John Bullock Lighting Design
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Call Yourself a Lighting Designer?



Crivvins, but there�s been rowdy behaviour in the quad with those nasty boys from Lighting Design causing trouble with those nice Electrical Engineer chappies. And now the head has got involved and there�ll be detentions for sure.

It seems that Gardner, long-acknowledged to be the main bullyboy in the LD house has been at his name-calling again, and went so far as to call the M&E house lads �design-illiterate�! I mean - hang on one bally moment! That�s a bit below the belt, Gardy � and you know how much the truth can hurt!

But now we have a developing situation, as they describe it in the Foreign Office, between Gardner of LD house and Burton of M&E house that can only lead to satchels at 10 paces. Burton�s come back with that old engineers� riposte of lighting designers being �soft-skilled�. It�s not original � we�ve heard it all before. It smacks of spanners and lacks the elan of the designer. It�s no wonder that gentlefolk used to consider engineers as being beneath their class.

Still: it created a ponder in me, as I was working out the circuit loadings of a garden lighting scheme that�s been taking up my time. (note to any engineers reading this � that last sentence contains what we call a �subtext�) Just when did I consider myself to be a designer? After all, I�d got all my certificates by 1975, but when did the penny drop that I was no longer a number-crunching illumination engineer, but had actually passed over into the lighting land of milk and money? Hallelujah.

There�s an idea that an education in anything at all, provided that you get a bit of paper at the end of it, means that you are gifted and capable enough to get on with .... well, whatever it is that�s written on the certificate. But I beg to differ. A person who holds the Bartlett MSc in Lighting is not a lighting designer, they�re just a person who holds the Bartlett MSc in Lighting. The knowledge is wrapped up in equations and numerical relationships and codes of practice and light meters. But that�s not design.

The bit about being a designer only comes with a full and proper engagement with the world and all its problems, where you�re able to take all the stuff that you�ve learned and turn it into something greater than the contents of the textbooks that you�ve been studying. Maybe that�s the �soft-skilled� charge that Dave Burton has placed against us � the ability to take hard numbers and translate them into something that is of benefit to humankind.

So: call me �soft-skilled� if you like. I�ll take that as a compliment � and I�ll see you later in the promised land.

RIBA CPD in 2015

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John Bullock Lighting Design
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