We are thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with Elsa Gil Benito, the Emerging Lighting Product Designer of the Year 2022 at the LIT Awards. As a young and up-and-coming designer, Elsa’s fresh perspective and innovative approach to lighting design are sure to inspire and excite.

Could you tell us a little about yourself?

I am Elsa Gil, an enthusiast about the world.

I studied product design, and in my postgraduate studies, I specialized in biodesign. Throughout my career, I could promote everything I knew: sustainability, humanism, the health of ecosystems, wealth, and welfare… And when I discovered this area of design in my postgraduate studies I developed all my projects around it.

But I am not just a designer. I am an artist, a cook, a friend, a traveler, a daughter, and a human being fascinated by life. I consider myself a whole ecosystem with different contexts, links, and responses to other organisms…

Being a biodesigner changed my life because it allowed me to learn from nature and be more in contact with organisms, which reminded me that we are not the only ones. Research made me realize that we are just a small ecosystem, part of a bigger one, and we need to protect and respect the whole ecosystem. But being a biodesigner wasn’t enough; I needed to make an impact in my personal life too. I’m part of a community of people who took the opportunity and found the solution in veganism and biodesign, to help our ecosystem.

I believe I’ve gained a holistic perspective through my projects, which were complete systems instead of single products. It is a good aptitude for organizing a project, the steps, and thinking about which other areas could be involved or affected. I’ve been working with mycelium for two years as a designer, getting to know it from the point of view of ready-to-use materials and working with its properties without biohacking them as a consequence of a lack of resources.

How did you discover your passion for Lighting Product Design?

I’ve always considered lighting an interactive way of working and connecting with our creations. There are many possibilities and components to create a magical environment as a result. In my case, it was through biomaterials and their incredible and unique colors. My objective was to find a substitute for the materials in these “day-to-day” products.

Why did you choose to study Lighting Products at the ESNE, Escuela Universitaria de Diseño, Innovación y Tecnología? When will you graduate?

I decided to study product design at ESNE as a way of focusing my creativity through methodology, new ideas, experimentation, etc. But always with the intention of creating something useful. Lighting was part of different projects, and I decided to include it in my Final Project Ma-ka. Lighting was an opportunity to bring nature into our interiors.

Can you please share your creative journey behind “Ma-Ka Lighting System”?

The project started with research, followed by inspiration, sketching, and more and more research. At the same time, I enrolled in various educational programs to deepen my understanding of the biomaterials world.

The formal development of Ma-ka was guided by the “Material Driven Design” (MDD) tool. Through it, the concepts are focused according to the characteristics of the materials, to adapt the products to them and not the other way around. Previous and theoretical knowledge about the material to be treated and experimentation are keys to knowing what you are going to work with.

Learning with materials helps bring out their maximum potential, by following their properties and expanding their undiscovered possibilities. Mycelium is an organic material, and it is through the forms, techniques, and communication of Ma-ka that this knowledge about nature is collected.

Ma-Ka Lighting System by Elsa Gil Benito

Ma-Ka Lighting System by Elsa Gil Benito

The Lighting System is made of a biomaterial, can you please explain how you create it and how long it takes? What are the benefits of it?

Mycelium can be described as the roots of mushrooms. It is considered one of the most powerful biomaterials with low cost, requirements, and ingredients. However, there are a lot of possibilities for contamination during the growing process. That’s why for the project I decided to buy Grow It Yourself kits: a useful resource to learn how to work with it and reduce the contamination range.

I fabricated my own thermoformed molds from my digital design. These molds are the ones that give shape to the mycelium, which adapts to its container. After an incubation period of four days, I took them off the molds and attached several pieces by hand, creating the final column. The mycelium keeps growing, so the structure can be bio-assembled by its expansion. For this big product, the whole process took me two weeks, including the drying step.

The potential of micomaterials becomes clear when we know their properties and understand that they can be compared to various traditional materials.
For example, chipboard, whose production starts with sawdust or wood chips agglutinated with special resins, so that it has the desired texture, density, and resistance.

It can be applied to architecture, interior design, products, etc. It is possible to manufacture chipboard, petroleum-derived plastics, and even fabrics for the textile industry from mycelium. Depending on how they are cultivated, they can have similar properties without the need to use resins or chemical gums. Mycelium is responsible for naturally binding the raw material. Depending on the object to be designed, we will have to consider different production models to achieve different properties.

Ma-Ka Lighting System

Ma-Ka Lighting System by Elsa Gil Benito

You are just starting your career as a Lighting Product Designer… what do you want to do next? What are your dreams?

Right now I am planning to start my journey in a PhD program, as I believe that it is through education and research that biodesign can enter our daily lives.
My dream is to have my own design studio where I could develop my projects and at the same time teach and research. My objective is to keep learning.

Last, what makes light magical to you?

For me, light becomes magical when there’s a game purpose: when you can decide to play with its shadows, and create your own magical environment.

 

Read more about the project here.

We spoke with designer Mykola Kabluka about how his team at Ukrainian company Expolight is once again finding a way forward with light. Mykola, winner of the “Lighting Product Design of the Year” title, told us more about the creative journey in designing the chandelier at Unit City’s B14 campus in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Could you tell us a little about yourself? 

Light is almost my whole life. A hobby in the form of light was born during my studies, although my specialty was not related to light. Immediately after graduating from university, I started Expolight, which this month turns 22. We are based in Dnipro, Ukraine. 

How did you discover your passion for Lighting Product Design?

It all started with my fascination with light: how it radically transforms our perception of the world, our emotional state, our perception of ourselves in space, and our relationship with it. That’s why I became interested in lighting design. We have a sustained balance between both technical and artistic points of view. Because in the design of our elements, we treat light as an excellent tool, like an artist. To make a good painting you need brushes of different widths, thicknesses, and types. In a similar way, we gradually came to the point where we designed our lamps. And through our study of the nature of light and our thirst for the study of light, we were inspired by the effects of light in the atmosphere and in different conditions, such as varying sun positions, different states of air humidity, clouds, and shadows. An exciting material for researching light is glass, which is solid. But at the same time, it is one of the few materials that are translucent and can transform light in different ways: re-reflecting, scattering, and refracting it. And that’s what we dedicated the Optical Metaphor brand to. We equate the metaphor to natural phenomena, such as natural lighting, by designing unique light sources and using customized glass from our production as a light-transforming object.

Photo Credit: Expolight

Can you please share with us, what was your creative journey when designing the chandelier? How would you describe the role and responsibilities when working on this design? What was the most challenging part of the project and how did you overcome it?

My approach to light is unusual. More often than not, a person is more inclined to either the technical part of the job, an engineering view of the world, or is more creative. And it happened that, to an equal degree, both spheres are close to me. My first education was in mathematical modeling, and my second was in lighting design. This combination expresses my approach to light. When we have an artistic image to create, we immediately see it and, from a technical angle, how it can be realized. This project is one of many planned for the huge Unit City Innovation Center complex. There we have illuminated many buildings, public spaces, and interior spaces. Hence, its philosophy is profoundly at the center of a modern view of the future of humanity, where technology is combined with the philosophy of care and sustainable interaction with nature. And this philosophy is reflected in all the elements we work on. We developed this project together with architect Victoria Yakusha and her Yakusha Design team. We wanted to make something that was both plastic and natural, but also technological. Because of this, we spent a long time selecting and designing these prismatic glass tubes and chose the illumination method to show the complexity of natural perception. So there are these complex, intersecting shapes that intertwine. They transform the light into an intricate image, which we did with our designed lenses, which have three types of beam widths at different angles so that these lenses and the multi-layered screens of these extremely long glass tubes covered with prisms create modern natural light, which at the same time is very technological.

One of the most challenging parts of the job was to design and achieve the production of such an incredibly long glass lens. We spent a long time adjusting our standard approaches to pouring a glass for such a long tube, 1600 mm long. That length is complicated to achieve, so we had to work on it, and it was also challenging, with such long rods, so closely spaced, to keep them from bumping against each other through the air from the vent.

We figured out how to lock the tubes in place, so they wouldn’t bump into each other, so we designed custom transparent and barely noticeable spacers made of optical plastic that replicated the grooved shape of the tube. They fix the chandelier so that it does not move and does not knock in its lower part. They are entirely invisible, so they do not destroy the overall clean and light appearance of the simple shape of the chandelier.

Photo Credit: Expolight

What does it mean to you, to win the Lighting Product Design of the Year 2022 prize?

This is very valuable and gratifying for our brand because it is a young brand that grew out of our passion for researching the natural phenomena of light and optical effects. But this award is precious because it is a motivating ray for Ukraine and Ukrainians. As you know, the situation in our country is now challenging because of Russia’s unjust aggression. Russia is plunging our entire country into darkness to destroy our energy system and leave us without electricity, heat, and water. Most of Ukraine now lives without stable electricity, heat, or communications. We never thought that one day we could do without what have always been such simple everyday things: charging gadgets, warm homes, and all that kind of stuff. 

Therefore, we must be stable and work further, and this victory is very motivating for our company and the whole country because we live and move on. And it is symbolic to receive such bright news at the darkest moment. An interesting fact: We learned about this news literally at the darkest time: on November 15, immediately after the entire country was plunged into darkness during the first blackout due to the severe destruction of the Ukrainian energy system. My whole team and I were in the office and continued to work. Our office has all the conditions for this thanks to generators, Starlink, and an ample water supply (and soon, we will also have our well). This is how we continue to be in contact with the whole world and work in different corners of the world.

No matter how much Russia tries to plunge Ukraine into darkness, we want to show with our activities and victories that the light is still stronger and wins.

What are you working on at the moment, and do you have any upcoming projects or collaborations that you’re able to tell us about?

Now we have even more work to do around the world on different continents, and in the USA, Europe, and Great Britain. In the UAE, Armenia, Georgia, and Bali… There are many different countries; the geography is very wide. The situation in the country gave us an impetus to focus more on the international field. One of the most interesting projects now, where we also use our optical filter lenses, is one of the iconic properties in Dubai, with architecture by Zaha Hadid Architects. The task was to create unique lighting effects in the common space in the atrium of this impressive building. It is a great honor to work in facilities where such famous architects work. We created a custom floor lamp with our philosophy and are now in the final testing stage. It can be adjusted to create special caustic water effects; it has the appearance of the sun’s rays passing through the water and creating dynamic reflections. We love this effect. 

What would be your best advice to Emerging Lighting Product Designers?

Be fascinated by the light. Light can be studied endlessly and is very interesting, as long as you look at it not as a practical entity that illuminates a dark space but rather as the inspirational-sacred function of light, which creates a mood, formulates our perception of the world, and inspires us. It is exciting to progress from the practical part to a higher level and study light as a metaphor for the natural phenomena in the modern world, combining it with modern technologies, while also studying basic light phenomena and reproducing them in your work. 

Last, what can we wish you for 2023? 

Please wish that democracy defeats totalitarianism and that Ukraine endures and wins in the fight against the totalitarian aggression of the Russian Federation. We are sure of this because light always wins over darkness.

 

Read more about the winning project here. 

We talked to Owen Fernando Patia, a student at the California College of The Arts and winner of the title of Emerging Lighting Designer of the Year 2022 about his inspiration behind the award-winning project AQUA.

Could you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Owen Fernando Patia, I am from Jakarta, Indonesia, and currently a student studying Interior and lighting design at CCA. Since childhood, the world around me has revolved around colors and preposterous imagination as I grew up loving fantasy genre movies. It has always been a dream of mine to once live in this fantasy; to incorporate the impossible into the reality of life.

 

How did you discover your passion for Lighting Design? Why did you choose to study Lighting Design at the California College of the arts?

Interior design was the answer to turning imaginations into reality. My college, California College of the Arts allowed me to explore every point of my imagination and taught me how to bring these fantasies into real-life application. It is only with the aid of lighting design can you optimize the mood and ambiance of a space.

Can you please share your creative journey behind “AQUA”? Where is your inspiration from?

The element, ‘water’ has always placed a place in my heart and I have been observing its elegant flow and beauty in movies and real life. Disney’s little mermaid was a significant inspiration for my project, AQUA, where I explored the fantastical reality of living underwater; how it would look and feel. AQUA is a unique theater design project where humans get to experience the mood and ambiance underwater.

What does it mean to you, to become the Emerging Lighting Designer of the Year 2022?

This recognition shows that my imaginations were not completely absurd. There are people in this world who appreciate my wild imagination, especially in such a technical industry as lighting design. It is a symbol of hope that I will carry throughout my journey as a designer.

What are you working on now? Can you share some glimpse of your next Lighting Design project?

Currently, I am working on a restaurant design project. It is called ‘Sanctuaire de Glace’, where I am mainly exploring lighting as a sequence.

You are just starting your career as a Lighting Designer… what do you want to do next?

Up until now, the majority of my projects have only come out in the form of digitalized conceptual renderings. I would love to start fantastical projects that support real-life applications, so in search of internships, I hope to gain these experiences.

Last, what shall we wish you for 2023?

I hope my imagination can keep growing along with the industry, so we will be able to turn a fantasy into reality.

 

View more about the project here. 

In 1993, Hervé Descottes founded lighting design firm L’Observatoire International in New York after 8 years of design practice in Paris, France. Mr. Descottes has been recognized numerous times by the lighting design and architectural communities and took the time out of his busy schedule to discuss his lighting scheme for the Hermès’ collections at Milan Design Week 2022, winner of the 2022 “Lighting Design of the Year” title.

First of all, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Hervé Descottes. I was born in Dijon, came to America in ’93 and founded L’Observatoire International. I lived in France until my 20s and have always been inspired by my surroundings, my city, the lighting, and the fog in winter. Little by little we have grown to become the successful company and team we are today.

What was Hermès’ original design brief for their collection presentation at the Milan Design Week?

The idea of softness. The lamps were inspired by the shoji shades in Japanese houses, the glow and the warmth. That’s how we started.

Photo Credits: Maxime Verret courtesy of Hermès. 

What was the most challenging part of the project?

Finding the right balance between making the product glow and avoiding unwanted shadows. I really wanted to feel like I was going to be inside of a lamp, feeling the paper’s softness, gentle, and round light. That was the idea.

What does it mean to you to win the “Lighting Designer of the Year 2022” award?

First of all, thank you for selecting me, and thank you for the award. Of course, I’m so delighted. It is always a challenge to be recognized and accepted by your peers. For me, it is a very important award, and I am definitely honored.

Photo Credits: Maxime Verret courtesy of Hermès. 

In general, where does your design inspiration come from?

Every day. Daily life, from the morning sun, the places I go in the evening, the books I read, and the movies I watch. It’s compiling a lot of story images. For me, good lighting and a good project must always be a great story.

Photo Credits: Maxime Verret courtesy of Hermès. 

Do you have any upcoming projects or collaborations you can tell us about?

I am very busy. I think we have a lot going on these days. From the expansion of the Fondation Cartier in Paris – a great place for temporary exhibitions – to some beautiful hotel restaurants.

We have incredible designs in the works for the Guggenheim in Abu Dhabi. That project is now taking shape, it’s under construction, and when you look at the pictures and understand its scale, it is very impressive. We are also in the process of working on a renovation here in New York, and a beautiful school academy with Jean Nouvel in Singapore. Many great projects, and I feel very fortunate.

What would be your advice to any emerging lighting designers?

Trust your gut and don’t give up! It’s an amazing field. You require a very different type of skill from being extremely technical and understanding the technology. You have to understand your heart, your feelings and be able to find the right balance between technology and emotions.

The LIT Lighting Design Awards were established to recognize the efforts of talented international product designers and lighting designers. The program recognizes creativity and innovation in the fields of lighting products and applications.

The jury, consisting of 43 talented and experienced professionals, architects, interior designers, academics and lighting industry media representatives, selected the winners of the 6th edition of the LIT Awards. The program received over 650 submissions from 51 countries. All designs were judged on their own merits.

The range of works is amazing: L’Observatoire International was awarded the title of Lighting Design of the Year for the Hermès collections at Milan Design Week 2022 and Expolight received the Lighting Product Design of the Year award for the Chandelier in the B14 UNIT. City business space.

As lighting is one of the most important things when it comes to creating an experience, the LIT Awards place great emphasis on recognizing the best lighting artists in the Entertainment Lighting Design category.

Hong Kong Harbour Fiesta – Artists in Motion / Lead Designers Richard Lindsay (Artists in Motion) + Adam Bassett (Woodroffe Bassett Design)

Award winners include: Quiet Ensemble with Vertical Horizon, an Interactive Lighting Project, designer Yann Kersalé won in the Music Event Lighting category with Pulse of Light, GCLX Production Lighting was recognized with Breaking the Castle, and EO won in the Theater Performance Design category with ROADTRIP. Winners in the Entertainment Lighting Product Design category included Ayrton with its Cobra phosphor laser source luminaire.

Die Ärzte Stadium Festival design 2022 by Bertil Mark Lighting Design / Photo Credits: Ralph Larmann – Paul Gärtner

Winners will receive extensive publicity over the next year to showcase their achievements to a global audience. Their designs will be featured in the annual Book of Design, which will be distributed worldwide. They will also receive the LIT Lighting Design Awards certificate and badge of achievement, as well as a year-round profile in the LIT Awards Online Directory. For the full list of winners of the 2022 LIT Lighting Design Awards, visit litawards.com/winners.

Pavilion of Moonlight Horizon by Light is More / Lead Designer: Pauline David / Client: Noor Riyadh

Act sustainably. For the sake of the future of humankind, we’re all obliged to embrace sustainability. But what does that mean in practice?

Asking for a ‘sustainable project’ looks good on a client brief, but can we ever achieve a sustainable solution? The hard truth is that ‘sustainability’ isn’t binary. It’s not something that either is, or isn’t, like a light switch. To carry on with that control analogy, sustainability is more like a dimmer that can be set anywhere between 0 and 100%. Because sustainability is a process and processes tend not to be absolutes.

But even if we’re not talking in absolutes, it still helps to be able to frame what sustainability means to us as designers and to our clients. Let’s look at three major headline issues that all address sustainability, but which all take different routes to achieve a sustainable goal.

Climate action. We used to call this energy efficiency, back in the days when we thought the only thing that mattered was to try to reduce the amount of fuel that we were burning. Now we know that climate action is probably the single most important factor for everything that we do, both in our business and in our personal lives. It’s still about reducing the fuel that we’re burning – but our lives now depend on it.

So what actions are we taking to reduce carbon emissions; to protect biodiversity; to protect food production in the world. These are not things that happen by accident; they only happen by design.

Circular economy. We’re familiar with the slogan ‘leave it in the ground’ as related to fossil fuel extraction. But this relates to far more than oil and gas. By making lighting fixtures that can be used again and again, by replacing exhausted components such as LED engines and drivers while retaining the mass of the fixture body, we can reduce the need for virgin materials to be mined and quarried. The planet does not hold an infinite supply of raw materials. We have to conserve what we’re using.

Environment, Social, Governance (ESG) reporting, aka Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Some organisations draw a distinction between ESG and CSR, but it’s a pointless exercise because, whatever you call it, it has the same end view. These reporting frameworks tell us how well businesses are doing in meeting the Ten Principles established by the United Nations in its Global Compact.

In a perfect world, we’d all score 100% on everything. We don’t live in a perfect world; we live in a world where we strive to do better. Promoting the sustainable criteria of architectural projects is a way of saying ‘we’ve come this far. We aim to go further. Please join us on the journey.


Written by John Bullockthe editor of The Light Review – thelightreviewonline.com.

The Studio School of Design (SSD) is an interdependent community of practice where experiential learning is embedded into a curriculum of design storytelling. It celebrates the full range of human cultural expression and identity and especially supports those who are and have previously been marginalized or excluded from the design professions. They see lighting design as a creative art form and are deeply invested in the potential of telling diverse and inclusive human stories through the medium of light.

The Studio School of Design’s vision is to increase collective knowledge and diversify access to the lighting design field across the places where we work. The school is a 501c3 Not-For-Profit community organization, seeking to provide equitable and inclusive low-cost classes both online and in-person to a wide-ranging pool of talented and motivated students.

This year, the 2022 « Spotlight » prize has been awarded to The Studio School of Design for its engagements towards education accessibility, diversity, and inclusivity. SSD is providing affordable (or free) learning environments and educational programs, preparing emerging lighting designers for the broad range of today’s lighting careers.

Photo by Rosalie O'Connor

Photo by Rosalie O’Connor

The Studio School of Design began operations in the spring of 2021 with courses in Lighting for the Camera, Business Skills for Freelancers, Assisting with Large Scale Projects, and, importantly, a survey course of all the professions where designers work outside of the traditional theatre markets (65 students from 8 countries). They continued in the fall with courses in Video Content Creation and Pre-Visualization.

Additionally, they have offered free programs such as Pioneers of Light: The History of Women in Lighting Design (attended by over 80 online participants), Color and Light in a Mixed Source World, two Lighting Design Educator workshops for High School and University level instructors, and Networking events, both on Zoom and in person, to facilitate contact between designers, associates, directors, and choreographers. This spring (2023), the Studio School of Design will again offer Bob Barnhart’s highly successful Lighting for the Camera course, as well as courses in Vectorworks 3D and a Dance Lighting Intensive.

Photo by Rosalie O’Connor

One of their most exciting initiatives has been the launch of our High School Summer Workshop, a pilot program attended by 13 high school students, primarily from underserved school districts, for 4 days in the summer of 2022 (video of  Students sharing their experiences). With the support of the Chelsea Factory and other donors, students participated for free in hands-on training in designing and telling stories with light. They are currently in the advanced planning stages for an expanded multi-week program targeting 40 high school students for the summer of 2023.

The Studio School of Design continues to offer online courses through Zoom, making course materials available to a large group of learners from around the world. They will continue to do so in the future and are currently looking for a space in Manhattan where they can offer face-to-face courses on a regular basis. Their future plans include developing a curriculum program that will provide in-depth study in a variety of fields and career paths for lighting designers.

In total, over 200 students/participants have participated in online and face-to-face programs since April 2021; 25% of online participants have received scholarships and all high school participants have attended for free.

The Studio School of Design is led by an outstanding group of individuals who bring decades of experience in education, design, non-profit management, media, equity, diversity, inclusion, law, and the lighting industry. Studio School of Design faculty come from the professional community and are focused on recruiting a wide range of highly qualified professionals.

We spoke with Studio School of Design President Mark Stanley and Vice President Clifton Taylor about their plans for the future of this inclusive and multicultural learning environment.

MARK STANLEY – Director, President (Photo by Rosalie O’Connor) and CLIFTON TAYLOR – Director, Vice President, Secretary

As professional designers and educators, Clifton and I are intimately connected to the intersection of both worlds. Studio School reflects our commitment to providing opportunities for affordable, accessible training in lighting design and related fields. By expanding the pathways to a successful and more diverse, inclusive, education and also providing a gateway to the professional world, we enrich our community and the stories we tell through light and design“, shared Mark Stanley.

Talking about the ways the public and the industry can support their work, Mark added that the “Studio School of Design is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization. We rely on contributions to achieve our mission and provide the affordable, and often free, education that is our mission. As a young organization, we need the larger lighting and design communities’ support in order to expand and grow“.

Photo by Rosalie O’Connor

Looking at this coming year’s program, Mark added that “When it comes to their upcoming projects, this spring they are offering 3 courses online:  Lighting Live Events for the Camera led by Bob Barnhart, Advanced Vectorworks 3D Drafting, led by Nick Solyom, and a Dance Lighting Intensive, led by Mark Stanley. In addition, Studio School of Design offers networking opportunities and educator training at both the high school and university levels.  In the summer of 2023, they will expand their High School Summer Intensive in Lighting Design to a two-week program with the goal of reaching 40 high school students.  In addition, they will offer their popular Associates and Assistant Lighting Designer course as well as Business Practices for Freelancers.”

About Mark Stanley: Resident Lighting Designer for New York City Ballet, Mark Stanley has designed over 220 premieres for their repertoire including Paul McCartney’s Ocean’s Kingdom. He has worked with choreographers around the world including Peter Martins, Alexei Ratmansky, Susan Stroman, Christopher Wheeldon, Justin Peck, William Forsythe, Kevin O’Day, Susan Marshall and many others. His designs are in the repertoire of nearly every major ballet company in North America and Europe and his designs for George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker and other ballets and operas have been seen on Live from Lincoln Center and Great Performances. Mr. Stanley previously served as Resident Designer for the New York City Opera. His theatre work includes the Kennedy Center, Long Wharf Theater, Goodspeed Opera House, Ordway Music Theater, Paper Mill Playhouse, Maurice Sendak’s Night Kitchen and off-Broadway. Mr. Stanley heads the Lighting Design Program at Boston University and is on the Board of Directors of the Hemsley Lighting Programs.

About Clifton Taylor:  For over 34 years, Clifton Taylor has created lighting, projection and scenic designs for theater, dance and opera companies around the world. He has also designed a number of unique concert music events for major orchestras, solo musicians and large-scale venues. His work has been commissioned on Broadway, Off-Broadway, regionally, and in seventeen countries outside the US. Clifton teaches design as an associate professor at UNCSA with additional extensive experience lecturing at NYU, the New York Choreographic Institute, and LDI. He has also had academic appointments at the Juilliard School, The University of Iowa, and the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh Cambodia. He has a long-standing interest in education and is also a current MA candidate in the Adult Education Program at ECU. Clifton is the author of the book on color for lighting designers: “Color and Light, Navigating Color Mixing in the Midst of an LED revolution” which was published by Ones and Zeros Media.

You can learn more about the Studio School of Design at studioschoolofdesign.org.

The LIT Lighting Design Awards, created to recognize the efforts of talented international lighting product designers and lighting implementers, announced an exclusive partnership with Silhouette Awards (SA), a groundbreaking program developed by Archifos and Parrot PR & Marketing.

The Silhouette Awards shine a spotlight on emerging talent in the lighting industry and support these individuals as they continue their careers. The awards focus on supporting young professionals, giving them a platform to showcase their emerging talents in the industry, followed by a six-month mentorship with an experienced lighting professional.

The 2022 LIT Lighting Design Awards “Emerging Lighting Product Designer of the Year” and “Emerging Lighting Designer of the Year” will receive a six-month mentorship from one of the prestigious Silhouette Awards Mentors to hone their skills, advance their career ambitions and add real value to industry creativity.

“This new partnership highlights the level of engagement of the LIT Lighting Design Awards and the Silhouette Awards towards the new generation of Lighting Designers. The LIT Awards will support and enroll Silhouette Awards mentees of the 2022 – 2023 editions, elevating their works and promoting their creativity”, said Astrid Hebert, Program Director of the LIT Awards.

Mentors play an essential role in the Silhouette Awards initiative. A highly experienced and respected panel of judges, “The Mentors”, are comprised of senior influential lighting designers who are on the lookout to nurture young talent and help other like-minded individuals benefit from their own personal experiences.

The benefits of being able to pass on knowledge, support new designers in the industry and be a person to listen and advise is extremely rewarding to me. It is also of mutual benefit as fresh eyes and fresh thinking often give me a different point of view or a new approach to design that I can then carry forward either myself or as part of a wider project team. Without a Director who was focused on sharing knowledge when I first started in the industry, I wouldn’t have taken the career development to where I am today”, said Gary Thornton, Mentors and an Associate Lighting Designer at Nulty.

To take advantage of this unique opportunity, students and emerging designers should finalize their submissions to the LIT Lighting Design Awards before the final deadline on October 22nd, 2022.

The LIT Lighting Design Awards is honored to announce the entertainment lighting industry leading designers who will join the Jury board members. Highly respected by their peers in the industry, the judges are tasked with recognizing creativity and innovation in the fields of “stage and concert lighting”, Live Art and Theater lighting.

For the 6th consecutive year, the program is honoring the efforts of the talented international lighting product designers and lighting implementers. With a fast-growing interest, and increase of projects submitted from the “Entertainment lighting” industry, LIT has invited new jury members to join the LIT Lighting Design Awards. Their technical knowledge, extensive experience, eye for detail and creative minds will be key to recognizing the professional designers pushing boundaries and identifying emerging talents, who are bringing new ideas to the entertainment lighting industry.

The LIT Awards is honored to welcome our four new judges, each and everyone is an international respected Lighting and Production designer; some of the most accomplished leaders in the Entertainment Lighting industry: LeRoy Bennett, Roland Greil, Peter Morse, Charles B “Cosmo” Wilson.

With decades of experience creating some of the biggest concert productions, LeRoy Bennett is a lighting and stage director who began his career designing stage productions for Prince. The success of Prince’s “Dirty Mind” tour led to a 14-year collaborative relationship and established LeRoy as the vanguard of his field. Living in Los Angeles, LeRoy Bennett is recognized worldwide as one of the most iconic innovators in cutting-edge production, lighting, and stage design. His resume boasts superstars from every music genre including Ariana Grande, The Who, The Game Awards, Queen, Madonna, David Bowie, Maroon 5, Lenny Kravitz, and Faith Hill/Tim McGraw.

Roland Greil has worked with a number of the most significant artists in the entertainment industry, including; Adele, Phil Collins and the Rolling Stones, for whom he has collaborated with Woodroffe Bassett Design (WBD). Most recently Roland has been responsible for the co-lighting design of the current Rammstein stadium tour and Genesis’s “Last Domino” tour, also with WBD. Roland’s work is characterized by a professional, radically creative and innovative way of thinking. His experiences will be a tremendous asset to the jury panel.

Peter Morse’s career spans more than 45 years in the entertainment industry, Peter is an Emmy Award-winning lighting designer that has worked with many of the world’s top artists, including; Michael Jackson, Madonna, Barbara Streisand, Usher, Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Lopez, Janet Jackson, Andrea Bocelli, The Eagles, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Dolly Parton, Lionel Richie, Bette Midler, and many others. Peter has lent his illuminating talents to numerous productions and has always appreciated the expression of design as a sampling of art and culture.

Cosmo Wilson is a concert lighting designer and director. His illustrious career has found him having worked with more than 40 bands from; AC/DC, Aerosmith, Iron Maiden, The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, Blondie, Guns N’ Roses, Black Sabbath to Judas Priest and the Scorpions. Cosmo received a Parnelli Award for “Lighting Director of the Year 2015”, a Tour Link Top Dog Award for “Lighting Director of the Year” for AC/DC in 2016 and Aerosmith in 2017, and the Live Production Summit Pinnacle Awards for both “Lighting Director of the Year” and “Lighting Designer of the Year” in 2020.

“In the entertainment industry, lighting is a powerful storyteller; it helps people to connect to their emotions and bring life to a performance.” said Astrid Hébert, Program Director of the LIT Lighting Design Awards. “We are very honored to welcome Peter Morse, Charles B. “Cosmo” Wilson, LeRoy Bennett and Roland Greil to the panel, having all inspirational careers and unique expertise.”

With over 40 jury members, the LIT Lighting Design Awards Judges are all leading professionals and specialists in their fields. The evaluation process is based on various judging criteria that are constantly adapted to new technical, social, economic and environmental requirements.

Sophya Acosta, a Light Art Director originally from Argentina and founder of the “Sophya Acosta Lighting Design Studio” is also joining the jury panel bringing her knowledge in Light Art Installations. Already judge for a couple of years, Katia Kolovea – founder of “Archifos” and Art Lighting Director as well as Bradley King – Lighting Designer in Broadway will also be reviewing the submissions in entertainment lighting categories.

The award welcomes submissions from professional, emerging designers and students and it will close on October 22nd, 2022 – to enter the LIT Lighting Design Awards please register here.

LIT Design Awards jury member Xiaodong Wang has over two decades of experience in lighting design. Her passion and expertise in creating atmosphere and experience of space through light led to the extensive outcomes of the projects. Her work is wide-ranging in type and scale encompassing lighting for architecture and urban design. She shares with us more about her passion for lighting design.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself and how did your passion for lighting emerge?

My first master’s degree is in Comparative Literature as I didn’t major in lighting design at the outset. My liberal arts background is a great asset to perceive beauty, art and design from a more sensitive and spiritual perspective, and to gain deeper insights into lighting design beyond light, shadows and technology.

For me, working with light and shadow seemed to be predetermined. I wrote about light worship and fire worship in my thesis for the M.A.. After graduation, I worked in a world-famous German glass enterprise and was lucky to participate in an art project collaboratively launched with Swarovski in Milan International Fair. The project invited artists and architects, including Kengo Kuma, Jasper Morrison, etc., to make art installations from crystal. Later on, I entered in the lighting industry in 2001 by chance and have been working on ever since. During this period, I also gained a Master degree in Lighting Design. As time goes on, I have been increasingly obsessed with light and shadows, and gradually gained my own understanding of lighting design.

Project name: Xu Wei Art Museum Location: Shaoxing, China

Project name: Xu Wei Art Museum, Location: Shaoxing, China

What are your guiding design principles and can you tell us more about your role and responsibilities at Lighting Design & Research Institute of UAD?

“Darken elegantly, and lighten poetically”. This is my basic guiding design principle.

I’m currently the principal of the Lighting Design & Research Institute (LDI) under the Architectural Design & Research Institute of Zhejiang University (UAD). Belonging to UAD, LDI is a design & research institute as well as an industry-academia-research platform wholly owned by Zhejiang University.

With a young, diligent and professional team, LDI mainly works on lighting design practices and research. Our design practices cover urban lighting planning, landscape and architectural lighting design and more, and our research is mainly on lighting education, issues and application, and on the compilation of industry specifications and standards.

Are there any specific processes or elements you make sure to include when working on large-scale Lighting project?

Apart from preliminary site investigation, schematic design, design development and drawing design, we also pay great attention to final realization, which normally includes on-site testing, solution debating and final commissioning.

There are plenty of factors that influence the lighting effects of a project. In addition to design scheme optimization, parameters calculations and luminere layouts, it is also vital to study various materials, find proper expressions and accurately control lighting. We attach great importance to each project’s lighting quality, so we put an emphasis on debating, testing and commissioning to ensure a desirable effect.

Project name: Shooting, Archery & Modern Pentathlon Venue for Asian Games 2022 Location: Hangzhou, China

Project name: Shooting, Archery & Modern Pentathlon Venue for Asian Games 2022, Location: Hangzhou, China

What do you think are the biggest challenges and opportunities in the Lighting Industry in China now?

The biggest challenge faced by China’s lighting industry is rapid urbanization and its impact on human settlements, environment, resources, etc. But challenges are also opportunities. Currently, the lighting sector in China is developing in the direction of being more intelligent and energy-saving, and more concerned about the relationship between human and environment, human and cities, human and ecology.

What are you focused on right now? Is there a new project or collaboration you can share with us?

In the past few years, we have purposely undertaken lots of lighting design projects for urban renewal. As urban regeneration is a long-term, growing sociological topic, it constantly brings new challenges from different aspects including planning, design, operation, management and so on. I think this kind of project is quite meaningful and also valuable.

Besides, our team has also taken on several projects for the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou 2022, including improving some stadiums and the local urban environment. Those projects are now being carried out and are expected to be completed from the end of this year to next year.

Project name: Lighting for Core Section of Zhoushan New Area Location: Zhoushan, China

Project name: Lighting for Core Section of Zhoushan New Area, Location: Zhoushan, China

Last, what is the main message you would like to send to young, emerging Lighting designers?

Firstly, never stop learning. Try to visit more, see more and learn more, and be humble as well. A wide range of knowledge is essential to excellence.

Secondly, pay attention to the execution. Every project is unique, which requires us to treat construction drawings and on-site services as prudently as devising design schemes. In addition, attach importance to details and quality. Let the project speak for yourself.
Thirdly, focus on introspection. Review is for improvement, and introspection is for better practice. Accumulate richly and break forth effectively.

Project name: Floodlighting Design for Damiao Temple, Fengqiao, Location: Zhuji City, China

Read more interviews with lighting design professionals here.