Where are we now?
Lee E. Brandt, Principal
Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design

Brandt Resume

In response to recent events raising questions around the visibility of the architectural lighting design industry, illumni + Monica Llamas asked some the world’s top lighting practitioners how they feel the industry is perceived today both by peers in the wider design community and the public and what needs to be done in future to progress the way lighting designers’ contributions to architecture, wellbeing, the environment and more can be better appreciated. The answers are very thought provoking. 

To what extent do you think architectural lighting design is understood as a profession and valued by our collaborative partner industries and the wider community today? (e.g. architects, clients, government, urban planners)

I think we are quite valued by architectural firms and owners we collaborate with regularly. Many architects know the value and input a professional lighting designer can add to a project. Either we or the architects may advocate for us to an owner that may not understand what we do. But for an architect who understands our value, and with us helping, our services are usually a fairly easy sell. At the same time, I don’t believe that the wider community – those who don’t work in the built environment industry, government, etc. do know what we do or that we even exist. Even within the built environment, professional lighting designers are only involved in the minority of projects. We don’t touch the majority of projects out there.

How often do you find yourself educating new clients and design partners about the role of lighting designers and advocating the value of lighting design (e.g. scope of brief, timing of being brought into design conversations)?

As we are mostly hired by architects, developers, or owners that know what we do, I don’t have to advocate for the value of lighting designers. We are usually already “at the table”. But I know this can be more common than I experience – hence the articles and brochures on “Why Hire a Lighting Designer”. The question about the role and involvement is good though. I do have to often explain the importance of having us on the project for full scope through construction. Sometimes we are asked to just consult on the early stages or to consult on certain areas of the scope. I have to explain the benefits of using more of our services for a holistic design approach such that there is one design sense, a palette of fixtures that the owner can maintain and use similar lamp or LED modules, consistent quality, consistent color, management of energy for codes and sustainability, etc.

A year on from the introduction of the Certified Lighting Designer (CLD) certification, the world’s first, international, evidence-based certification in architectural lighting design, and 6 months since the UNESCO International Year of Light, during which the industry gained some spotlight, is it just a matter of time until the profession is better recognised for the specific skills we contribute to the design process?

Yes, I do think it just a matter of time. We are a young industry when compared to architects and engineers. There are more and more of us every day and we are getting more and more involved and “out there” in the industry and in front of decision makers. Both the IES and IALD have Public Policy advisers. They travel to Washington DC and advocate for us (Robert Horner and John Martin). We are becoming known. IES and IALD are making strategic partnerships with various other professional societies.

What steps could we take as an industry to further raise the profile and perceived value of lighting design among our key creative partners and the wider community?

We need to take advantage of news items that address lighting issues and be sure we are represented in research that addresses the human impact of light so that when they become news items, accurate information related to lighting is shared. We also need to be sure we continue to ensure there are educators and high level programs on architectural lighting design and application. If there is no one to teach what we do, we will not grow as an industry.

Thank you: Lee E. Brandt, Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design

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