Impressions of PLDC 2019

“It’s been more than a week since PLDC in Rotterdam, and now that the dust has settled, it is time to reflect on the experience I had.” writes Claire Tomara, Lighting Designer at KSLD | EFLA.

“It is always good to be among peers from all over the world, ready to discuss the latest issues and achievements in lighting design, and the Convention offers this opportunity quite successfully. There were a lot of interesting papers and presentations on this busy schedule. I wouldn’t like to elaborate on each paper I attended specifically. I would like to sum up the feeling I got from all the discussions and the presentations.

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As the keynote speaker Prof. Dr. Jan Rotmans said, “we live in the change of an era”. And our profession is changing. Artificial Intelligence and new technology could make everyday tasks, and the way we work easier, and surely that will affect the industry and the way we design. We are already reflecting on our role in the built environment. As Jonathan Rush mentioned, we are not just lighting designers. We are responsible for the impacts on the environment that our industry creates, the way people experience the space, and also the health and wellbeing of people that use the spaces we design. It was really a relief to see many designers presenting their concerns on the impact of lighting on the environment, the trees, the animals. In addition, I was quite intrigued by the amount of papers that discussed darkness, and how we need to think about darkness in our lighting design schemes.

So yes; our profession is changing. We are increasing our knowledge of the affects of light, not only to our visual perception but also to our health and emotions, as well as the environment surrounding us. With that knowledge comes greater responsibility. Responsibility to keep up with current understanding and apply it wisely in our designs, and of course, to critically think of the way we use the knowledge and available technology and what we do with it.

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But PLDC is not just about the papers. I had the chance to also attend the Pecha Kucha event organised by Women in Lighting. How great to see so many women from all over the world and get inspired by their work and stories. As a woman, and a young lighting designer, this event made me think that there are really no limits to what we can do, and that there are people out there, male and female, ready to support us to get better and develop ourselves.

During PLDC, I also had the opportunity to visit the experience rooms. I would like to particularly mention the Dark Art Experience Room by Chris Lowe, Philip Rafael and Andrés Sánchez Alonso, and the Illuminated Boxes, an installation by the students of University of Applied Arts and Sciences Detmold.

The Dark Art room invites people first into a dim corridor where the words are revealed from shadows. It really tests your perception as not all words are visible when you first enter. Then you slowly move into a darker corridor which leads into a small dark room where you can sit and listen to music. The room is in absolute darkness. The visual experience with your eyes closed or open is the same. This alerts your other senses and particularly the sound as you listen to the music. At the end of the music you follow the same path to exit the room. And what a surprise! Now you are able to read all the words clearly. A great experience to understand how our eyes adapt into different brightness levels. Are we losing these small details as we are moving into brighter places? Do we need a little more darkness to challenge ourselves to adapt, and perceive more?

The Illuminated Boxes was a pleasant break to realise that our creativity is without limits when we work with light or darkness. Students created really tiny spaces, either starting from a completely dark space, or a completely illuminated space. The stories they created with light and shadows were so diverse and creative. This is one of the reasons that I love what I do. Light can change a space, our emotions and our perception.

To end this post, I would like to thank Mesh Lighting and NoWatt Lighting for offering me the chance to attend the conference, as well as Simes for the Gala invitation.

I look forward to seeing how our profession will evolve and how we, as individuals, will also develop with it.”