There is a common misunderstanding that lighting designers like myself design lights and chandeliers or that I simply pick out lights for a project. Anyone can pick out light fixtures but not everyone can design a luminous concept, which is the role of a lighting designer.
Lighting design is about painting or filling up spaces with layers that allow people to feel something more. Light can make you want to linger on or make you leave a place sooner. It’s not about making a space look brighter or the idea that the more lights there are, the better.
For example, we did the lighting for habitat by honestbee. It is the first supermarket cum experience centre and you can feel the sense of space and you want to hang out there.This feeling is created without the lighting fixtures being obvious. For the Singapore Buddhist Lodge, I designed five layers of light to fill the main hall. It brings the temple to life, creating different moods rather than illuminating the space with floodlights.
I have to convince clients why they need a lighting designer. There’s a misconception that the value of lighting is low since it is intangible. But lighting can bring up the value of good design, help with branding, help a shop sell more goods and make an office more productive, among other benefits.
I seek meaningful collaborations with clients, architects and interior designers. But it’s not always possible because not every collaborator is open to my lighting ideas. There are times we get hired too late and we end up having to rectify jobs which can be costly. In Singapore there are fewer than 30 lighting design practices and only a small percentage are Singaporean firms so people might not take a local firm seriously. There are no lighting design courses in Singapore, so people think that lighting designers are not skillful.