illumni People Profile: Christian Wendel
Originally trained as an architect in Germany, Christian Wendel was drawn to the emotion and impact of light on the built environment, joining lighting consultancy MBLD in 2005. He has a Master of Science in Architectural Lighting Design from the Royal Institute of Sweden (KTH). He has worked on a diverse range of projects with leading architects and design consultancies; including Marble Arch, London, 201 Bishopsgate & Broadgate Tower, London, the Armani Hotel, Milan and the One & Only Urban Resort, Cape Town. He is currently working on the Rafael Vinoly ‘Walkie Talkie’ Building in the City of London, an extensive leisure development in Egypt which includes lighting the worlds largest artificial lagoon, the new Corinthia Hotel in Abuja/ Nigeria, the Lighting Master plan for Qatar and a Dragone Theatre in Dubai.
Marble Arch House
Can you sum up your design philosophy in a sentence or two?
I believe that good design is the result of a process everybody can learn. In case of doubt, have a coffee, think about something entirely different and try again a little later.
Most designers have places, spaces, or experiences that they find inspirational – can you share your absolute favourite with us and tell us how and why it inspires you?
I visited the lava fields on Big Island/ Hawaii, where you can poke a stick into flowing lava, and have to say that my fascination was at the level of a 5 year old boy playing with fire. Then, on the way back in the dark, we turned around by chance and there was a midnight rainbow caused by the full moon. I was astonished by its beauty, but especially struck by the fact that I had been a lighting designer for quite a while at this point and hadn’t even known that this was possible.
The world is full of interesting people who influence us and shape the way we think – is there anyone out there that you are dying to meet?
I know it’s probably a cliché, but I’d like to meet James Turrell. His installations just never fail to create wonder no matter how long one has been working in the lighting industry. Maybe he’d even give me a ticket for Roden Crater?
“The Light Inside” James Turrell, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Can you tell us something that not many people know about you or your work but you wish they did?
Don’t challenge me to a duel. I’ve done 17 years of competitive fencing and was 2nd in world ranking at one point. Would that in combination with my Master degree in Architectural Lighting Design make me a Jedi?
Christian’s first Lighting Project (Luminale 2004, in association with Isabel Dominguez)
What would you say has been your most unusual source of creative inspiration to date?
Getting the chance to view the world around me from different perspectives, may it be by travel, conversation, reading and generally just suspending my initial thoughts for a while to allow other ideas.
And your favourite creative collaboration?
Working with Giorgio Armani on the Armani Hotel Milan. It is quite impressive how a creative mind can laterally approach all kinds of design disciplines as it is the case with Mr Armani.
What springs to mind if I ask you what is your all time favourite bit of kit?
It’s not an actual tool, but common sense tends to be extremely useful.
What, for you, is the most exciting thing about working in the field of lighting design…..?
Everybody can relate to lighting and can have an opinion about it. It is exciting to see how easily this subject gets everybody around oneself excited.
201 Bishopsgate & Broadgate
And the most annoying or upsetting thing about working in the field of lighting design?
Dependency on other parties can be quite difficult, especially with tight deadlines. This is obviously not only true for lighting designers but can sometimes be quite frustrating.
20 Frenchurch Street
I say light; you say ?
It always surprising how ubiquitous light is. It’s extremely rare to find oneself in a place that is really entirely dark.