A native Californian, Ann Kale cut her lighting teeth in New York as one of the early participants in the IALD Internship Program with Wheel Gertzoff Associates. She later worked for Jerry Kugler Associates. In 1988, she opened her own office in New York City—Ann Kale Associates, which, in 2003, relocated to Santa Barbara, Calif. While she notes that the “competition and pace of New York was exhilarating and perhaps unequaled” California offers a different way of working—one that offers greater work-life balance and the time to explore new creative opportunities.
What specific skill set does a lighting designer bring to a project?
The ability to understand what an architect or interior designer is trying to create and then add to their vision with illumination. Lighting is what breathes life into a space.
What excites you about LEDs?
We now have this tremendously efficient source and it still allows us to create dynamic lighting designs and meet the energy code.
What doesn’t excite you about LEDs?
LEDs are a very complicated light source. That translates into a greater amount of time to write a spec, time designers are not necessarily compensated for.
What is one change you’d like to see?
Lighting manufacturers need to start producing price sheets for line-item pricing. Furniture manufacturers do, as do almost all building material suppliers. It’s a more transparent way of doing business and it doesn’t put pressure on designers to defend a design after the fact because somewhere along the way the lighting equipment has been marked up too much.
Do you still feel like you have the flexibility to design, even in California, which has some of the strictest energy codes?
Absolutely. Energy codes have made me a better designer … forced me to use my eraser as much as my pencil. People oftentimes underestimate how powerful erasers are.
You wish the lighting community would take a stand on …
Architectural publications not listing lighting designers in the project credits. That is a great disservice to their membership and [misleads] people about who did the lighting. •
“What’s exciting about being a designer is meeting challenges in a creative way.” -- lighting designer, Ann Kale, principal of Ann Kale Associates