We have been asked many times what we like most about being a lighting design firm. Of course, the obvious answer is the creative aspect of using light as a medium with architecture. Another would be the collaboration with others when working on a project. Working with other professionals to bring a concept to design completion is extremely rewarding.
For independent lighting designers, collaboration on projects can be quite extensive. On any given project, we will be collaborating with multiple influencers. The most common ones are architect, interior designer, and electrical engineer, for apparent reasons.
However, light touches every aspect of an architectural design. Our collaboration extends to other influencers as well. Exterior and façade lighting needs to be coordinated with the landscape architect. If there is a pool or fountain, we may have to design and coordinate the lighting in and around the water.
We also design the lighting control systems. This means we need to collaborate with the A/V consultant to integrate systems, and let’s not forget coordinating with the client or owner’s representative how they want these systems to function.
Others we work with during the design phase would be the mechanical engineer to coordinate fixture placement with HVAC equipment; the millwork contractor for lighting in cabinets and cases; LEED and WELL consultants; and code officials. Throughout the course of the project are numerous conversations and meetings with manufacturers and lighting reps to obtain product information and review samples. Finally, add the electrical and general contractors and you have quite a list. The graphic below gives an overview of the professionals we encounter on projects:
The better the communication with these influencers, the better the outcome of the project. However, I have had conversations with some architects who have used the phrase “herding cats” when it comes to working with outside consultants. The architects that voice the most frustration are typically the ones who rarely, or have never, worked with an independent lighting designer.
Because lighting touches every aspect of the project, it must be coordinated and managed. The value that an independent lighting designer brings to the project will far outweigh the fee. Some examples are:
We think of collaboration as building a bridge to each person involved in a project to keep information moving, to intercept possible problems, and to build trust. We have focused on the technical aspects in this series, but our first love is design, the projects we influence, and the people with whom we build relationships.
In our next, and last, article in this series on “How to Make Sure Your Lighting Design Gets on the Finished Project”, we will conclude with the importance of selecting the right lighting designer for your next project. If you would like to find a better way to light your projects, give us a call at 615.596.3001, or reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Danny Streit, IALD, IES, LC is Design Principal of DHS Lighting Design in Nashville, TN, and has over 20 years’ experience in architectural lighting design and lighting control systems. He has successfully completed over 1300 designs in his career and has a history of providing innovative, functional, and sustainable lighting solutions for any design application. email@example.com
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