LICHT KUNST LICHT 4 - LIGHTING DESIGN FOR ARCHITECTURE

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Since 2005, Licht Kunst Licht has published its built projects in the form of work reports. The newly published fourth volume continues this fine tradition by documenting the lighting consultancy office's high design quality and technological expertise in 17 selected projects. But this book also represents a very special milestone, as its release coincides with Licht Kunst Licht’s 25th anniversary.

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For further information, click the follwing link for a preview of selected pages and an option to order the book directly from the publisher: av edition

 

 

 The current book presents the following projects in detail:

 

STÄDELSCHES KUNSTINSTITUT UND STÄDTISCHE GALERIE
Frankfurt am Main

THYSSENKRUPP QUARTER
Essen

LWL-MUSEUM FÜR KUNST UND KULTUR
Münster

SAYN IRON WORKS FOUNDRY
Bendorf

AHRENSHOOP MUSEUM OF ART
Ahrenshoop

RICHARD-WAGNER-PLATZ
Leipzig

BOULEVARD BERLIN
Berlin

DRACHENFELSPLATEAU
Königswinter

DOMFORUM
Cologne

HOTEL & SPA ABADIA RETUERTA LEDOMAINE
Sardón de Duero, Spain

NEW GALLERY
Kassel

MUSEUM OF THE BAVARIAN KINGS
Hohenschwangau

BRESLAUER PLATZ SUBWAY STATION
Cologne

BADEN-WÜRTTEMBERG MINISTRY OF THE INTERIOR
Stuttgart

COLUMBARIUM LIEBFRAUENKIRCHE
Dortmund

UNIVERSITY BUILDINGS ON CAMPUS WESTEND
Frankfurt am Main

CONFERENCE CENTRE
Munich

 

 

To mark the occasion of the company’s 25th anniversary, Andrea Rayhrer spoke with Andreas Schulz about the early years a quarter century ago, the constants in the office’s work, as well as the changes and perspectives in the dialogue between architecture and lighting design.

 

ANDREA RAYHRER: How exactly did it all start and how did you find your way into lighting?

 

ANDREAS SCHULZ: Earning a degree as an electrical engineer yet having a fondness of architecture and the arts, I never felt quite at home in electrical engineering. At that time, there were no academic programs in Germany that offered a greater insight into lighting design. After my studies, I was offered a position at a lighting design office, and I quickly realized that this type of work gave me great satisfaction. Through my training as an electrician and my subsequent studies in electrical engineering, I had acquired the necessary know-how to implement technically competent lighting concepts. This proved to be a great advantage, because if you master the technical aspects, new design freedoms begin to emerge.
In order to fully exploit these freedoms, a great aesthetic input is required that I did not feel sufficient in at the time. This triggered the desire to collaborate with creative partners from the start. In 1991, I founded the office Licht Kunst Licht in Bonn and Berlin with two colleagues – an industrial designer and an architect.

 

ANDREA RAYHRER: The company’s name is an intriguing play on words that was rather unfamiliar at first. What is the story behind it?

 

ANDREAS SCHULZ: The explanation is much simpler than one might think. Our first design contracts were artificial lighting projects. With our firm name we wanted to express that we not only design electric lighting but that we are ambitiously crea- tive. We do not see ourselves as lighting artists, but we have high artistic aspirations. Therefore, we felt the word “Kunst” (art) should form part of our brand. This evolved into the pun Licht Kunst Licht, which also relates to our logo, where the word Kunstlicht (artificial light) forms a ring. To be perfectly honest, at first, the name took a little getting used to for us as well.

 

ANDREA RAYHRER: Meanwhile, the name has been established as a brand, and the office has participated in more than 700 domestic and international projects. How are the assignments allotted to each of the two office locations?

 

ANDREAS SCHULZ: Originally, the Berlin office was responsible for local and regional projects, while Bonn undertook both domestic and international  work. This has now changed, as Berlin has become more international with many Berlin based architects working  on projects  around the world. Also, the work structure is identical in both offices. In addition to architects, lighting designers, and lighting technicians, we also employ interior designers and electrical  engineers. One team is exclusively devoted to daylight. Furthermore, we have a department for industrial and luminaire design. Depending on a project’s requirements, we join colleagues from various disciplines and from both offices. However, there are also constellations that have become established and often work together on various projects.

 

ANDREA RAYHRER: From a three-member founding team to a company 26 employees strong: Are any colleagues from that time still part of the office today?

 

ANDREAS SCHULZ: Thomas Möritz has participated from the very beginning. Since then, we have jointly  experienced the ups and downs of the planning trade. Many designs that have made us known and renowned where penned by him. Through- out the years, we have developed a kind of symbiotic com- munication. Here, verbal and aesthetic intuition blend into an inspiring and productive mutuality. I hope that this particularly creative exchange and our close collaboration will continue to last for a long time.
There are of course other colleagues who have been working here for many years. Stephanie Grosse-Brockhoff, Edwin Smida and our office  manager Bahia Loutfi joined us in our second step, so-to-say, and have been with us for about 20 years.

 

ANDREA RAYHRER: When browsing this fourth volume of your work, the projects designed by Staab Architekten take up a large portion of the book.

 

ANDREAS  SCHULZ: Yes, Volker Staab and his team have been companions from the company’s inception. He designs architecture with great self-confidence and aesthetic certitude and often involves us in the early sketches. For the Ahrenshoop Museum of Art, for example, he presented an architectural design that is essentially a lighting design – knowing that he could count on us as a partner for the imple- mentation of the concept.

 

ANDREA RAYHRER: As the  “front man” of Licht Kunst Licht, you are very sought-after and constantly travelling. How do you succeed at managing both offices?

 

ANDREAS SCHULZ: We have no separate departments engaging in marketing, project acquisition, or fee proposals, as one might expect in an office of this size. I try to keep the organization flexible and efficient and tackle assignments with as little hierarchy and superstructure as possible. Obviously, this has the potential to create gaps – but a wilfully  piloted anarchy is sacred to me. I will much rather accept a small detour than create a rule for every new scenario.

 

ANDREA RAYHRER: Do you believe in the concept of creative chaos?

 

ANDREAS SCHULZ: Of course, our office is highly creative. Design-experience and unconventional approaches leading toward  innovations  are among the virtues I observe in our team. We enjoy tackling challenging tasks in a spirited manner. It is never boring in our office, that is important. Two other components of our efficiency are structure and diligence. They are imperative when implementing creative ideas in reality. I would even state that we are virtually Prussian in our approach, at times.

 

ANDREA RAYHRER: Do creative chaos and Prussian structure mesh well in the daily work routine or does it require a lot of mediation at the interface?

 

ANDREAS SCHULZ: As far as I am concerned, there is no conflict. I am a child of parents from Berlin and raisedin the Rhineland. Certainly, Prussian virtues formed part of my upbringing, but I soaked up an equal amount of Rhineland mentality. I probably carry both – the Rhineland lightness and Prussian precision – I just hope that the mixture is sufferable ... (smiling)

 

ANDREA RAYHRER: After graduation, you had the opportunity to learn from one of the lighting design pioneers. Did working at Hans T. von Malotki’s office influence your career?

 

ANDREAS SCHULZ: He certainly was one of the pioneers of architecturally and aesthetically ambitious lighting design. Considering that it used to be entirely unusual to involve a lighting designer, he ventured into architecture quite confidently. Strangely, Malotki was also an electrical engineer. This is notable because engineers are often assumed to have not had appropriate design training. Like many other successful lighting designers, Hans T. von Malotki has impressively proven that this does not have to be the case. I am thankful for the lessons learned at his office.
Stylistically speaking, it was the era of grand gestures: Ettore Sottsass and Memphis, Postmodernism, Hans Hollein and the Abteiberg Museum. It was all about making big statements. I observed this with great interest but never quite felt at home in these concepts. From an early stage I identified  with the non-decorative, more rational architecture-committed lighting design. Evidently, the time was ripe for this approach and until then, no one had claimed this territory. The courage to pursue stylistic innovations and good timing were two key success factors for our office.

 

ANDREA RAYHRER: Yet, Licht Kunst Licht does not only cater to rational, purely architectural lighting design. Your office has produced luminaire designs with an almost sculptural, or at the very least, object-like characters as well as media facades.

 

ANDREAS SCHULZ: Yes, that’s correct. We have developed luminaire designs and lighting solutions that have quite an assertive visual presence within a space. The question is always what the architecture needs. Furthermore, the diversity of projects that we work on has grown over the years. Presently, for instance, we design ambitious hospitality  projects, such as 6-star-plus resorts around the world. Apart from the lighting effect, they require luminaires that form design elements in their own right. Fur- thermore, we develop austere museum projects, where light is a subservient medium – both as daylight and electric light. And we work on large urban designs for entire city quarters. Much of this simply did not exist before – for example, me- dia facades; and working on a media facade entails making a strong design statement.

 

ANDREA RAYHRER: As a professor for Lighting  Design at the HAWK University for Applied Science and Arts in Hildesheim, you share your knowledge and experience with your students. What is the most important advice you can offer to the next generation of professionals?

 

ANDREAS SCHULZ: As the person in charge of all matters pertaining to design, I attach great importance to both the me- diation of fundamental tools of the trade and methods. Systematically developing a design, delving into the architecture, truly understanding it – all of this is crucial to me. Further- more, I provide the necessary practical experience and often use projects that we are currently working on in our office as examples.
My advice to the next generation ...? – Well, apart from cre- ative drive, profound technical competence is imperative to a lighting designer’s success, and control technology is playing an increasingly important part. Also, I would encourage every young professional to acquire sufficient experience as a team member in an established lighting design practice or the industry before venturing into self-employment.

 

ANDREA  RAYHRER: What fascinates you about the medium of light?

 

ANDREAS SCHULZ: Light offers an infinite wealth of possibilities. A dedicated lighting design actively configures archi- tecture and space. It underscores its intentions, atmospheres, and functions or – in the best of cases – enriches them. The financial cost is – compared to the total investment costs for architecture, landscape and urban design – rather low. With a relatively low budget, light can make a profound difference and greatly benefit the architecture. I am delighted every time we succeed at achieving a good overall result. In our series of books, we present projects from a variety of realms, ranging from museums to administration buildings. They all illustrate how integrative light can be, but also the enormous aesthetic power this medium unfolds.

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Im März dieses Jahres fand in London die Preisverleihung des Illumini Infinity Award statt. Das Programm würdigt kreatives Schaffen von Lichtplanern, und wir konnten gleich zwei Ehrungen entgegennehmen. Erneut wurde das Städel Museum (schneider + schumacher mit Kai-Otto) mit einer Auszeichnung „Winner Silver“ in der Kategorie Kultur-Bauten prämiert.