Olde Town Conyers, Georgia was transformed for two nights in early March as part of the annual Festival of Lights sponsored by Conyers, Georgia-based Acuity Brands Lighting in collaboration with co-sponsor Osram Sylvania. Twelve teams composed of lighting designers from across the United States, lighting manufacturer representatives, and four students from the master's lighting program at Parsons the New School for Design in New York City were charged with creating lighting schemes for 12 sites in the historic downtown area. With only two days to design, plan, and install the lighting equipment themselves, with assistance from a team of local electricians, the groups had a monumental task.
A testament to the design creativity and ingenuity of the teams, the limited budgets—$200 for miscellaneous supplies—and offering of equipment (team members had to negotiate with one another for their desired fixtures) did not deter the designers from creating successful and engaging illumination schemes. The lighting designs were as varied as the sites themselves, from building façades to landscapes to an old steam locomotive.
Modeled after the 150-year-old Fête des Lumières in Lyon, France, the Conyers festival seeks to provide a creative experience for the designers where their lighting skills are not tested by the realities of everyday practice—clients, budgets, and energy codes. As Bill Peel, director of Acuity's Jim H. McClung Lighting Center says, “It's about design freedom and eliminating the limitations.”
The result was 12 projects that infused-Olde Town Conyers with vibrancy. An intense and rewarding experience for the lighting teams, it was equally so for the local residents who benefit from watching their town transformed into a luminous expression of creativity.