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Sara Pepitone | January 17, 2012
Still enjoying his firm's recent ICSC Design and Development Award (and preparing for a February 7, 2012, lecture and tour of the winning project for the Designers Lighting Forum Los Angeles), Randall Fisher, senior lighting designer for Candela, made time to speak with us about electric light, foot-candles, and the texture of clouds.
ID: What is it that led you into the light, as opposed to other areas of design?
RF: It goes all the way back to the TV show "This Old House." I started watching it in grade school.
ID: What about the show really resonated with you?
RF: I really connected with taking something old and transforming it into something new. It was my first look into the built environment even though I didn’t know it at that time. Watching the show got me interested in architecture. I’m still a fan.
ID: What projects are you working on currently?
RF: I am currently working on a wide range of projects including the new border station here in San Diego (San Ysidro Land Port of Entry) with Miller Hull, West Oaks Mall in Houston, Texas with Callison, and the Providence Alaska Medical Center - Generations Project with Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects to expand the pre- and post-natal services department in Anchorage.
ID: What is the project you’re most proud of?
RF: I am usually proudest of the project I completed most recently. Today, that's the Swedish Issaquah hospital and medical office building in Issaquah, Washington. The Candela lighting design team collaborated closely with Collins Woerman’s architectural and interior design team. All of our hard work and attention to details allowed the project to turn out as conceived, energy efficient and on budget.
ID: Do you prefer natural or artificial light?
RF: As a lighting professional, I hear the term “artificial” light frequently. Most people are really talking about electric light sources. It is hard to beat daylight when done properly. However, the sun sets every night and it still gets dark. The use of quality electric light sources can be more complicated than one might think. The professional lighting designer is constantly trying to keep up with the latest technologies. LEDs on the market today are completely different from ones even just a single year ago.
ID: Where is your favorite, best lit space, indoors or out?
RF: A sunset grazing across the top of fluffy clouds seen from an airplane window.
ID: What makes it "best lit"?
RF: The way the light glides over the surface, enhancing the texture of the clouds and creating wonderful colors in the shadows.
ID: Have you ever had to talk a customer down from too much bright light, or up from too much darkness?
RF: Quite often the lighting professional has to explain that “X” number of foot-candles is not what is the most important item in their space. Don’t worship the foot-candle! Foot-candles are a useful tool, but not the be-all end-all.
ID: What are foot-candles? A foot-candle is a measurement of illuminance, the amount of light striking a surface.
ID: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to get into lighting design?
RF: The best advice I can give to learn about lighting is to open your eyes and look around. You can learn a lot from both good design as well as poor design. A true lighting design expert understands both the art and science of not only light but also all other elements within the built environment and its impact on the people in the space.