THE ILLUMINATING ENGINEERING SOCIETY OF NEW YORK'S (IESNY) 8TH ANNUAL NYC STUDENT LIGHTING COMPETITION invited students of interior design, engineering, architecture, lighting, and art to participate in and explore how light can be used to activate an emotion or rekindle a memory, hence the title of this year's competition, “Evocative Luminance.”

More than 25 entries from six New York area schools and universities—New York University, Pratt Institute, Parsons the New School for Design, the Fashion Institute of Technology, the Cooper Union for the Advancement of the Arts, and the School of Visual Arts—were displayed from May 17-19, 2008, at Helen Mills, an event space on West 26th Street in Manhattan's Chelsea arts district.

First place went to Chung-Jung Liao, a second-year MFA candidate in the lighting program at Parsons the New School for Design. His project, titled Barrel Organ of Light, employed a briefcase as the structural housing and allowed users to arrange black perforated paper sheets as they liked within the case by turning an attached handle. The effect created was one of twinkling stars moving across a dark surface. Liao was awarded a cash prize of $3,000 and an all-expense paid trip to the 2008 Professional Lighting Designers Association (PLDA) workshop in Alingsas, Sweden. Liao was also the first place winner in the 2007 IESNY student competition.

Paul Stein took second prize for his entry For the Child Inside Us All. Using Lego building blocks, Stein created a Lego man holding block pieces in its left hand and an illuminated Lego-made lightbulb in its right hand. The bachelor of architecture student at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn illuminated his piece with a 30W compact fluorescent lamp encased in translucent Lego pieces. Stein received a $1,500 cash prize for his entry, which focused on the creative ideas of children and sought to remind viewers that you are never too old to think like a child.

New York University Interactive Telecommunications student Minsoo Lee received third place for his project Reverie. Composed of laminated layers of corrugated plastic and illuminated by five compact fluorescent sources, Lee built only one section of what could be a much larger construction. This was indicated by an accompanying sketch illustrating how his lighting sculpture could be replicated and pieced together like a puzzle. A $1,000 cash prize was awarded to Lee for his efforts.

Three honorable mentions also were awarded for specific components of a project—fabrication, concept, and presentation. The recipients included Nick Foley, an undergraduate industrial design candidate from Pratt Institute for the fabrication of his project a flower-like floor lamp that arches into a spray of illuminated orbs that dim in varying intensities with the push of a button; Paul Chepolis, an MFA candidate at Parsons for his project's concept which explored the subtleties of light, using projection, reflection, movement and color; and Bomun Chang an MA candidate at the Fashion Institute of Technology for the presentation of his project titled Heavenly Flower.

The jury for this year's student competition included New York City-based lighting designers Renee Cooley, principal of Cooley Monato Studio; Enrique Peiniger, principal of Office for Visual Interaction; Donna Summer, senior associate at Susan Brady Lighting Design Studio, and Matthew Tirschwell, founder and principal of Tirschwell & Co., along with Dennis McKee, director of special projects and corporate affairs at Bartco Lighting. Awards were presented on Thursday, April 17, 2008, after a brief presentation by keynote speaker Hervé Descottes, co-founder of lighting design firm L'Observatoire International located in New York City.

Descottes spoke on the topic of the competition—how light can spark an emotion or a memory. He discussed his own inspirations and emotional responses to his projects such as the High Line (the conversion of the fallow elevated railway along Manhattan's west side into public open spaces). “Lighting is very personal as we have our own way of organizing it,” Descottes said. Also during the evening, Peiniger presented past projects completed by PLDA lighting workshops in Alingsas, Sweden. For more information about the IESNY student competition go to