Where are we now?
Brian Belluomini, Principal
Shimstone Design Studio
President, IESNYC


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)

There has been significant growth in our industry over the past 15 years. Here in NYC, the number of attendees at the IES Lumen Awards Gala has doubled in that time, and so that says to me that our services are being valued at an increased rate. I do believe that newly introduced or amended energy codes, regulations, LEED programs and other adopted documents have resulted in increased awareness and demand for our services. Also, the rapid development and proliferation of LED technologies flooding the market has made many of the old standby lighting solutions obsolete, and so guidance is needed in sorting through the new options. Clients want their lighting to be energy efficient, but they also want for it to look good, and so lighting designers are becoming an integral part of the design team for a greater number of projects.

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)?

Speaking of my own observations and experience with Shimstone Design Studio, we are lucky to have clients who I feel are rather sophisticated with respect to appreciating the intricacies of lighting, and who value our contributions to the team. As a relatively small practice, we have architects and clients with whom we regularly collaborate. As we work on various projects together, we learn constantly from each other. We continue to improve our processes and understanding to maximize our effectiveness in contributing to the team.

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 recognized for the specific skills we contribute to the design process?

As mentioned above, I believe lighting designers are being recognized and valued within the architecture industry, at least that has been my experience. I do think there is a long way to go in terms of general public awareness for the lighting design profession.

With regards to the CLD certification, I don’t think there is much awareness of it yet within collaborative partner industries. Real momentum for increasing the proportion of Certified Lighting Designers will come when clients are asking to see your certification. I think if the government and various institutional agencies adopted the certification as a requirement in their RFP’s, then you would see a rush of designers seeking to be certified.

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?

I do believe the IALD was formed to address this specific mandate, and of course many other organizations such as IES, DLF, Building Energy Exchange, and various trade magazines are all doing their part as well. One practical step that we as a community could take to help raise the profile of the profession, is to be vigilant about having lighting designers being credited in all projects that get published across all media. Too often I see MEP engineers get listed, but lighting designers being left out of the credits in newspapers and architecture magazines.

Thank you: Brian Belluomini, Shimstone Design Studio

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