3D: DARC DESIGNERS
STEPHANIE HARRIS NOMINATED BY NICK HOGGETT
Stephanie Harris is a lighting designer at UK-based practice dpa lighting consultants. While now happy in a career in lighting design, initially, Harris wanted to pursue a career in architecture before later heading down the interiors route. “While undertaking a week’s work experience at a local architect’s practice, I spent a day working with their interior designer, which me to my degree in Interior Design,” she tells darc. “Rather naively, I didn’t realise lighting design was an actual career option. It wasn’t until I started developing nearly every project idea around lighting and through guidance from tutors that I actually saw it as a career option. My dissertation subject explored the comparisons of artificial and natural lighting in both a modern and historical context in art galleries – this fully cemented my passion in lighting. “My philosophy towards lighting is that it should be intuitive and sustainable. In terms of inspiration this comes from many different places. For me, one of the biggest inspirations comes from nature and travelling, watching the sun rise at the top of Little Adams Peak in Sri Lanka was one of the most inspiring situations I have been in. “I also think it’s important to go to events, galleries, completed projects, read incessantly, keep up with technological developments and to always strive to learn more. “The degree of importance between decorative and architectural lighting can vary a great deal depending on the style of a project. More than ever, there is an importance of the combination of neutral small scale and visually inert architectural lighting equipment neatly integrated within the interior fabric – this can be offset in the form of large or small-scale decorative light fixtures that add presence and help to characterise the space. Architectural and decorative lighting play different roles in a room that go hand-in-hand to tell a story. “I believe that lighting creates a feeling of emotion in a space. It can control people’s behaviour and emotions – it is the soul of architecture and interior design. Light allows us to see, to know where we are and what is around us. Beyond exposing things to view and feel, light models those objects to enhance the visual and help us define the physical world.” In terms of her design style, for Harris, she feels while everyone has an internal palate that they work with - great designers avoid cut and paste designs and each project should be approach independently. “The broad range of projects we get involved in means that no two are the same; one day we can be working on a historical chapel, the next a sugar cube ultra-modern residential home. The same design style cannot easily be transferred from one project to the next.”
Lighting Hero I could name a number of key people in the lighting industry that I admire, however I would say my heroes are those around me that I work with on a daily basis. The creativity, passion and inspiration I get from my colleagues is second to none. The mixture of backgrounds, experiences and cultures means that I’ve a multitude of people to draw upon and learn from. If I could have worked on Waterlicht by Studio Roosegarde – the simple combination of LEDs and lenses created an ever-changing layer of light, which can be influenced by the wind and rain. While being a beautiful lighting installation it also provides a powerful message regarding climate change and rising water levels. Stand out project I have been working on the Langley for nearly the entire time I’ve been at dpa. It’s a grand country manor hotel sitting in a former royal hunting ground. Including a brand new underground state-of-the-art spa and fitness centre, dpa is responsible for the FOH lighting. While it is still ongoing, it is nearing completion and set to be one of the most talked about hotel openings in the UK this year. What makes me proud is that through this project, I can see I have grown and become more confident in my abilities. Moving forward With the developments in lighting technology continuing to grow, I see the evolution of how we do things changing. The fact anyone can control their lights via an app is a far cry from where we were when I first started my career. There is far more research being put into lighting and its technologies to fully understand the health and wellbeing, economic and social impacts it’s having. Working with light Is an ever-evolving and integral part of dayto-day life.