Katja Heinemann

Working in his garage as a teenager, Brian Stacy never imagined that tinkering with light would lead him to traveling the world as an architectural lighting designer. He has been all over, professionally speaking: designing sound and lighting rigs in high school, a theater degree from DePaul University, an internship with Chicago-based Schuler Shook, exhibit and lighting design at the Field Museum, and then to Arup. At Arup he has moved from Los Angeles to London and New York helping build their lighting group into a division with more than 50 people in nine offices. And while the scope of the projects he works on may have grown, Stacy has not strayed from his roots; he continues to experiment, albeit at a professional level, with integrating architecture and light.

You work with a lot of high-profile architects. How do you execute their designs and still have your expertise recognized?
Our best collaborators are those that are also interested in light and don't want to divorce building performance from aesthetic quality.

Do you practice lighting design differently because you're part of a global firm known for its integrative approach?
The ability to tap into the resources of other design and engineering disciplines is tremendous, especially the spontaneous conversations with colleagues when you are sorting out a design problem.

How has your philosophy of lighting design evolved?
I always try and start a project without any preconceived notions. Then I let experience inform my decision-making process.

How are new technologies shaping the future of lighting?
The influx of LEDs has jump-started a return to understanding a technology to the point where you can begin to manipulate it for the benefit of your project.

Is there an aspect of practice that has taken on a new immediacy in this economy?
Yes, the realization that we are in a business. And these discussions are starting to appear with more frequency at lighting conferences.

What do you see in the future for lighting design?
We have to accept that the power density question is one we're constantly going to struggle with. It's part of a new set of design challenges we need to be able to grab hold of.