The diplomacy in lighting design

Perth, 14th March 2014

This is an issue that not many of us realise but can be critical to the success of every project. Besides being creative beings we lighting designers also need to have a healthy dose of diplomacy in us to navigate the relationships with clients and project team. It is not a matter of just being nice, it is often just a matter of being respectful and diplomatic with the aim to find solutions that not only satisfy us but most of all the client. In the end the client is king, they hire us to get something and even though we might not fully agree or have different recommendations, we cannot enforce something if the client does not see it or cant associate him or herself with it. But the same goes for us, if we cannot reconcile ourselves with the outcome on professional grounds, then we can distance ourselves from it and in some case even remove ourselves from the project if needed. Most of the times this happens more or less “naturally” as communication dries up, you are no longer invited to meeting and the client stops paying your fees in dis-satisfaction.

Diplomacy is the key word to all success stories from my experience. This means not just riding your high horse, but being very mindful what the client actually wants (or understands!) in other words listen and clarify your position or recommendations until he or she does understands. If you are not able to convince your client or reversely you are not able to understand or appreciate your clients desires then it is unlikely that a satisfactory outcome for the project will be reached, not for your client and not for you. I know from experience that there are hopeless cases, where you will never reach a consensus, but as I experienced over the past few days again in my projects finding a middle road can create very happy clients! Lighting design is often a compromise between what we would love to do and what is realistically (economically) possible.

Light Watch 5-43: Diplomacy is often related to relations between countries, but in many events the countries pride, the national flag is used as expression. Here are a few events using the national flag…or the Olympic flag for that matter…

Festakt zum 20. Jahrestag der Deutschen Einheit


Switzerland Jungfrau Centenary




14. March 2014 by Martin Klaasen
Categories: light watch, lighting and culture, lighting applications, lighting design, lighting design practice | 1 comment

One Comment

  1. Martin I’m shure you’ve got the diplomacy already in diapers (as far as I know you from your profile image;)

    Like to meet you in Frankfurt!


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