The city of Montreal played host to the International Association of Lighting Designers' (IALD) 7th Annual Education Conference—Enlighten Americas. Approximately 260 members of the lighting community, including designers, manufacturers, and students, gathered October 11-13, 2007, for a full lineup of seminars, social events, and networking opportunities.
The first day launched with the unveiling of the IALD's new branding campaign—The Power of Light. A comprehensive marketing tool and identity system that includes a new logo (a blade of light), this effort reflects what current IALD President Graham Phoenix referred to as the “new IALD,” where art, science, vision, and passion meld into one. Jeff Miller, IALD president-elect, emphasized the point. “The new IALD is a move from design to advocacy and to promote the importance of lighting through the brand and the experience,” he said. “The process to ‘rebrand' provides a new focus for the IALD, one that will enable the organization to better communicate its current mission and strategic goals in a succinct message.” Conference attendees were then introduced to the campaign with a dynamic video presentation and an overview of the concept by Dave Studeman, principal of Brand Engine, the Sausalito, California, strategy company that conceived the new identity and logo. Additionally, the IALD's website (iald.org) was relaunched to reflect the new brand and to promote and reinforce the “international” component of the organization's title. To that end, the website is now accessible in seven different languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Chinese, Arabic, and Russian.
Another of the principal general sessions was the Town Hall Meeting, moderated by Elizabeth Donoff, editor of Architectural Lighting. Structured to address current topics of import, such as education, communication, practice paradigms, and new technologies, the panel discussion and subsequent open forum centered around the question: Where is lighting design heading? A six-person panel representing academia, practice, and manufacturing was assembled: Jimalee Daikin of Visa Lighting; lighting designer Sean O'Connor of Sean O'Connor Associates; Gerd Pfarré, principal of Munich–based Pfarré Lighting Design; IALD president Graham Phoenix; Derek Porter, director of the MFA lighting design program at Parsons the New School for Design in New York City; and Jean Sundin, principal of New York City lighting design firm Office for Visual Interaction. During the course of the two-hour discussion, which began with remarks by each of the panel members and followed with questions and animated participation from the audience, the conversation touched on numerous threads: the importance of lighting education; the need to clearly define what architectural lighting is; the need for new technologies to be more easily implemented into today's practice; and the need for communication between all segments of the industry to occur on an ongoing basis, not just once a year.
Seminars covered a vast range of topics: from the work of Canadian lighting designers to discussions on lighting research and project submission for the IALD award program. Exchange between lighting designers and manufacturers took place at the Lighting Cross Talk session, small-group conversations that provide manufacturers and designer one-on-one dialogue.
The 14 students in attendance, representing lighting programs in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Sweden, Germany, and Brazil, also were busy during the conference attending sessions, meeting practitioners, and participating in LightPlay, an on-site design charrette in which they were asked to reimagine a hotel room using only the materials and light found in the room itself.
A nice counterpoint to the day's formal sessions were the evening receptions, which provided a relaxed atmosphere for continued discussion and highlighted Montreal's art scene. On Friday night, conference attendees were treated to a Cirque du Soleil-like performance at the Museé d'art contemporain de Montréal, sponsored by Acuity Brands Lighting Group, and the Parisian Laundry Modern Art Gallery served as the venue for the Saturday evening closing reception, sponsored by Lightolier.
The conference offered attendees much to think about both in terms of the state of the profession and each individual's role in fostering recognition for the practice of lighting design. “It is a demanding profession that requires uncompromising integrity,” commented David Mintz, recipient of the IALD Lifetime Achievement Award. His advice to students—”Listen with your ears, act with your heart”—was a fitting reminder of the IALD's new mantra: the power and passion of light to transform people and places.