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Paul James / Pete Brewis - Editorial Comment

April / May 2014

An introduction to the latest issue from the editor Paul James and deputy editor Pete Brewis ...

Paul James, editor, writes:  
2013 has been quite a year for the lighting designer. As a sign of a maturing profession there has been an influx of new lighting design practices starting up all over the world, but this trend has been in tandem with smaller practices or individual lighting designers joining large engineering and architecture firms. High profile examples of this include Kai Piippo’s Ljusarkitektur becoming part of Nordic engineering giant ÅF – Hansen & Henneberg earlier this year. This has resulted in ÅF Lighting instantly becoming one of the largest lighting design practices in the world with around 70 employees - surely a shape of things to come...

Just over a month ago, the extremely talented Leni Schwendinger, who owned her own practice in New York, joined Arup as associate principal in charge of leading the US urban lighting team. Of course, this isn’t a completely new phenomenon but it does pose the question of where this leaves the independent lighting designer when such exciting, and financially secure, opportunities exist with such firms or even with manufacturers themselves (just take a look at Rogier van der Heide’s career progression culminating in being Chief Design Officer for Philips Lighting). On the flip side, with emerging technology and sustainability issues at the fore, the role of the lighting designer has never been more important. New talent is constantly streaming through with education now on the right track and, with excellent attendances at both IALD Enlighten Americas and PLDC, it seems that the independent lighting design profession has never been so healthy. The challenge is to persuade more clients that the word ‘designer’ is as important as ‘lighting’ so that the technicians don’t corner the market!

2013 also saw the loss of some outstanding lighting designers and the profession is much the poorer without them. Our thoughts go out to the families and friends of Candace Kling, Russell Lipscombe and Derek Phillips this Christmas and New Year. Whilst an obituary to Candice was printed in issue 73, our tributes to Russell and Derek are published in this issue.

Pete Brewis, deputy editor, writes:  There are certain situations in life that will always nudge a man towards a moment of quiet reflection: the changing of the year, for example, or the passing of a hero. To this list, I would add the forced communication black-out of an aircraft cabin. That’s where I sit now, 30,000 feet above the noise of constant connectivity, making my way home from the Tallinn Valgusbiennaal.
While Tallinn isn’t unique in hosting a festival of light, it nonetheless served up a reminder of how far the lighting industry will go to share its love of an elegantly-sculpted lumen. As part of a week of PLDA workshops, teams of lighting novices took on hailstorms and Baltic winds to experiment with different forms of illumination. It is to everyone’s credit that the results were so impressive (see our report next issue) and that all - if you’ll excuse the pun - came away beaming.
The IALD’s Chase the Dark night, held a few weeks earlier, provided a futher example of the lighting design profession’s playful ingenuity. Groups in cities across the world took part in a relay of ‘guerrilla’ events connected and collected under a single hashtag (#IALDchasedark) to form a global, twitter-powered lighting festival.

This is, I reflect as the drinks trolley makes its interminable trundle towards me, an industry well stocked with the inspirational, the dedicated and the passionate. To you all, and to the departed giants on whose shoulders we stand, I raise my tiny plastic Lufthansa glass in admiration. Here’s to more of the same in 2014!



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