Why Lighting Design?
Your project has a budget. Maybe it's a tight budget. (Let's face it, it is always a tight budget.) You can't afford a lighting designer, right? Not so fast...
There seems to be a perception that a lighting designer is a project luxury. Why?
Every project has a budget. Even though you may have to bite a bullet to pay a design fee up front, you should think of that fee as part of the overall lighting budget. Whatever total dollar amount you have in the bucket to pay for lighting - tell your lighting designer. They can design to that budget, including their fee! With this model, you have the added transparency of knowing exactly what part of your money went to design costs and what part went to product costs. Design costs aren't hidden in the cost of light fixtures sold to you.
Remember, no one is designing lighting for free. They may offer "free" design, but the cost of their service is wrapped up in the cost of the products they are selling.
A lighting designer will be there from start to finish of project, solving any problems that arise along the way, keeping costs in control by knowing product prices and preventing unnecessary overages, keeping change orders in check by being your advocate during construction. Lighting designers are worth their fees in gold. They know which products perform best and at what cost. They design more efficient solutions that save you money - initially or over the life cycle of the product. They inform you of rebates and tax deductions you can use to help pay for your project. Remember, no one is designing lighting for free. They may offer "free" design, but the cost of their service is wrapped up in the cost of the products they are selling. The only product an independent lighting designer is selling is the best solution for your project. Don't you want someone with your best interest in mind?
At Your Service
I just came across this New York Times article about the 24/7 work culture in service industries. Lighting design most definitely falls into this category of professions beholden to the whims of the client.
At Envision Lighting Design, we strive to build a culture that will work both for our team and our clients.
Enlighten: Learn. Forget your preconceived notions. Ban assumptions.
Enhance: Improve. Make it better. Be solutions-oriented.
Enjoy: Have fun. Love the process. Love the final product.
I recently had the fun opportunity to create a float for my church in a lighted Christmas parade. We didn't have much time, but I think we came up with a pretty elegant solution, and our float won first prize in the parade.
What do you think? We are already formulating our concept for next year's parade. Any suggestions?
As Courtney heads back to school for her senior year, we asked her to write a summary about her summer at ENvisionLD. Good luck at school this year, Courtney! We miss you already!
I would like to take the time to thank Envision Lighting Design for my internship experience this past summer. I have developed valuable leadership skills, the value of teamwork, and real world experience. It has been such a welcoming and positive environment to work in.
Working for Envision Lighting Design has allowed me to apply my knowledge from my previous internship as well as my schooling so far. I have made connections with people that I never would have had the opportunity to meet if it wasn’t for Lisa. With this experience I feel one step closer to being confident in starting my career after just one short year left of college.
Envision Lighting Design, LLC welcomes our newest employee - summer intern Courtney Sheets! Courtney is a senior at Southeast Missouri State University studying Interior Design. St. Louis is her hometown.
ELD: Courtney, how did you discover lighting design?
Courtney: I became interested in lighting through my first internship at a lighting showroom (suggested by one of my professors.) I had never considered that aspect of design, but I quickly realized I had a passion for it.
ELD: What are you hoping to learn while you're with us here at ENvisionLD this summer?
Courtney: This summer I am excited to be experiencing hands on what it is like to be a lighting designer. I look forward to learning if this is what I want to do after I graduate.
ELD: I sure hope you love it as much as we do, Courtney! Besides lighting, what are your other interests?
Courtney: I like golf, shopping, traveling, and the Cardinals. I also have two dogs, Cody and Coco.
ELD: How do you ENvision your future?
Courtney: I want to travel the world, establish my career, and because my family is a source of inspiration to me, I hope to someday start a family of my own.
Join us in welcoming Courtney to the Envision Lighting Design team and to lighting design as a career!
At the start of my career whenever I attended a meeting, I often found myself to be the youngest person and the only woman in the room. Nowadays I am not typically the youngest person in the room, but all too often I am still the only woman.
Why are there so few women in our profession? And what can I do to make sure the ones there are (or the ones who have been) do not get forgotten?
The architecture community is currently in a bit of an uproar over the fact that Denise Scott Brown was not included in her husband and partner Robert Venturi's 1991 Pritzker Prize Award. In fact, Despina Stratigakos recently wrote a wonderful article about "Unforgetting" Women Architects and Architecture Magazine is challenging its readers to recommend a woman architect for a Wikipedia article to be written by the magazine. I even just learned that Frank Lloyd Wright's first employee was a woman architect.
One of my more popular old blog posts includes a little story about a lighting designer named Lesley Wheel. She was the first female architectural lighting designer, and a great mentor to many people. I think so highly of Lesley's ideas and her work that I'm currently helping to author a book about her design philosophies.
What are you doing to encourage women in our profession? What else needs to change so that the lighting design profession doesn't follow architecture in overlooking this talented segment of our membership? Are we too late? The Wikipedia entry under "Lighting Design" lists 13 men and one woman, the talented Motoko Ishii of Japan. The IES, a 107-year-old organization has only had three female presidents. Maybe lighting designers have some Wikipedia editing to do, as well.
My response? I think the lights were lovely, but I will admit that I had initially hoped to see them from the south. Then I learned that the lights were only installed on the north side of the bridge. Even art gets value engineered, I suppose. Next, I stopped halfway across the bridge hoping to view the show from Treasure Island, but again I was disappointed to discover that the LED lights were aimed toward the city of San Francisco and since LED lights are directional, they weren't visible from the east at all. I had driven enough miles at this point that the additional couple of miles to cross the bridge and see the show from the intended vantage point of the Embarcadero was no big deal.
I hate the critic's suggestion that the art was aimed this direction just to provide it for the affluent residents and the tourists. I would love to know Leo Villareal's response to this criticism. What were the design constraints? What went into his decisions about where to locate and direct the LEDs?
Do you think this installation of LED lights is positive, negative, or neutral for the lighting industry? Is it a good way to get the general public talking about and discovering lighting as an important element in the built environment?
While reading my latest issue of Natural Health Magazine, this quote from the back page caught my eye:
For many of us, Monday through Friday means slogging through traffic to sit for hours under soul-sucking fluorescents in back-breaking office chairs. But you can make your workdays healthier - mentally and physically - by making over your space with these tips.
"Oh boy!" I thought, "my magazine is going to address lighting quality. Yay!" But I went on to read suggestions that ranged from getting a fish tank or a potted plant to making ergonomic adjustments to the furniture and meditation to manage stress. No mention whatsoever of how to address the lighting quality problem. Even a paragraph about getting up and walking around only addressed the aspect of stretching. How about taking that walk outside to get exposure to sunlight? Or at least walking to a window for the emotional boost of the view?
If you find your fluorescent lighting to truly be soul-sucking, might I make a suggestion or two?
How about you? What have you done to take the "soul-sucking" out of your fluorescent office lighting?
In Praise of Shadows
Vincent Van Gogh is quoted, "I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day."
I just finished reading In Praise of Shadows by Jun' ichiro Tanizaki, first published in Japan in 1933 and 1934. It is a thought-provoking look at electric light as an intrusion on daily life and traditions. It eloquently presents the perspective of a novelist - not an artist or a lighting designer or an architectural professional - on light. He makes a solid case for the enhanced beauty of materials such as lacquer and gold leaf in the shadows where even a frail glimmer of light generates a vibrant sparkle, as opposed to bright light, where luster is totally flattened. He laments, "So benumbed are we nowadays by electric lights that we have become utterly insensitive to the evils of excessive illumination." One example he cites, "people will light the lights, then switch on an electric fan to combat the heat. The very thought annoys me."
Fast forward eighty years.
We have now illuminated most of the inhabited planet, some of it beautifully, other bits garishly. For whatever reason we seldom pause to appreciate the dark but are drawn to light like moths to flame, myself included. Since reading In Praise of Shadows I will accept Tanizaki's challenge (and Van Gogh's) to find the richness and beauty in darkness. As a lighting designer I will do my part to keep the stars visible so that I, my children, and the generations to come can see them...and dream.
Van Gogh also said, "For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream."
Independent Lighting Designer
Emphasis on Independent.
Has your lighting rep shown you this fixture? What?? Why not? It is one of the most fun things I've seen since RGB LED!
Oh...your lighting rep doesn't represent this product.
One of the advantages of hiring an independent lighting designer is that we work on your behalf: to get you the best possible lighting solution at the best possible price. Whether that means you should actually eliminate light fixtures from an overlit space or if it means you should buy products from five different lighting reps - we can facilitate that!
As an independent lighting designer, ENvisionLD can often provide lighting design services for around the price of one decorative fixture on your project. Chances are, by hiring us you will save money in the long run - by avoiding products you don't need, or through energy savings, or by increased worker productivity.
Hire an independent lighting designer for your project today. Get better results and have more fun!
Lisa J. Reed, lighting designer and Principal at Envision Lighting Design, LLC