The SoCal lighting community is that much dimmer for the loss of our colleague and friend Cynthia Lynn Burke of Vista, California. An energetic and creative force in the industry, Cynthia founded Burke Lighting Design in San Diego in 1993. She engaged with lighting education throughout her career and taught lighting for 2 years at the Design Institute of San Diego. Her more recent work included the Revive Salon & Spa with Gensler, lighting the “Autoplast” public art installations by Amy Landesberg and the Viejas Casino & Resort with JCJ Architecture.
“Cynthia was passionate about what she did, and she was universally well thought of, not just because of who she was professionally. She was one of the most warm and engaging people that I got to deal with. Cynthia’s work won numerous awards, which speaks for itself. She was a luminary in San Diego,” said Gordon Grant, owner of Grant & Associates. The IALD issued a statement in memoriam: “As a member of the IALD for over 21 years, we are thankful for the time we were able to spend with her. That her life was cut short too soon is tragedy for her family and friends, and a great loss for all who are members of the lighting community. Her dynamism, care, and commitment will be sorely missed by many.”
Cynthia began her education at Michigan State University but put it on hold to have a family. She finished her degree in San Diego and started off as a sales representative at a lighting showroom. She said in an interview in 2011, “The artistic side of lighting really speaks to me more than the mathematical side, but I think it’s nice that we can support our designs by providing information. Understanding how much it changes our environment is what really affected me the most. It can change how we feel and perform.”
According to her website, the work of Burke Lighting Design was founded on a single goal: to innovate and create the perfect design solution without compromise. She specialized in art illumination, creating art with light and creating environments with “palettes” of illumination. Her aim was to expand and enrich lives through illumination.
As a polio pioneer in Kindergarten, Cynthia participated in the first national tests of a polio vaccine. In her final years, she was an architectural tour guide at the Salk Institute in La Jolla. She found a quote from the institute’s architect Louis Khan that resonated with her; “All material in nature, the mountains and the streams and the air and we, are made of Light which has been spent, and this crumpled mass called material casts a shadow, and the shadow belongs to Light.”
Our community extends its condolences to Cynthia’s family and shares in their grief at the loss of our beautiful colleague, mentor and friend.