I often speak with Howard Brandston, one of lighting's elder statesmen, to get his perspective on issues that impact the lighting design community. His 50-plus years in the field give him tremendous insight into the evolution of the profession. During our most recent conversation, we talked as usual about a pretty wide range of topics—everything from the incandescent phaseout to quality-of-light issues—but one of Howard's comments in particular stood out to me: Underlying all of his work, all of the issues he devotes his time to, he said, is a constant sense of curiosity. He's not content to accept things simply as they are, and curiosity is his fuel, his energy.
In our busy, overscheduled lives, can we still make time for curiosity? In my opinion, the answer is a resounding yes. We absolutely must. If you're going to choose a career in a design field—whether it is architecture, lighting, landscape, or any other area—curiosity is one of the traits that will be invaluable to your success. Add creativity and collaboration into the mix and you have a powerful recipe for innovation.
Curiosity, creativity, and collaboration are what all of the people, projects, and products included in this issue represent. I always look forward to putting together this annual issue of ARCHITECTURAL LIGHTING, which is organized around the theme of innovation. The challenge is to find a collection of work that represents a richness of ideas, from those individuals and companies who are not afraid to push beyond existing limits to solve problems. In other words, the challenge is to find those who are willing to take a risk in order to achieve excellence.
The pursuit of curiosity, creativity, and collaboration is not easy. At every turn there are obstacles: evaluating the pressure of economic realities; coordinating the work of large, complex project teams; studying and adhering to stringent building and energy codes; and keeping up with the growing awareness of environmental issues. These are merely a few of the problems that you, as a designer, encounter. Yes, at times the design process is a series of trade-offs, but we should never abandon creativity and the exploration of ideas because it is too difficult, too inconvenient, too expensive, or will take too long.
A designer would not be staying true to the essence of design without at least trying to find a solution, even under the most challenging of circumstances. Right now, lighting designers are hard at work, utilizing their unique set of quantitative and qualitative skills to marry the wide-ranging set of issues that confront a project in order to find a cohesive set of solutions.
It might not always be easy to have these three criteria of design (curiosity, creativity, and collaboration) converge—at least not as easy as, say, the criteria for selecting a diamond (carat, clarity, and cut). But when it is accomplished, the result can be truly brilliant.