In October, I had the great privilege of participating in the International Landscape Lighting Institute Workshop (illionline.org) offered by lighting designer Jan Lennox Moyer at Saluki Park, the property she and her husband George Gruel, also a photographer, own in Brunswick, N.Y., a short drive from Albany. I was invited to attend the class by Jan and institute board member John Tremaine. They were keen to have an editor experience the workshop, and I was keen to put down my pen, get back to some hands-on design, and have the opportunity to actually work with luminaires. The experience exceeded my expectations in every way.
Although I have been writing about lighting design for the past decade and have seen my fair share of product demonstrations, nothing compares to working with light fixtures and testing lamps, color temperatures, and beam spreads in real time on real objects. Add to the mix an incredibly diverse group of professionals, brought together because of their shared interest in landscapes and light, and you have an unprecedented opportunity to learn and trade ideas.
I came away from the experience not only with an entirely new set of colleagues but with an even greater appreciation for lighting—both in terms of what lighting designers do and the nuances specific to landscape lighting design. It’s one thing to see a fixture on display at a trade show or read a product spec sheet and think you understand the functionality behind the fixture, but that all changes when you’ve actually had to stake a fixture in the ground—and in the dark—or explain to an arborist dangling 60 feet in the air where you’d like a luminaire positioned, as I had the opportunity to do at Saluki Park.
This hands-on experience has given me a new perspective on the stories we cover, both in print and online, particularly when it comes to product write-ups. While I believe architectural lighting has always done a thorough job of culling out the salient features of a luminaire in our product coverage, the workshop experience has reinforced for me that there are entirely different sets of criteria specific to fixture types and categories. The features that are important for a landscape lighting luminaire are different from those of, say, an interior downlight or a wallwasher. Even within the larger category of outdoor lighting, it is clearer to me than ever that landscape lighting is something very specific, with its own set of issues and product requirements distinct from other exterior lighting applications, such as façade lighting or street and area roadway lighting.
Read the story here. But what I learned at the workshop is larger than the pages of this issue can hold, so I invite you to also visit our website where you’ll find a behind-the-scenes look at the class, a discussion of the evolution of Moyer’s seminal text (The Landscape Lighting Book [Wiley, 2013]) newly released in a third edition, and the series of articles written by Moyer (in 1989–90) pulled from our archive.
To Jan and her entire team at Jan Moyer Design, her husband, ILLI board member John Tremaine, all my fellow ILLI classmates, the team mentors, the subject-matter experts (who knew how cool pruning could be!), the ILLI manufacturer sponsors who lend their support and their equipment, and the past workshop attendees who provide additional team support: Thank you. Thank you for sharing your time, your knowledge, your perspective, and your ideas. The experience has made me a better designer—and, even more importantly, a better editor.
Elizabeth Donoff, Editor
For more, including a behind-the-scenes look at the workshop experience, click here.