Lighting up people's lives

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 February, 2009, 12:00am

Requirements: Like all design careers, lighting design requires a creative mind - you need to want to be different. It is important look for inspiration from lighting wherever you go, so you need to be observant. Learning to negotiate with others is also essential, since light design involves compromises with clients and other team members.

Qualifications: There is no Bachelor's degree for lighting design in Hong Kong's tertiary education sector. Students can choose to go to Britain and the United States to study. People with an architecture or interior design education background are also suitable to work in the industry.

Average salary: The starting salary of a designer is around HK$10,000 and senior designers will make $30,000 to $40,000. Work prospects: After a designer has been assigned to a project, he or she will have to study the floor plan carefully. They will conduct site visits to get a real picture of what needs to be lit up, and have meetings with the client throughout the project to present design ideas and get feedback.

One challenge for lighting designers is that lighting is a very abstract thing. It cannot be presented using only words. Clients need to look at samples to see and feel for themselves the effects and the mood of the lighting.

Constant communication with clients is important and adjustments will have to be made for the duration of the project.

When the design is completed and approved by client, the lighting equipment has to be installed.

After installation, the lighting designer needs to make adjustments to the lights, test them and look out for any problems with the installation.

A designer often needs to work on a number of projects at the same time, so time management and proper planning is extremely important, identifying what is urgent and sorting it out first.

Lighting technology and products are ever-changing, and a lighting designer needs to be in contact with suppliers to get the latest information.

Long-term prospects For a person with no experience in lighting design, he or she will need two to three years to master the basics. Less experienced designers start on smaller projects like designing the lights for a store.

More experienced designers will be assigned to work on bigger projects like hotels or shopping malls.

A small number of designers start their own businesses, but other than managing other designers, there are few promotion opportunities beyond the position of lighting designer.

Where to apply: Lighting supplies companies and lighting design companies.