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Paul James - Editorial Comment

Issue 57 Oct / Nov 2010

Apologies for the self indulgence of this intro (well, not really!) but I figure that one of the benefits of being an editor of a magazine is that, within the boundaries of legality and decency, you can pretty much print what you want. So here is a picture of my daughter Molly P. James who was born on July 15th.

Many thanks to all of you who sent me your best wishes and my appreciation goes to my Deputy Editor Pete Brewis and the team who took over the reigns of the last issue when I was on paternity leave.

But there is a serious point to this. With myself being an editor of this magazine and my wife Verity being a lighting designer it got me thinking that, with the exposure to lighting design she will inevitably get, Molly may well think about a career in ‘the dark arts’ at some stage. So, apart from warning her about the long hours and low pay, I was wondering what a career in lighting design will be like in the future.

For a relatively young profession compared to the architect, the role of the lighting designer has come on leaps and bounds in recent years. In my ten year tenure as editor of mondo*arc I have seen a noticeable increase in the amount of architectural projects where lighting designers are bona fide members of the design team. This has been thanks in no small part to international professional bodies like the IALD and PLDA, as well as individual lighting designers, banging the drum about the importance of lighting designers being part of the creative process from a very early stage and being treated as equals with the likes of architects, interior designers and engineers. Apart from some resistance from a minority of other professions worried that the commissioning pie is being cut too thin, I would say that lighting designers are now seen as crucial for the success of the vast majority of major architectural projects.

I can only see this as increasing in the future as lighting design firms diversify, increase in size and merge and more architectural practices create lighting design departments. The increasing importance of energy efficiency and the utilisation of progressively complicated technology such as LEDs, OLEDs and building automation control will also intensify the need for a lighting professional to become involved.

Obviously, I would like to think that this magazine and other publications have also helped to define the role of the lighting designer. That is why this year we have run a series of interviews with association presidents (see the interview in this issue with new PLDA president Georgios Paissidis for more interesting thoughts on the role of the association); why we pubished our international survey of 50 lighting design practices last year; and why we will be expanding on this by publishing a dedicated research edition, the International Lighting Design Survey, in the new year. This will be a comprehensive directory of lighting designers, manufacturers and distributors country by country that will not only be available to those within our industry but also to architects, designers and end users that employ the services of the lighting professional. We will also be exploring lighting education courses, compiling an inventory of lighting trade shows and conferences, and listing LUCI member cities and international festivals of light. 

As well as being useful now I hope that this publication will go some way to cementing the role of the lighting designer in the future. So, you never know, by the time Molly goes to school, her generation may well think of lighting design as a sound career choice, just like architecture, engineering and interior design. And not just because their parents are involved in the lighting industry.


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