In January, the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) invited its 800 members to participate in an online economic impact survey to determine how they're being affected by the current financial crisis. Approximately 178 people responded to the 12-question survey, which asked about layoffs and other cuts, the greatest challenges lighting designers face in the current business climate, and their outlook for the remainder of 2009 and beyond.

Seventy-five percent of all respondents indicated that the economy was having either a strong negative or slight negative impact on their business. Eleven percent of respondents reported a positive impact, and 14 percent indicated no change at all.

Of those who reported a negative impact on their firms, 53 percent indicated their reactions have ranged from more prudent spending to budget cuts and hiring freezes. By contrast, 29 percent have not had to implement any cost-saving measures. And unlike the many architecture firms that have had to make drastic personnel cuts, lighting design firms have been relatively unaffected. Overall, only 15 percent of respondents indicated staff layoffs at the administrative and junior-designer levels.

The top reported challenges for 2009 are finding new work (46 percent) and collecting payments owed (37 percent). But despite the difficult economic times, which respondents expect to last at least 12 months, the optimists (50 percent) are slightly ahead of the pessimists (46 percent). In a statement, IALD executive vice president Marsha Turner noted, “Significantly, it's not all doom and gloom. There is a lot of trepidation—understandably—but there is definite optimism that comes through in the feedback.” Full survey results are available at