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Paul James - Editorial Comment

Issue 59 Feb / Mar 2011

I had great pleasure in taking part in the Value of Light discussion at the IALD Enlighten Europe conference during The ARC Show in January.

Together with Mary Rushton-Beales, Lee Penson and John Mellor, I discussed what it means to use light in architectural projects and the role of the lighting designer in this process. It coincided with the launch of our International Lighting Design Survey which lists over 800 lighting design practices worldwide. With more to be added next year, this will hopefully go some way to further establishing the lighting design profession by publishing an international directory of lighting designers in one document for the first time.

So, what is the value of light? This is a question that I have been asked on a number of occasions by both the uninitiated and design professionals. It’s a difficult one to answer succinctly as there are many facets.

Of course, good (or bad) lighting can have a massive impact on a space, whether it be interior, exterior or a nightscape. Architecture is nothing without light (electric or natural) showing it off to its best potential. Get it right and you truly enhance the beauty of a building. Get it wrong and you wreck the architect’s or designer’s dreams.

Another way to approach the question is in purely financial terms. Good lighting is surely the most energy efficient, economical scheme that can be achieved while not being detrimental to the space being lit. Isn’t it? Well, I hope this never becomes the be-all and end-all of lighting design. After all, lighting design is all about the magical combination of science and art. Take out the art element and we’re left with a very dry, boring subject that I, for one, am not interested in.

However, it appears that a number of events taking place this year are solely concentrating on the energy efficient aspects of lighting with little or no design inspiration taking place. It depresses me looking at the promotional material and the itineraries being put forward by some of these events. Design will always be at the heart of what we do here at mondo*arc and, I’m glad to say, at The ARC Show and IALD Enlighten conference too - two events that are very close to my heart. The emphasis is very much on good quality lighting design rather than focusing on illuminance data. This year’s show was testament to this design ethos, back in the heart of the design community in London and full of design-led companies filling an important role within the lighting specification industry.

That is a role that, I hope, we also fill as a magazine and this issue is no different. The art of retail and museum lighting is often reduced to how efficient the lighting can be, particularly when a chain of stores or a large gallery space is concerned. The projects included here have more to them than that. The museums (MAXXI, Neues and Women & Children) are some of the most exciting spaces I have seen and the lighting design is truly inspirational. And I can’t wait to one day visit Toronto to step into the enchanting Advice from a Caterpillar store. Great lighting. Great design. Now isn’t that a great idea...

* Many thanks to all of you who supplied information for the ‘International Lighting Design Survey’. If you are a lighting designer, manufacturer or distributor and you wish to be included in next year’s survey then please contact us or visit the website:


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