Tina Aghassian - Principal, Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design, USA
What attracted you to lighting design to make your career in it?
I have always been attracted to architecture,
art and design. My education is in interior architectural design and I discovered lighting when I was working for a lighting design firm during my studies. I liked the appeal of working on a variety of wonderful projects with amazing architects and landscape architects. Lighting design is a relatively unknown profession to those outside the industry. It was not something I would have known about had I not worked for a lighting design firm.
How do you go about working on a lighting design project? How do you decide your core idea or concept?
I start with the essence of the architecture - understanding the building, the designer, keeping in mind the end users and envisioning the end result. My inspiration stems from the excitement of a new challenge and opportunity to help create and shape the architecture with light. The design ideas take shape as one becomes familiar with the building, the context of the project and as we brainstorm with the team. After meeting with the Architect and understanding the architecture or landscape my team and I like to create plan diagrams that define the space types, diagrams that show the hierarchy of light and the choreography of light. Next step is to look at inspirational images, understand the context of the project and the client by researching about them and finding images of surrounding areas. What is the culture of light in the area? Should the lighting be simple, architectural and functional or should it be dynamic and transform from day to night or
transform for events and celebrations? A great team with collaborative designers makes for a cohesive project with a clear vision.
"I liked the appeal of working on a variety of wonderful projects with amazing architects and landscape architects. Lighting design is a relatively unknown profession to those outside the industry. It was not something I would have known about had I not worked for a lighting design firm."
"The lighting design has to be supportive of the architect’s vision but at the same time should be unique and
Tejas Doshi, CLD, IALD, MIES, IDA
How big a role does a sustainable lighting design solution play to make a building green?
It plays a very big role because sustainable lighting design solution is not only about achieving the watts per sq mt. The idea is to optimize performance without losing quality. If a lighting designer is involved from the conceptual stage it would be much easier as he/she can help the Architect integrate lighting in such a way that it not
only enhances the architecture, but also finds the perfect balance between sustainability and visual appeal. People
often use very less light to achieve a green certificate and they don’t care about practically and functionality.
Designs are made in a way to impress and functionality is ignored. In India , I feel lighting codes should be defined
by a body of lighting designers and not by electrical consultants or by big lighting brands. It is a specialized field and hence qualified people must handle it like it is done in Europe & the USA.
At what stage of an architectural project should lighting designers roped in? What is the general international practice?
As early as possible. General international practice is to involve a lighting designer from the conceptual stage itself.
How easy or difficult is it for you to present your own lighting design concept and make it stand out over the Principal Architect’s design concept?
That’s a tricky question ! I think that through time most architects and interior designers have started accepting that they cannot do it all and the fact that they require specialized people. At the end of the day, our job is to enhance their work and match their vision.
When Architects make 3D presentations, they show lighting in night view but in reality most of them don’t know
"In India , I feel lighting codes should be defined by a body of lighting designers and not by electrical consultants or by big lighting brands. It is a specialized field and hence qualified people must handle it like it is done in Europe & the USA."
how to achieve it . In maximum cases a 3D animator puts global or linear lights simply by taking the concept from the internet. We need to understand that a professional designer would make sure the light that he/she is recommending is maintenance friendly. One has to be realistic and practical when designing lighting ,especially in India. This is the sole reason that most of our buildings designed by international lighting designers are not maintained.
Developers use international designers to sell their projects but it doesn’t run in Indian market. International designer come with a brand name and local designer are expected to provide international services. They are ready to pay more to an international designer but not to a local lighting designer. This is the reason International Association Lighting Designers (IALD) Indian Chapter was formed so that we have quality designers who follow set standards and who are at
par with International ones.
Also in our country if one designer has messed up a high end project then the entire design community takes the beating for it. In IALD India we have qualified designers who have years of experience.