also consider one’s performance in business and the performance within the art itself. Parameters and measures should be determined at the ‘minimum’ level of requirement.
Time is the relevant parameter for the above determinations. The quantity and quality of these experiences need to be understood. Considerations should be analyzed based on individual parameters and combined parameters. Should any one parameter be ranked higher than another? Again, this will be the most challenging of the tasks.
To summarize these thoughts, here are the items that need to be addressed:
• Classification of experience levels
• Establishment of what is considered ‘professional’ Standards and Practices
• Development of parameters and expectations for each specific discipline
• Segmentation by certification and/or licensing
This is the most important identifying factor for anyone serving in these professions. Experience is the parameter that can define our value. There are two statements made several years ago by the highly respected, Mr. Howard Brandston. I would like to use them here, because I agree with what he said. They are described in issue #79, October 2011 in Professional Lighting Design magazine, under the article, “Lighting Design is an Art”:
“One can be expected to be classified as a Lighting Designer, if one has produced a reasonable amount of work.”
This is exactly where Mr. Brandston questions whether this qualifies one to be considered a professional or not. He continues to explain that all designers may be defined as being ‘practitioners’. His opinion continues, as he asks, “When does one become a professional?” And, here is his response:
“One can only become a true ‘Professional’ when one makes a recognized contribution to the profession. That recognition must come from one’s peers.”
Although I agree with this, I do see a potential for misunderstanding. The first applies to the word ‘reasonable.’ What are these parameters? I am assuming that this is for the broad classification or title of Lighting Designer, but will there be any experience levels established under this?
The next word to question is ‘Professional’. Currently, we have no parameters to measure this, at least not in my specific discipline. Take, for example, the use of this word as it is seen in many organization names….the “Association of XXX Professionals.” Does that not seem to imply that all of their members are professionals? This only adds to the consumer confusion, because nothing has been defined. What if the majority of the members of these groups are primarily considered ‘Practitioners’ and not ‘Professionals?’ Is that not misleading?
Personally, I would highly encourage the Landscape Lighting discipline to have an established classification system for these varying experience levels. These levels should all fall under the title of ‘Practitioner’ until they can be considered a ‘Professional,’ as defined above. We desperately need this reform because there are too many practicing this trade to sub-standard levels.
We cannot wait any longer to define our work, which includes the terms associated with it. Segmentation and the defining of our roles are most important. Advancement cannot occur unless we take action on this score. The consumer has the most to benefit from this and we, as trade representatives, must provide this.
Our value must be established and defined. It must include expectations and standards. This will allow us to justify a fee structure. We need a clear and concise measure to the benefits we provide to the community. Education must first start with the consumer level.
It is our professional duty to actively develop, advance, protect, and preserve the foundations of our practices. The hope of the next generation of Lighting Designers is dependent upon that. Should we fail and continue to be inactive, then we are only closing our door to opportunity. It is time to provide assurances for those seeking a future in this industry.
Mark A. Carlson is the Owner of Avalon Lighting Design located in Roseville, California/USA. He is recognized by his peers as an industry professional and as an award-winning Landscape Lighting Designer. He is an author, technical writer, designer, contractor and consultant in this specialized discipline. He has been working as an artistic craftsman in the field for more than 15 years.
by Joachim Ritter
If you could choose to change anything in your life in retrospect it is more than likely that you would wish to be transported back in time to when you had the opportunity to learn and gain a good education. Many of us feel we would want to put this time to better use, especially since we now have less time at our disposal thanks to our jobs or careers, but also because we may now be financially better off and therefore able to optimise our learning efforts.
To be honest, this is hardly feasible for any of us. Either we do not have the time, or we do not have sufficient funding. That is why we, the society, should be making every possible effort to support those young people who are still in education programmes, or who have recently embarked on their professional careers, and do everything imaginable to enable them to prepare for the future: A future which is also our future.
It is sometimes alarming how little education programmes and initiatives for the coming generation of designers are acknowledged, appreciated and supported. We from VIA Publishing and from the Professional Lighting Design magazine believe that modern-day society needs and deserves good education programmes and that we should not need reminding of this social commitment. We should simply be aware of it all the time.
We are therefore delighted to have found partners who are willing and interested in helping us realise our concept to promote young lighting designers and Lighting Design students. We trust that this first edition of The Challenge will develop over the coming years and attract more attention and support. Philips, Reggiani, as well as Ansorg, Xicato and the Society of Light and Lighting, have offered their generous support this year to make the first year of The Challenge possible.
The response and interest we as initiators and organisers of The Challenge have met with to date has been tremendous. Even in the early stages of the competition the enthusiasm demonstrated by all involved confirmed that we were on the right track with this project. The Challenge has brought us in contact with young designers who are able to present their theses and ideas extremely competently and already as students, or after only just having graduated, are offering the kind of content in their papers that are worthy of being presented at a professional conference. And we are honoured to be able to count on the guidance and support from true lighting professionals, who have all been working passionately to help perfect what the young talents have been working on, both from the point of view of content as well as with advice on how to best present the material. How much more fruitful and concrete can education get? And mutually beneficial into the bargain – the experienced lighting designers acting as coaches are also gaining new knowledge and inspiration.
In Round III of our speaker competition in Edinburgh only five of the 15 young designers who have made it so far will be selected to continue to the final round at PLDC in Rome. And one of these five will leave Rome as the overall winner of the competition. But every one of the 15 in Edinburgh for Round III are also entitled to feel they are winners: in the process of The Challenge they have gained a tremendous amount for their personal development and have undergone a unique experience that they will remember for a long time to come.
See here for more oinformation: The Challenge