Glenn Shrum, Partner,
Flux Studio, Takes a look back at:
2015 – This is the year that was

glenn shrum

2015 – Was it a year to remember or forget? Brilliant? As you imagined? Treacherous? Better than expected? Intriguing? Profitable? Was it unrelenting? Glenn Shrum, Partner, Flux Studio, Looks back at the 365 days that has made up 2015.

How was it for you? (2015 that is)

2015 was definitely a year to remember for me professionally. It was full of exciting moments at Parsons as I took over the role of being Director of the MFA Lighting Design Program. Most notably, the Light Years Event, was a celebration of Parsons’ lighting design program history and a great opportunity to consider our future. Additionally,​

My practice, Flux Studio, grew with the addition of some very talented designers and we started several exciting projects that include daylighting scope. We’re also excited to be working on our first permanent light art piece.​

Remember how you felt this time last year?

This time last year I felt optimistic​,​ but I suppose I’m an optimist at heart. I had a general idea that the market was going to continue to be stable and improve a bit. We found that to be true and were fortunate to have expanded project opportunities as compared to what we anticipated.

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As far as Parsons goes, this time last year I was a bit uneasy about taking on the ​D​irectorship of the Masters of Fine Arts in Lighting Design program.​ ​Indeed there turned out to be a lot to be learn​ed​ and I continue to​ be​ settling​ into​ this important role​,​ but a year later I feel more equipped to consider the future of this ground breaking program.

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With hindsight, what might you have done differently?

I think it would have been a good idea to get more sleep​…​​but I’m not exactly sure when I would have done that.

What have you created in the past 12 months that you would like us to know about?

On the Flux Studio side, I would like to get the word out about the completion of our project at the Washington Monument in Baltimore. We’re really excited about how that project turned out and to be a part of the first electric lighting solution in this historic space that supported the architectural intent.

The original architecture, completed in 1829, was initially experienced by visitors without gaslight or electric light. Whereas the previous lighting design solution was engineering​-​oriented and resulted in even lighting on most surfaces, our approach to the project used the spatial condition provided by daylight and lantern light and how they related to the architectural intent as precedent for the new spatial composition. In our project​,​ we tried to be very considerate ​of​ how​ we deployed​ electrical light ​and to use it in a way that was more consistent​ with​ Robert Mills​’​ original architectural intent.

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I would also like your readers to know about the Light Years​​ event that took place at Parsons in October of 2015.

More specifically​,​ the 2045 session featured recent graduates and current students of Parsons’ Lighting Design program. I couldn’t have been more impressed by the thoughtfulness, insight and clarity with which these young designers took on the question of what lighting design should or could be in 2045. I really hope that people in our field take the time to watch the videos​​ that were created for this program and also the panel discussion that featured a really lively conversation about the future of lighting design.

If you could change one thing going into 2016 (business related) what would it be?

If I could change one thing business related it would be to make LED dimming straight forward and high performing. Our clients don’t understand the challenges in delivering acceptable dimming performance in the current marketplace, let alone pay us to navigate it. I’m concerned about the long term impact of compromised dimming performance included in many lighting installations today and how long they will be in place. Lighting control is so important and it seems like the manufacturing industry is just now starting to get their hands around the issues with LED sources.

​Also, ​I can’t resist sharing one opinion from an academic point of view. I would love to change assessment of coursework in Parsons’ Lighting Design program to pass / fail. It is clich​é​d​ to say that grades get in the way of the educational process​,​ but having just made my way through another end of semester grading sequence with our students so focused on very minor differences in grades that they are given​,​​ I know from the conversations I have with students during the course of the semester, that learning varies based on their commitment and prior skill level. The nuances of this process aren’t always reflected in the grade and that is OK. So, I would like to change our masters program so our students and faculty can focus more generally on the academic experience rather an oversimplified final grade.

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