Where do you draw inspiration?
Life. [laughs] One of the things I say is, “Have a life.” Years ago, I was interviewed for a newspaper, and talking about my IES involvement and teaching, and they said, “Oh, lighting is your life.” I said, “No! Do not print that; it’s not true.” It is a tired cliché in my mind. My wife, my family, my friends, a good rum and coke, playing Frisbee on the beach, Jimmy Buffet…that’s my life. That’s what I live for. I am passionate about lighting design, but I understand that it’s a means to support myself to have that life that I love.
I draw inspiration from life, because it’s important to get out, be aware of the surrounding world, and experience life. My client pays me, but my responsibility is to all the people who will engage with this space. We must relate to those people and their experiences to responsibly perform our job. Inspiration-wise, I talked about how we create personalities within a space, or look at what a space has to offer. Some spaces have very little to offer, quite honestly, but we try not to fall back on “safe design”; we look to everyday life for inspiration.
It’s lying in a hammock and seeing how sunlight filters through the leaves to form a pattern on the side of the hammock. It’s being in Downtown Chicago and seeing how shadows play off buildings. It’s being out on the beach and realizing that the glare is seriously wicked off the water. Inspiration comes from so many different things. Sometimes it just pops into my head, or certain things catch my eye. It’s hard to pin it down.