Three California lighting designers made this year’s “40 Under 40” list of the most talented young people working in the field today. These rising stars were named as the result of a global search, which recognized 20 men and 20 women from 16 different countries at the Lighting Design Awards 2017. Faith Jewell, senior associate at HLB Lighting Design; Shu Jiang, senior designer at Auerbach Glasow; and Landon Roberts, senior associate at e2 lighting design, were celebrated as three of the most promising young professionals in lighting design.
Jewell was previously recognized by LD+A magazine as one of the next generation’s “luminaries.” In 2014, she “boomeranged” back to HLB’s San Francisco office, where she was promoted to senior associate last spring. She’s actually on her second career: “I was living in San Diego, working as a teacher and discovered online the lighting design program at Hochschule Wismar, in Northern Germany on the Baltic Sea coast. I decided to take a risk and got into the program, then moved overseas for graduate school. It was the best career move I have ever made,” she wrote in an email interview.
Jewell is an adjunct professor of lighting design at the California College of the Arts, and has presented at the IALD Enlightened conference, speaking on rendering. “Our ability to collaborate without physical boundaries is one of the main ways I see our industry changing for the better. With access to technologies like virtual meetings and video conferencing, we have access to clients and colleagues all over the world. This, to me, is an incredible opportunity to learn from and share our perspectives on light; not just with our own immediate local markets but with a global community of designers. I believe this new way of communicating enables this generation of lighting designers to develop creative and innovative solutions in a way that has never been done before.”
But for Jewell, “It’s all about the projects.” She credits the support of Barbara Horton, who has served as a role model and mentor, and looks forward to a career full of interesting projects and opportunities for innovative lighting design.
Jiang also graduated with a master’s in Architectural Lighting Design from Hochschule Wismar, after earning a bachelor’s in Architectural Engineering from Tianjin University. “My undergraduate was quite heavy on science and engineering, while I was craving hands-on experience in creative pursuits,” she wrote. “It turned out to be an exciting, challenging and rewarding 2 years that led to my first internship as an assistant lighting designer at Office for Visual Interaction (OVI) in New York City.”
Prior to joining Auerbach Glasow in 2016, Jiang spent 6 years at ERCO, a high-end specification lighting manufacturer, providing design and technical support to customers and gaining significant hands-on experience. Her work on more than 200 projects, plus marketing and education experience, furnished a great foundation for a future in lighting design.
At Auerbach Glasow she contributes to a wide array of projects. “I am grateful to be part of such a talented team, and to have a captain like Patricia Glasow,” Jiang wrote. Outside of work, Jiang serves the IES San Francisco Chapter, and was a guest juror for Parsons School of Design in 2015 and 2016. Peter Ngai (Acuity Brands) mentors Jiang through the IES Emerging Professionals program. He has encouraged her volunteerism. “I am excited to share my knowledge and expertise with other lighting professionals, also, to reach more people outside of the ‘lighting world,’ ” she wrote. She believes that lighting design can become a stronger profession if more people understand how much a lighting designer can contribute to a project.
Jiang looks forward to growing her skills and career project by project. The tech community in the Bay Area inspires her. “There will be a lot of changes to the industry, from how we work to how we live. I think lighting will become more personalized, which means more opportunities and also more challenges to lighting designers.”
Roberts came through Pennsylvania State University, earning the Bachelor of Architectural Engineering. “The lighting program was a great combination of my interests, encompassing artistic creativity and the technical aspects of engineering,” Roberts said. He was fascinated by the effect of lighting in architecture: “Lighting can transform an otherwise dull space into an area of interest or draw people through a space. It can enhance productivity or instantly set a mood.” LED technology was taking off just as Roberts graduated. “We were beginning to wrap our heads around this new technology and its possibilities.”
Roberts began his lighting design career at HLB’s office in Los Angeles, where he names Barbara Horton, and Teal Brogden – “really the whole team” – as mentors. At e2, “working under Erin [Erdman] has been just as influential. Lately I’ve been focusing on a mix of commercial, retail and high-end residential work – very interesting, gem-like projects,” he said. “We’re collaborating with some of the most talented architects, contractors and owners in the city to achieve a higher level of design and project execution, which makes the process incredibly fun.”
Roberts sees an expanding role, and growing demand, for professional lighting designers in meeting more stringent energy codes and in managing the expectations of clients. “Educating the client is becoming more the job of the lighting designer, particularly with LEDs and the technology of lighting controls. Dimming, color rendering, color tuning – we are still working on how to define LEDs and how they perform.”
He finds vitality in the LA scene and its cutting-edge design “flavor.” “Clients and architects in Los Angeles are more willing to take risks. They expect a higher level of innovation,” he said. “We have so much digital creativity at our fingertips, online and in social media, as inspiration for new, cutting-edge design concepts.”
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