Roger Narboni, Pioneer in Lighting Design, Honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2023 LIT Lighting Design Awards
November 28, 2023
LIT Lighting Design Awards™ stands as a distinguished platform, acknowledging brilliance in lighting design across the globe. Celebrating innovation and creativity, LIT annually recognizes outstanding contributions to the field. This year, the Awards spotlight the recipient of the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award 2023, Roger Narboni, whose exceptional work has left an indelible mark on the world of lighting design.
Roger Narboni is not just a designer, he is a pioneer. Trained as an artist and an electronic engineer, Narboni has realized a number of landscape, urban, heritage, and architectural lightings. With more than 35 years of experience, he has worked across the globe including locations such as Paris, Jerusalem, Sao Paolo, and Hangzhou, China.
Narboni began working with light in 1981 after spending a few years traveling abroad and 3 years in New York. When he came back to Paris he wanted to use light as a way to bring interest together. For him, it was easier to work at the scale of public space so he started putting his ideas together.
In the late eighties, Narboni coined the term lighting designer in French and paved the way for the practice of lighting design in France. He used this word to convince people to pursue the field and to create urban spaces affecting the city’s nighttime atmosphere.
Not only did Narboni invent the field of light urbanism but he also came up with the concept of the lighting master plan methodology. The lighting master plan (LMP) is a discipline that describes the main aspects of urban lighting in a city.
The primary purpose of the lighting master plan is to define the aesthetic and functional lighting criteria, to increase the efficiency, and quality of city lighting, and finally to achieve a secure, comfortable, and well-structured and -lit environment. As a consequence, crafting a lighting master plan has benefits that include saving energy, avoiding light pollution, reducing maintenance costs, creating a unique character for the city, and more.
For Narboni, throughout the most densely populated cities in the world, there have been different policies to reduce carbon emissions. These include and are not restricted to reducing the number of cards in the cities and encouraging other types of transportation such as bicycles. Consequently, these urban developments encourage us to change the way we perceive public lighting in cities. This idea includes lighting for vehicles and street lighting during the night.
The luminous city established a relationship with public spaces and allows us to open up to new innovations and ways to change how we live. This is also another way according to Narboni to introduce lighting in our daily routine.
Later, in 1988, he founded Concepto, a studio whose heart lies in realizing innovative lighting designs that tackle societal issues. The studio works in planning and construction to foster the use of space at night and properly deal with nighttime, which represents 50% of our yearly time.
Moreover, the company is committed to reducing climate change and signed the Manifest of Lighting Designers Sustainable Lighting Projects.
In buildings, Concepto reveals materiality and volumes through plays of natural and artificial light and creates atmospheres that serve the architecture and the public. One of the main goals of the studio is to adopt an approach that is respectful of darkness. Furthermore, Concepto is moving forward with its commitment to reconciling light and darkness and intends to become a reference company when it comes to light ecology.
It is of utmost importance to note that Concepto has initiated and contributed to the development of multiple design strategies such as integrating the lighting component in multiple urban projects, staging city centers, foreshadowing urban mutations, defining nocturnal identity, valuing local cultural customs, developing dark infrastructures for its lighting design strategy, and more.
The company has always kept an eye on the quality of its projects and has honed the balance between expertise and curiosity in its practice. Additionally, some of the core values of the team are sharing and collective smarts as well as professional ethics and talent appreciation.
Hangzhou, Grand Canal, China
Located 200 kilometers South of Shanghai, the city of Hangzhou is crossed by a large network of canals. The Hangzhou government decided to transform the industrial image of the Grand Canal over a 10-kilometer span in the city center, by renovating not only its waterfronts but also initiating diurnal and nocturnal cruises and creating a nighttime landscape attracting visitors.
The aim of the Lighting Masterplan was to reveal the beauty of the site, its monumental nature, identity, characteristics, and the richness of its traditional architecture as well as of its landscape. The waterfront landscape has been unified and emphasized through a blue-green-toned light.
The new nighttime landscape has transformed the site for tourists’ enjoyment, but it has also shaped a pleasant, one-of-a-kind luminous atmosphere that locals fully enjoy as well. This project has received the 2nd International Prize “City People Light” presented by the LUCI association in 2009.
Sèvres, Facade of the National Ceramics Museum, France
Located on the domains of Saint Cloud Park, the National Ceramics Museum is among the 23 buildings designated Historical Monument of the Sèvres City of Ceramics. The city of Sèvres planned the illumination of the main facade of the museum to be part of the public lighting renovation Public-Private Partnership for the cities of Sèvres and Boulogne-Billancourt.
This lighting design has been conceived in reference and in reverence to ‘Sèvres blues’ that are characteristic of Sèvres ceramics. Completed in 2012, the lighting design plays an important role in the nocturnal landscape of the Seine riverfront and asserts its presence from far away.
Terrasson-Lavilledieu, Pont-Vieux (Old-Bridge), France
The Old Bridge is a 130-meter-long, arch-shaped work, which has been declared a historical monument. It underwent restoration in 2017 for which a lighting design project has been required. In this context, Concepto has worked together with the Ponsot ACMH office to finish this design.
The Pont Vieux (Old Bridge) is at the center of the exceptional nighttime landscape setting. It is located at the foot of a cliff and its fortifications, bordering woods, and the city center of abrasion-Villedieu in the Dordogne region. Because the bridge is simple, the studio had chosen to enliven the materiality through a play of lighting beams. A grazing light highlights the texture of the stone on the vertical axis. Crossed and inclined beams of light create a yellow, white, and amber light trail on the surface, whose vibration can be felt even from afar, and whose detail becomes legible from close-up.
Lighting Masterplan, Jerusalem, Israel
Israeli authorities in charge of Jerusalem’s development decided in 2010 on a Lighting Masterplan for the old town and its vicinity, in order to promote the cultural and touristic development of this pilgrimage town at night.
The plan aimed to define the role of the fortified wall in the future nighttime image and silhouette of the old town. Another goal was to imagine the greater landscape at nighttime, focusing on the luminous atmospheres of the streets as well as the architectural lighting of the main monuments.
The plan included a lighting strategy for the six teams of architects in charge of the studies of the renovation of the public spaces in the Old Town. Concepto supported the planning of the Jaffa Gate and the Omar Ibn El-Khattab plaza.
The master plan and Jaffa’s Door were both completed in 2012.
Although Concepto’s work in lighting design is exceptional, Narboni has done more outstanding work. He has written a large number of articles and is the author of many known books and science-fiction novels.
Academic Work and Publications
Narboni has been invited as a keynote speaker in congress, seminars, and conferences in many countries. In addition to this, he teaches Lighting Design Master classes and leads international professional workshops about light urbanism in France and abroad.
Narboni’s teaching career starts as early as 1999 and extends to current days. He was a teacher at Superior National School for Nature and Landscaping in Blois from 1999 until 2007 and in Versailles from 2003 to 2015. During the period between 2014 and 2018, he was a guest teacher in Russia and Italy where he taught various courses.
Since 2017 Narboni has been an associate lecturer on Light Urbanism at the WINGS University in Wismar, Germany, as part of the master’s degree in architectural Lighting Design with workshops in 2023 and 2024 in Bangkok, Thailands which have been in collaboration with the Royal University of Bangkok (KMUTT).
During the past three decades, Narboni has received multiple lighting awards including the Best Heritage Lighting Award for the Lumi-R night route in Rennes, France, the City People Light Award, for the Valenciennes Lighting Master Plan in France, the Architectural Lighting Award for Rion Antirion bridge in Greece, Nocturnal promenade « The metamorphosis » in Château de Chambord in the USA, and more.
From 1988 to the present day Narboni has partnered with the following lighting companies: Abel, Aubrilam Chrysalis, Philips Lighting,Ragni, Schreder, Selux, Targetti, Technilum, Thorn Zumtobel, and Valmont.
Besides this, Roger Narboni has been a member of different organizations. In 2017 he was a member of the Paris Professional Lighting Design Convention (PLDC) steering committee. This biannual Convention was created for the global lighting design market. Lighting designers, architects, researchers, universities, and clients use the PLDC as a platform to meet and learn about the latest developments in lighting design and discuss the future of the lighting profession.
Additionally, he has been an expert member of the French-Chinese association SFACS from 2016 to 2018 and a member of the editorial committee of the French Internet portal Lightzoom since 2015.
Another of his life achievements is that he is the founding chairman of the humanitarian association Lighting designers without boarders. It brings together over 50 volunteers from across the world from the lighting sector. The association aims to promote lighting design in humanitarian projects and help the establishment of the lighting design profession in countries where it does not exist by providing appropriate training. Furthermore, the goal of the establishment is to encourage local initiatives for a better environment at night and to develop innovative proposals that address the economic difficulties, lack of energy, and sustainability.
Not only is Roger Narboni a winner of prizer and the writer of books, but he is also an innovator. He was the expert responsible for the study and diagnostics of Lighting and nocturnal ambience in the districts for the Ministry of Integration and Fight agains Exclusion, Inter-ministeria Delegation for the City and Urban Social Development in 1995. He is also the person behind the first seminar of the ecology of light organised by AFE and the City of Lyon in 2002.
Roger Narboni‘s extraordinary journey in lighting design has earned him the distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2023 LIT Lighting Design Awards™, solidifying his status as a true luminary in the field. From coining the term “lighting designer” to pioneering the concept of lighting master plans, Narboni’s influence has been transformative. His commitment to sustainable lighting projects through Concepto, along with his dedication to education and humanitarian efforts, further showcases his multifaceted contributions to the world of light. As we celebrate Narboni’s outstanding achievements, it is evident that his impact continues to shape the future of lighting design worldwide.
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