In 2019 I became Italian ambassador Women in Lighting (Wil), an international project born with the intention of celebrating and enhancing women who wash in the field of lighting, to highlight their results, successes, increase their authority and provide role models so as to encourage, support and inspire future generations to work in this sector.
What is Women in Lighting?
What Women in Lighting does is what fortunately is happening today in all sectors: the search for a balance between genders by defusing the mechanisms of active discrimination against women and not only.
It is the famous #Balanceforbetter. Quoting Marilauisa Palumbo - scientific director at Inarch National Institute of Architecture, they are "rebalancing practices to accelerate the time of transformation, and help all girls and women (not only the luckiest for the education, the help they have received and the strong character that they have somehow formed) to find themselves in a condition of equal opportunity, starting from which we can go back to talking about merit.”
The creation of a huge digital database that collects testimonials and video interviews of many professional Lighting Designers was the first effective action carried out by the creators of the project, the London studio Light Collective, supported by the formalighting company and the Lighting Designer Katia Kolovea of Archifos.
Thanks to a strong presence on social media that has created a large following of the project, today this database continues to be enriched also thanks to the activities carried out by as many as 77 ambassadors in over 50 countries around the world.
What is a database of female Lighting Designers for?
Providing a tool that can be consulted by everyone, profiling designers and providing journalists looking for new projects and names to publish with information to work with. It seems, in fact, that finding female designers to publish is a difficult undertaking.
There are so many here!
Furthermore, this database provides a list of possible speakers for conferences, competition juries, always ensuring a fair turnover of speakers, avoiding 'manel' («all male panel»).
I agree with Michela Murgia when she says: “prestige is stratified, putting together your authority, the things you have studied, the things you know how to do and the opportunities that are offered to you to share this authority".
In fact, I do not deny that if in my professional growth, in addition to having seen women stepping on each other's shoes following a narrative that sees them constantly in challenge (to cover, among other things, never top-level roles), I had seen many more above in those boxes, inside those juries, it would have been easier to identify with and imagine myself up there, perhaps, one day.
The value of an international collaboration
Women in Lighting is an international project that works thanks to the presence of national ambassadors who carry out different initiatives, dictated by the profound local cultural differences.
Within the project, here in Italy, as a female designer with her own business, mother and ambassador, I act as a facilitator on two fronts.
Women in Lighting in Italy
The first starts from the fact that the majority of Italian Lighting Designers are independent freelance professionals: it was therefore essential to propose and promote the good practice of training for the development of one's business.
Learn to take the time to design a business plan and growth strategy, define priorities, train in public speaking and learn to manage time between family and work by setting the right boundaries.
In fact, today many are entrusted, almost entirely, with all family care tasks.
Doing this journey together, learning how to create solid alliances, discovering the correct ways to support each other even in purely male contexts as well as freeing a little from the sense of inadequacy that many of us feel every day, helps in a concrete way : it makes us relax and lower our defenses and finally we regain a feeling of contentment mixed with fun that perhaps was lost along the way.
The other front is to raise awareness as much as possible of the theme of good lighting by making the importance and specificity of our work understood, through correct and continuous disclosure,.
In fact in Italy if we talk about Lighting Design we are rarely understood.
There are masters in Lighting Design in Italy such as at the Polytechnic in Milan and at the Sapienza in Rome and in the world and therefore it is a specialization. But nobody seems to know this.
If you then decide to translate it and say Lighting designer the imagination stops and everything is erroneously resized.
Ours is a job that combines technical knowledge and aesthetic sensibility and in fact they are often designers and architects who specialize.
But I've heard architects and curators of important events in the world of design define 'bright events as referring to something that has been designed and calibrated, so we understand that the problem is difficult.
In short, our profession (which has changed so much in recent years due to the technological innovations that have involved the lighting industry) is more recognized abroad where it is often mandatory that there is a Lighting Designer in the project team, be it on an urban scale or on architectural interventions.
And this despite illustrious historical examples such as Castiglioni and Magistretti designed shapes with the intention of shaping and directing this extraordinary design element which is light.
Promoting Lighting Designers is therefore a twofold challenge which, beyond gender, can also help to affirm the professionalism of those who shape that impalpable but fundamental element that is light.
I think that by triggering these processes it will be easier over time to build more open work environments, able to overcome gender stereotypes and lay the foundations for experimenting with new ways of collaboration, leadership and mentoring for the benefit of all.