Spotlight: An interview with Dean Skira - Award winning lighting designer
20.07.2014 / Lighting designers
Dean Skirra is a multiple international award-winning lighting designer who lives and works in Pula, Croatia. Among his many credits, Dean has won international product design awards for innovation, the best external luminaire and the most successful translation of a visual theme into light. Dean’s philosophy is to promote an architectural lighting design concept that goes beyond utilitarian, where lighting can have a high impact on a person’s emotional state. His works feature in well-renowned architectural and lighting design magazines.
This month, Dean is sharing his insights into the secrets of winning lighting design:
“Human interaction is crucial in every creative process. Today’s world and its newly developed challenges, in which we are all struggling in one way or the other, require many personal qualities other than strict professionalism in our line of work. Every project where the enthusiasm of all parties involved exists, and the ultimate goal is to create something beautiful, is a dream project regardless of its size. I especially admire people who work with passion because they are honest in what they do, which is always reflected in the final result.
I believe successful projects are based on good collaboration. I always emphasise the importance of integration in lighting design, which assumes a close cooperation with architects and interior designers from the very beginning of a project’s development. Fortunately, I often find myself in situations where the architect and I mutually inspire each other, which results in harmonious lighting and structural installations in the space.
Interior construction needs to closely consider the purpose of light becoming an integral part of that space, regardless of whether the light is turned on or not. The phrase integration with inspiration, which I use, applies not only for the building itself but naturally for the environment and cultural tradition, so the form of the light follows the form of an object while being unobtrusive to the viewer.
— Skira (@DeanSkira) July 24, 2014
The ability to move around different cultures is also very important. For me it means that lighting design is beyond utilitarian, as the deep thought of light is without boundaries. It flows and it should flow globally regardless of cultural difference or areas of application.
Technology has brought many new possibilities, which are mostly used for commercial purposes. Regardless of trends, every human has almost the same need for light. When talking about trends, it is maybe a question on the style of decorative fixtures, which are mostly used for residential purposes, where the client is choosing the form of the fixture – instead of the function of the fixture – according to their cultural or aesthetic levels. I honestly try to avoid being involved in the process of choosing decorative fixtures for decoration sake.
— Lux magazine (@Lux_magazine) June 4, 2014
LED light is a good example of a light source that offers the perfect combination of decoration and functionality. It has lower energy consumption than other lighting forms, which is increasingly popular as people want to achieve value for their money.
I often hear phrases like smart lighting controlled through smart phones, integration, sensor detections etc. This is not the most important part for users. The task of lighting designers is not about delivering current technology. It is to provide the quality of experience for users of the space. That should remain the focal point for every architect, lighting designer and manufacturer.
I have many examples of how architectural design, form and functionality can work beautifully with lighting design.
Where I live, in the city of Pula, it is known for its historic shipyard Uljanik. This became the location for my work Lighting Giants – an illuminated crane project that was originally conceived almost 15 years ago. The installation came to fruition with support of the local tourist board, sponsors and the industry as an attraction and celebration of this working shipyard. Every day, these metallic ‘monuments’ undertake their own gentle dance of steel, helping to create some of the greatest commercial ships ever built. This dance has been going on for almost 200 years and I wanted to create a colourful stage on which they could perform. Becoming key players in this theatre, among tonnes of raw steel, light and colour, we created a different role for those cranes and I’m very proud of this project.
At this year’s Frankfurt Light+Build exhibition, together with iGuzzini we presented Trick, the developed the new product installation which came from the desire to have a beam of light under control. I just wanted to have a continuous straight line of light so I drew the effect, and with iGuzzini, we developed the technological part of this lighting instrument. The design value doesn’t really come from the actual object that emits the light. It is the design of the form of light coming out of this object and the ability of that very small object to provide its very specific effect. The benefit of having this kind of lighting fixture is we can graphically create many different shapes in the space and we can create it with light. The main function of Trick is not to provide general lighting or provide mathematical requirements to illuminate the space, it is actually something you can play with, this is the main idea.”
Trick received last week the Delta Gold Award among 53 products for industrial design, from the ADI-FAD association of Catalonia and Spain.
Dean is the author of “My light” which was published by Arhitekst and Lupetti Editori di Comunicazione. In addition to working several projects in the Middle East, Russia, Slovenia, Italy and United Kingdom, he regularly lectures in universities and holds conferences throughout Europe and the USA.