Becoming a lighting designer
Shanghai, 31st January 2010
Sometimes we hang out with our fellow consultants after our project site meetings to get to know each other a bit better socially and invariably I get the question asked how I got into lighting design.
For me it started 30 years ago now. My dream as a teenager was actually to become an astronaut. I passionately followed the US space program to land a man on the moon, so initially I set out to study aeronautics but when I came across the study of Industrial Design I decided that would be a better spring board for me in life. So after completing my master’s degree in Delft, Holland, I went looking for a job and one of the first interviews was with Philips Lighting in Eindhoven. One of the positions on offer was that of a lighting designer. I had never heard of it and had no idea what it involved. My first thought was that it involved making light bulbs :). Curious, I went to the department and found an exciting team of designers working on the most varied type of projects all over the world from hotels to Olympic Games. I immediately liked it and the rest as they say is history. I learned a lot from my time with Philips.
Nowadays we have actual lighting design studies, but in the past people that got into (architectural) lighting design used to come typically from backgrounds in architecture, interior design, electrical engineering, manufacturing or the theatre and stage lighting world. While we would have the basic design understanding, our actual lighting expertise gradually build up through on the job experiences.
I find it therefore always fascinating to know someone’s journey that led him or her to becoming a lighting designer (or any other profession for tha matter). Each of our stories is different but contributes greatly to the (lighting design) personality we eventually become. Interestingly we rarely become what we orginally set out to become!