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Characters in the lighting industry: Rogier van der Heide

by Joachim Ritter

It is often the characters circulating in a particular industry that give it its inimitable “flavour”, special characters who tend not to mince their words, who everyone knows, and who often leave the community split into two: those who are declared fans, and those who do not share that level of enthusiasm.

Rogier van der Heide is one such character, the lighthouse among all lighting experts. Formerly a lighting designer of the category IALD Full Voting Member, he is still a lighting designer, but one who is firmly positioned on the other side of the fence and is now regarded differently, or sometimes ignored, by his former independent colleagues. That does not mean that he has not maintained the skills to design lighting or that he has lost any of his design qualities. But the purists in the lighting design world tend to presume the latter is the case. Rogier has opted to view lighting design from another perspective. To be honest, at least he has the advantage of being able to spot developments and potential before many independent designers can do so. And yet many lighting designers cannot, or do not want to, accept this.

At times, Rogier van der Heide can be a bit of a Fidgety Philip. He is regularly invited to give a talk at events around the world. Standing on the stage, doing his best to impart his know-how, he simply cannot stand still and needs two to three square metres, sometimes gesticulating wildly, to express his opinions and communicate his statements. His long blond hair falls forward, half covering his face, and everyone can see how pointless it is to continually attempt to push it back or to one side. For a split second you can see his face and his eyes, which usually look pretty tired given that he spends a lot of his time jetting from conference to conference to represent his current employer through his unique charisma. As a rule, Rogier has to bend over to have a meaningful conversation with an individual. And everyone is waiting for the moment when he engages in a dialogue with Kaoru Mende.

His texts can be clever and witty, and laced with his special sense of humour. Even the way he embarks on a presentation at a conference is unique. Whereas all other speakers graciously thank the organisers for the invitation and opportunity to give a talk, Rogier van der Heide thanks the audience for attending his lecture. Sounds plausible in the first instance, but completely ignores the fact that attendees may also value other speakers and are sitting in the audience because they will also be presenting. Looking back on his professional career, he sometimes associates it with a bike ride from Amsterdam to Dornbirn. Who else, apart from Rogier, would come up with such an analogy? But you can’t really hold anything against Rogier, not anymore.

Roger van der Heide is able to put together presentations and communicate messages that remain in your head forever! Not always, but sometimes – and at any rate no less frequently than any other lighting designer who can go on for hours about his/her career as an independent lighting designer.
Rogier has stopped growing in height, but not when it comes to content. Which is why he continues to find fans and followers around the world who are inspired by his observations and knowledge and his dry sense of humour – or sometimes not.

An industry thrives on the community that forms it – special characters, like Rogier van der Heide.

Photo: Zumtobel

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