I have a confession to make—I have a love/hate relationship with lighting products. Perhaps as editor of a publication whose existence derives from advertising revenue generated by product manufacturers, this is not something I should admit. However, during my tenure at Architectural Lighting magazine, and particularly in the past year as its principal editor, I have always found that editorial honesty is well received and welcomed by a readership that is composed of both the design and manufacturing communities.
So what do I mean by a “love/hate relationship” with lighting products? In reality the publication has two main audiences—designers and manufacturers. Of course there is overlap between the two groups, but for the most part the dividing line is quite clear. (And as much as I would like to think of our readership as one entity, not to acknowledge multiple audiences would be to ignore the diversity that exists in the lighting community.) As an editor, one of the greatest challenges in crafting the editorial lineup for each issue is finding a balance between project and product coverage that will appeal to the publication's two principal audiences. But the longer I work on this magazine it becomes clear to me that to think of products only in terms of commodified objects—the form of a 50 word write-up with an accompanying image—does not serve well the luminaire, the luminaire designer and engineer, the manufacturer, the designer specifying the product, or even the end-user. What if instead we were to view products as tools and resources, and described them as such?
It seems particularly appropriate to address this topic in Architectural Lighting's annual “Projects and Products” issue. Editorially, this anchor issue was conceived long before I arrived on the scene, but its purpose—to expand the design discussion and include information about the actual products (tools and resources) used to realize the design—is just as important today. This year the editorial staff and individual writers have paid extra attention in developing these entries, making sure to describe both how the products (tools and resources) are actually used in the projects, and whether any modifications or customizations were required. And yes, we the editorial staff write these entries. I am always amazed when I meet readers who think that the product write-ups are paid advertising. As with all the editorial content that finds its way to the print and web pages of Architectural Lighting magazine, the editors read and review specifications sheets for each product culling out the points that we in our editorial capacity and design experience believe will be the salient features of interest to you.
Going forward it is my wish to recast the product discussion on the pages of Architectural Lighting magazine in a way that will expand the thinking behind these components that enable designers and manufacturers each in their own way to create. The exact form of this discussion is still taking shape, but will most likely rely on several editorial typologies including case studies and manufacturer interviews. Just as the pages of Architectural Lighting have served as a place for discussion on pressing industry issues, our pages can also help serve as a forum between designers and manufacturers to address product development. And I know that a more regular discourse between designers and manufacturers is something of interest to all parties. I heard it repeatedly throughout conversations during the spring conference season, and it's expressed on the very pages of this issue as well.
Products, reconsidered as tools and resources are a good thing. Without them, projects would be incomplete, impossible really, and the inquiries behind their development serve more than just the end result object. As new technologies emerge and raise the bar for product discussions, so too must we continue to refine and raise the standard for this type of editorial reportage. I hope all readers—designers and manufacturers alike—will join me in this tools and resources editorial revolution.
I'D ALSO LIKE TO TAKE A MOMENT TO SHARE SOME RECENT AND EXCITING HAPPENINGS here at the magazine. The hard work and long hours have been rewarded in the form of two Eddie Awards for editorial excellence. In the category B-to-B: Design/Advertising/Marketing, Architectural Lighting's March 2007 issue won bronze, and in the category B-to-B: Design/Advertising/Marketing, Single Article, my April/May 2007 Editor's Comment “An Incandescent Truth” received silver. But as it is said, no man (or woman) is an island, and this work would not have been possible without a dedicated editorial and art team as well as contributing writers. So to all of you who were involved with these two issues, I say, thank you.
I am also pleased to announce that after a year of transition, the editorial staff is rebuilding itself. Jennifer Lash joins A|L this month as associate editor, Stephani L. Miller joined A|L in June as associate web editor, and Aubrey Altmann, Marcy Ryan, and Sam Resta join A|L this month as the new art team. Their talent is seen throughout the pages of this issue. Please join me in welcoming them.
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2007 EXCHANGE QUESTION: There are many ways in which an individual can arrive at the practice of lighting design. For some it is born out of architectural study and training. For others it is an engineering path, and yet still there are those individuals who discover lighting through artistic pursuits. The question then is, whether through formal academic means or individual inquiries: How do you educate for lighting? How do you prepare and train someone to practice lighting design?
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