The secrets of a profession that is still little known, but fundamental in the design of spaces, told by lighting designer Giorgia Brusemini

The first cliché to dispel, when talking about lighting design, is that beautiful lamps are one thing, good lighting design is another. "When, nine years ago, I decided to deal exclusively with light design, I understood that I would have to make sure that everyone, even non-experts, became aware of this extraordinary impalpable 'material' in which we are constantly immersed in and which we often don't choose", says Giorgia Brusemini, a designer specialized in lighting designers and creative advisor for various companies in the sector.

"So I opened the blogEvery house is illuminatedand started talking about it with a more informative, emotional and less technical approach. And I started from the iconic lamps of design, from what we Italians understand best by culture, but by focusing and telling anecdotes about the light that these icons emit.

In the end, Castiglioni and Magistretti designed lamps with the specific intent of directing the light. So, no: lighting design is not a lamp, but every lamp or lighting solution can become part of the lighting design project."

Shall we try to give a definition of the discipline that is both technical and emotional at the same time?

"Lighting design can be translated as 'lighting design', but it is reductive and loses all its charm. I prefer to talk about light design, both artificial and natural, and of its integration, for the enhancement of spaces and landscapes.

Ours is a job that combines technical knowledge and aesthetic sensitivity. It means knowing how to use light as both a functional and expressive means and knowing how to influence with it the perception of what surrounds us thanks to the creation of visual hierarchies, precisely determining the experience of those who will use that space, visit that exhibition, that museum, frequent that square or that park.

The lighting designer works in a team in close contact with the architect, but depending on the context, also with the urban planner, the biologist, the curator of the exhibition and other professionals."

In which sectors is there more awareness of the strategic importance of the lighting project and in which less?

"The world of retail, of fashion first and foremost, was among the first to understand how lighting design could be a sales tool and influence it, how the use of luminaires with excellent light quality contributed to improving the purchasing experienceand much more. In these contexts you have a more direct experience linked to the benefits and therefore the path for a professional is more downhill.

Other sectors today are becoming more aware, also driven by the objective needs, for example, of conservation, sustainability, energy saving and even well-being.

As I deal a lot with residential lighting, one of the first things I do when proposing a lighting concept is a very focused interview on the topic of light with the client. They are unusual questions, too.

From the comparison emerge all those clichés that I call false beliefs and which are physiological, since each of us has our own personal relationship with light and consequently with dark, which derives from one's own experience and one's visual memory.

The latter must not always be fought, on the contrary it must be respected and often it is also an opportunity for us professionals to create extraordinary tailor-made creations".

So there are no universal rules?

"It is wrong to think that there are standard rules for the lighting of each specific area of ​​the house: for example, that the light on the dining table or in the entrance is one and only one. Each room has its own peculiarities and they all influence the choice of the type of lighting. This 'non-rule' is very valid for urban spaces, where there is the false belief that more light means more safety.

Lately I have been working on light design in the city, combining lighting design and gender urban planning, urban planning with gender studies, and this has led me to delve deeper into how important it is to deal with the perception of fear in space. public.

We must be aware that more lighting on a quantitative level does not ensure better vision overall, but can provide incorrect visual information, glare, generating real 'visual walls' in the presence of too much contrast between dark and illuminated areas".

How much is the figure of lighting design valued and how much is the lighting project still entrusted to generic architects?

"Fortunately, even here in Italy, most of the architects with whom I collaborate fully understand my skills and the potential of having a specialized figure alongside me.

The involvement therefore takes place right from the early stages of layout and organization of the spaces, then refining itself with the definition of the positioning of the furnishings.

Furthermore, we must not underestimate the fact that from LED onwards technology has evolved, lighting fixtures have changed shape, they have become miniaturised, architectural products have multiplied fivefold, they can be inserted into plasterboard, niches, in walls often before plastering , the challenges are different and if you want to benefit from these solutions they must be included in the project well in advance."

How do you decide to become a lighting designer?

"Generally, we are talking about a person in love with light who can come to the profession from very different training paths. I, for example, after graduating in industrial design I started working in an architecture studio in Milan and the main projects that were entrusted concerned precisely the design of lamps.

For me, therefore, it was a coincidence. But light is like this: if up to a certain point you didn't notice its importance, a moment later you fell in love with it. I have had the opportunity to interact and work with the technical offices of famous Italian lighting brands since I was young.

In those years, designing shapes, experimenting with new LED sources and materials, I began to be seduced by the light component and from there I explored it further.

Those who specialize in lighting design already have a background in architecture or design or engineering; in my time it was part of the two-year course at the Polytechnic but no longer. In Italy there are some courses and masters in Milan and Rome.

And then there are excellent schools abroad such as KTH in Sweden and UCL in the UK. I would add that the profession changes with the evolution of technologies, always requiring new skills: just think of the use of new software for lighting calculations and checks, the evolution and diffusion of home automation systems and much more. All this is addressed today by following these specialization courses."

The pandemic seems to have enlightened us all on the importance of light: is that so?

"Certainly the various lockdowns have helped us to understand whether we live in well-lit spaces. Many priorities have been called into question and those who lived in big cities have understood, for example, that a first floor of 200 square meters, even if in zone 1 , does not receive enough natural light and this affects the well-being of those who live there.

In that period people were very sensitive to everything regarding solutions to improve their stay at home.

I remember that I involved some lighting designer colleagues in the creation of a very popular interview format, #soslighting. These interviews were full of practical indications and 'luminous' anecdotes to be put into practice immediately to make the rooms of the house more comfortable and the forced stay more pleasant."