Text: Jesse Lilley, David Müller

16. Jun 2009

Presentation techniques used by experienced lighting designers

At the heart of the lighting designer’s work lies a strange paradox: although the results of lighting design are often highly visual, the actual medium of light remains curiously invisible. For light is famously intangible. It is the unseen partner of the architectural process that calls everything into view except itself. The paradox leads to a central concern of the lighting design profession. How should designers communicate their ideas? How can they address the imagination and intuition of people without a design background and help them understand a concept? And how can clients appreciate the value of light when it cannot itself be seen, touched, heard or felt?

It’s a struggle that almost every lighting designer has to grapple with. “It’s difficult for clients – particularly lay clients who don’t come from a design-related field – to appreciate what we as lighting designers do,” says Mark Major of Speirs and Major Associates. “What we’ve learned over the years is that a lighting designer has to bring to the table the ability to communicate a concept very clearly. Unlike the architect, we don’t get a shot every week at meeting with the client. Often, we’ll only have one or two key presentations at the early stages so we have to make sure those presentations are absolutely right.” Major says that one of the reasons why these initial presentations are so important is not merely to achieve initial buy-in but also to embed the concept deeply into the minds of both client and collaborators for use at later stages. “Once ideas are approved, our job is to hold on to them right the way through the process. If we’ve done a good presentation, a client will still recall it six months down the line when there is mounting pressure on cost and the concept is being challenged. Often, it will be the client who comes to our defence, with a ‘hang on a second, I don’t want that cut, I remember how important it was. ”A well-articulated concept is a necessary instrument for keeping both client and design team on track throughout the process. Establishing common goals with the client and design team is also a crucial first step. […]

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The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 66

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