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Ab Rogers

Issue 73 June / July 2013

Lighting Talk with Ab Rogers, Principal of Ab Rogers Design and Creative Director of the May Design Series.

What made you become an architectural designer? I grew up marinated in design from an early age - with both parents architects. Though initially I wanted escape from it I gradually worked my way back having become fascinated by the way that design can influence, shape and improve our lives bringing science, poetry, function and philosophy together.

How important is lighting to your designs? It is essential in that it allows things to be seen and shapes the way that they are seen. Its power is often as much in its absence - in the way shadows obscure or soften less attractive elements - as in its presence, its ability to draw positive attention and introduce sparkle and drama.

Why is spending time thinking about and working with light important to you? I believe interior design is a rigorous, diverse discipline within which every one of the many disparate elements involved needs to be controlled and investigated. Bad lighting can kill a space as effectively as good lighting can make colours and textures come to life. Understanding how light works in a space - how natural light will work with electric light and how this juxtaposition will change from day to night, is a vital part of making its design feel resolved.

How to you approach lighting a building through architecture? As with all kinds of design it is about understanding which element is the hero, what atmosphere and emotion a space needs to evoke, what function it needs to support and then breaking down the steps needed to achieve it. 

What role do you think lighting plays in the life of a city? How do you contribute to that through your work? Light animates a city and brings it to life. It allows windows to be transparent during the day. It is a powerful tool that can add dynamics to an urban environment. You just need to look at the skyscrapers in Pudong in Shanghai

What's the best and worst illuminated spaces you have visited? I don't like to talk about worst but there are very many ‘bests' - James Turrell's ‘Play on Light' or Petra Blaisse's pavilion in Venice where she created a palace of light using only mirrors and skylights to harness and control natural light both show beautiful use of light at opposite ends of the spectrum. 

How important is shadow and the balance of darkness and light in your work? Its importance is boundless. Shadow and light are tools that, when used right, can give a fresh interpretation to an existing space or imbue a new one with vibrancy and excitement. No matter the project they can be layered up to create something special.  

How have you brought all your design principles together to create the cityscape at May Design Series? Through hard work, rigorous design and collaboration we have tried to use light as tool to illuminate magical elements, to obscure the necessary but less beautiful items and to create streets, avenues and parks in different lines for people to explore.



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