There really is no substitute for experience. This adage is the reason Professor Michael Siminovitch’s lighting design course at the University of California, Davis is such a valuable opportunity for students to learn about the lighting design process.
The course doubles as an annual competition in which students are tasked with designing, developing and producing a lighting fixture prototype. Students were prompted to utilize indirect light, and LEDvance, the competition’s sponsor for the second year in a row, gave the students Sylvania Smart+ LED strips to work with and incorporate into their designs.
This year’s winning design was created by Jennifer Place, a senior at the time of the competition who graduated in June with a double major in art history and design.
Intrigued by the strips' flexibility and inspired by their motion, Place created a moving luminaire to highlight these features.
Professor Siminovitch warned her about the difficulty of moving fixtures and the issues that often arise when creating them. But, “taken by the flexible nature of the Sylvania Smart+ LED strips,” Place couldn’t get the idea out of her head and knew she had to pursue the design.
“I absolutely had to see if it could work,” she said.
Ultimately, Place landed on a design that features nine identical, modular triangles, connected at their base corners. The modules rotate around these points, allowing the fixture to curl up like a caterpillar and create a nine-sided polygon, unfurl into a line of triangles and bend into a variety of shapes. A Smart+ LED strip is curled within the housing of each triangle.
“In the end, everyone was happy, if not, pleasantly surprised by the outcome,” Place said.
For winning the competition, LEDvance brought Place to Lightfair International in Chicago in May to display her work, learn about the lighting industry and talk with long-time lighting professionals. But, according to Omar A. Rivera, head of luminaires for U.S. and Canada at LEDvance, it was also an opportunity for the company to get Place’s perspective, “a fresh viewpoint,” on the industry.
“We love being a part of this design competition because these students are a part of the future of the lighting industry…The ideas, optics and product design process that these young designers develop helps us in the industry imagine the opportunities for advancing light,” Rivera said.
Place plans to gain experience working in a design field—perhaps wood working or industrial, interior or lighting design—before attending graduate school.