Katia Kolovea, Founder & Art Director of Archifos, opens about her passion for lighting design, her upcoming projects and shares advice to young designers
September 20, 2021
Katia Kolovea is a lighting enthusiast, communication strategist, and advocate of the lighting design profession. She was born and raised in Athens, Greece and the last few years have been based in London, UK
Lighting designer, communication strategist, and advocate of the lighting design profession, Katia is passionate about light, people, and the creation of engaging and immersing experiences led her to start her business Archifos. Archifos started as a blog, evolved into a personal brand, and in the last year, it has been focusing on the intersection of lighting design, experiential marketing, and engaging communications. When she is not designing interactive and immersive lighting experiences, Katia collaborates with businesses in the lighting industry to support them communicate their brand and services in a meaningful, innovative, and personalized way, online and offline. Her work as a designer has been awarded with a darc award and was honored with the 40under40 lighting award in 2019. Katia has been involved in various community-based and educational projects of the lighting industry. She loves storytelling, public speaking, and bringing the right people together. Katia is the founder of the Lighting Police, an educational platform with the mission to raise awareness about the importance of the right light to the general public. She is a team member of the global Women in Lighting Community managing all social media communications, a Judge of the LIT design awards, and recently elected as a council member of the Society of Light and Lighting.
First of all, tell us a bit about yourself. How did your fascination with lighting and technology start?
As long as I remember myself I was always mesmerized by the golden colors of sunsets. I think sunsets are something that I will never ever take for granted or get bored of experiencing. So, I had always a particular interest in daylight and the power of the sun.
However, with artificial light, I didn’t have a specific interest or observation as a child. I shall confess that I was taking it for granted, as the majority of people. I could appreciate warm and low-intensity spaces but never thought that light can influence our emotions and that would be a profession and a career I would follow in the future.
In 2014 while I was entering the final year of my Bachelor’s degree in Interior Architecture and Product Design in Athens, I was very fortunate to attend a full-day lighting conference called Urban Lightscapes. This was the first moment when I realized that lighting design is a very diverse profession where many professionals from different fields come together to create unique experiences by using light as a medium. As an Interior Architect student, I had been briefly introduced to the properties of light as an intangible component of the space and this conference triggered my interest to learn more about the profession and explore a potential career path. The next step was an internship in BMLD lighting practice in Barcelona in which I got my first practical knowledge and realize that this is exactly the profession I want to be in. I completed my internship, graduated, and started my Master’s in Architectural lighting at KTH University in Stockholm.
Alkoot-fort, Tansweer Festival in Doha, project with Hadeer Omar and Sonic Jeel
What does it mean to you to be involved with the “Women in Lighting” initiative? What are your responsibilities?
Women in lighting, created by Light Collective, supported by Forma lighting and Archifos, and, with the great engagement and contribution from the worldwide ambassadors, the media partners, supporters, and every single person who is spreading the word and participating, have achieved to create a global movement which invites people who work with light to join.
During the last 3 years, the WIL project has turned into a digital platform full of creative, inspiring, and diverse content. Content that includes, interviews, blogs, articles, social media challenges, networking local and global events, and actions that inspire all of us, as well as the future generations of our profession.
Women in Lighting is a project in my heart and has massively impacted my professional growth and journey. I am deeply grateful to Light Collective, Sharon Stammers, and Martin Lupton for their invitation, trust, guidance, and the opportunity to join this great initiative from the beginning. My mission has been to communicate our message globally on the WIL social media channels, spread the word and encourage everyone to participate, share their knowledge and find their confidence to speak up, talk about their challenges and achievements, celebrate their colleagues and friends, and raise awareness for the lighting design profession. More specifically, my responsibilities are focused on the management and curation of the visual content that we share online, creating engaging initiatives, and guiding and supporting the local ambassadors and women in lighting communities to grow and spread the word about the project.
WHERE THE RAINBOW ENDS for INSTAGRAM project with Light Electric London, photo: Jim Fenwich
Can you tell us a bit more about your brand & Online platform Archifos?
Let’s start with the name. Archifos is a blend of two Greek words: “Archi” and “Fos” translated as “start” and “light”. For me, everything starts from light. The light allows you to see and experience the surrounding space. The light that makes you feel and observe.
Archifos concept was born in Barcelona in 2015 while I was doing an internship in Architectural Lighting Design. Inspired by the design culture, the great museums, design talks, and various exhibitions in Barcelona, I felt the need to share this inspiration and knowledge with my friends and classmates in Greece. I decided to start a blog and turn my Instagram profile into a focused platform dedicated to building awareness about the medium of light in our lives. Within the last few years, archifos transitioned from a blog into my personal brand, and today, it is my multidisciplinary business working globally in the intersection between Lighting Design, Storytelling, and Communication services. With very few words, when I am designing, I am collaborating on projects where light and communication are linked, for example, immersive installations, fashion shows, and presentations, media facades concepts, visual content, and many more. In the Communication sector of archifos, I help businesses in the Lighting industry to communicate their messages through light to their clients and build trustful relationships focusing on storytelling, social media, global initiatives, and the power of light.
POP UP STORE PRADA project with Light Electric London, photo: Maria Lax
What is the main message you would like to send to young, emerging artists and designers? What helped you throughout your career?
Never ever give up on your dreams and big ideas, because where there is will and passion, there is always a way. Life is not about the end destination. It is all about the journey. Fell in love with the process. Celebrate the discovery, the experimentation, the fascinating but also the challenging moments, and most importantly honor the people you will meet. Lastly, dare to ask for guidance and mentorship from people you admire and inspire you. You will be surprised by how much you will grow from this process and how good it feels when you get to challenge yourself outside of this “comfort zone”.
PRIVATE PARTY, UNITED KINGDOM project with Light Electric London, photo: Maria Lax
What makes lighting magical for you?
Lighting is magical because of the way that it makes me feel every single day. It is everywhere and makes me focused, makes me dream, observe, and create. From the very first moment I open my eyes in the morning, I will encounter thousands of little moments that I will smile just because I noticed a reflection, a small rainbow, a pattern, a shadow. There is always something to explore. From a more technical and designed point of view, I found light and lighting magical as it has the power to completely transform human emotions and atmospheres of a space in a second. How amazing is that! I love calling light a Non-Verbal Language!
What are you focused on right now? Is there a new project or collaboration you can share with us?
I am working on some very exciting projects right now focusing on lighting education, the power of mentorship, and engaging the community. The one I will mention here is a very special project that started as a funny idea in London in 2019 and has been growing to a global fun community. It is called “The Lighting Police”. The mission of The Lighting Police project is to raise awareness to the general public about the importance of the right light in our lives. The main purpose is that every single person should be able to understand, spot, and experience the VALUE of the right LIGHT in the spaces we live in. This initiative is all about sparking constructive discussions, sharing educational content, and together, supporting the Lighting Industry, to grow and share its values with the world. The project has been growing and we now have a management team, a global advisory board who are contributing to the educational content as well as active contributors around the world who are spotting cases and sharing them online together with observation statements, potential solutions, funny emojis or call to action for others to provide their thoughts. If you are on Instagram or Linkedin, we encourage you to join the discussions @thelightingpolice.
We would appreciate it if you can select 5- 6 designs from the 2020 winners, that are either the most “sustainable” or “your favorites amongst all winners” or “smarts & innovative”, and let us know why.
One of my favorites because of its elegance and simplicity. I particularly like the feeling of the transparency of the glass with the cable cord and the multiple options to choose between transparent, smoke, peacock blue, and rose glass.
One of my favorites is because of its design and size, the automated motorized adjustability, and the creativity that can provide to the designer to create a light-art installation.
I particularly loved the cove lighting implementation and the balanced lighting atmosphere that is created in the space where the light is exactly in the levels that need to be. This is one of the projects that I would like to experience in person on my next trip to the US.
Metropoli is one of my favorite winning projects because of the successful translation of the concept and the narrative into the space. It is great to see how different elements of the movie have become part of the ambiance and the atmosphere of the space. This warm and low-level light, the contrast, and the overall ambient lighting set this project as well on my travel visit list when I will be in Mexico.
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