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Ampersand boutique hotel in South Kensington, Central London. GIA Equation’s scope of work included all common areas, lighting to the rooms, the Apero restaurant, patisserie lounge, gym, meeting rooms and building exterior. The project was completed at the end of 2012.

“It was always a pride thing,” explains former IALD president Kevin Theobald about his presidency. “I’d already been on the board of directors for four years and spent a year as president elect; so I already had an idea of the job. Though, I couldn’t have predicted quite how much time it was going to take out of my life.” Theobald spent two years as president of the International Association of Lighting Designers – an organisation set up in 1969 to help promote and advance independent lighting designers around the world. Balancing presidential tasks, his full time job as associate director at GIA Equation, and real life was a struggle: “I didn’t have a lot of real life,” he jokes. “Lots of late night phone calls, lots of conference calls after work. Lots of travel.” One of his main tasks was the association’s global expansion plan. The head office is in America but as an international organisation it’s important to serve members globally. “What they want to do in Australia or Japan or Europe might be different,” he explains. “So we’ve set up a regional chapter structure.” So far they’ve formally set up IALD Japan, Australia, Mexico and UK, Dubai and Greater China with IALD Europe on the way. These IALD regional groups run local events and interact with local organisations or government bodies, giving a localised voice to professionals in the area. The other big project Theobald oversaw, which is still ongoing, was the certified lighting designer programme. The IALD has spent the last four years working on creating a credentialing system for professional

lighting designers that defines the architectural lighting design profession by identifying core competencies and domains of practice. The programme aims to establish a validated method for assessing the competency of designers, raising the visibility and standing of the profession. Theobald says “there are various things that vaguely acknowledge lighting designers” out there; but nothing like this. “The idea is to have an international recognition, where people will submit a portfolio based on a number of set criteria that must be fulfilled to prove your competence.” Having something like this is really important, particularly to those lighting designers in the early stages of their careers. Theobald reckons his generation probably won’t bother because they’re already established. “But I think this will be very important to the new generation,” he adds. “The people in their 20s now, who really have to prove themselves.” Theobald has some friendly advice for future presidents: “You need to have a very understanding partner, a very understanding employer and very understanding clients. “I don’t want to put anyone off. That’s probably why they didn’t give me the whole truth. Everybody said it would be hard work, but you don’t realise quite how much time it’s going to take out of your life. I think I was crossing the Atlantic at least once a month. Not so good for the carbon footprint, I must say. I shall be planting a few trees!” So now it’s somebody else’s turn. Theobald is still on the board, with the new title of

‘immediate past president’ up until December, when he’ll roll off the board – unless he chooses to run for another position, that is. “That’s very unlikely,” he jokes. “I think I’ve done my time.” Now he’s concentrating back on the real work of being a lighting designer. There are lots of exciting things happening at GIA Equation. “I’ve got a great team here,” he says. “We’re working on the Russian Impressionism Museum in Moscow, which is a really interesting project. It’s an oligarch who owns his own collection, so he’s actually building a building to house all the paintings, which will be open to the public.” Theobald got started in lighting at the tender age of eleven doing fit-ups and getouts at the local theatre. “I think it was insidious,” he explains. “It gets into you. It’s fun. I met lots of nice people and the local theatre had a very good chief electrician, who was also a lighting designer; he mentored me.” When Theobald finished school it was a toss up between college or joining the theatre full time. “It’s interesting,” he says, “the discussion people have now about the academic way into the profession before you start learning about light. I started the other way around: I learnt about light first. I learnt what light did, then I learnt the academic side of it.” By seventeen or eighteen he was working at the theatre full time, which soon lead to him doing trade shows and working on temporary lighting schemes. From there moving into museum lighting seemed a natural progression. “My first architectural lighting

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mondo*arc Jun/Jul 2014 - Issue 79  

mondo*arc is the leading international magazine in architectural lighting design. Targeted specifically at the lighting specification market...

mondo*arc Jun/Jul 2014 - Issue 79  

mondo*arc is the leading international magazine in architectural lighting design. Targeted specifically at the lighting specification market...

Profile for mondiale