LD+A Book Review, June 2015

Review by Fred Oberkircher


Concerning lighting educators, one truism seems to be consistent: Given any set of materials, each educator will differ in how they use and arrange the material. And this disagreement will extend across the entire range of materials that might be considered relevant to the discussion of lighting and lighting design. A central area of disagreement lies in the definitions of the terms “art” and “science.” More engineering-biased educators will opt for deeper coverage of technical information, drawing comfort from the math and physics of lighting. More design-biased educators will opt for deeper coverage of the more aesthetic aspects of the field. This book falls into the second of those two categories and clearly intends to be used as a textbook.

So, asks the author, Jason Livingston, how should one approach the teaching of lighting design to the next generation of lighting designers? Our first clue is that this Wiley published book is available as an electronic book. Increasingly, students expect their information in electronic form and it seems certain that this is the future of textbook publishing.

Concerning the actual material, Designing With Light begins with the assumption that the reader intends on being a lighting designer by discussing lighting design as a profession. This chapter sets the book apart in that the two major points of discussion relate to the lighting designer’s scope of practice and professional lighting design credentials. No mention is made of any other professions involved in lighting practice. We are now clear as to where on the lighting educational spectrum this book is to be found.

The second chapter provides the conceptual framework for architectural lighting design with a well-presented introduction to the lighting designer Richard Kelly and his lighting trilogy. Utilizing this reference perspective, several well-written case studies are provided at the conclusion of the chapter that bring the chapter’s concepts into focus for the reader.

Two additional chapters speak to the design-based value of this text. The first is the chapter entitled “Color in Light.” Immediately, the first element discussed is the concept of white light as actually colored light. This then leads into color temperature and color rendering. But this only covers a few pages. The weight of the chapter includes color stability, metamerism, apparent color, color constancy, colored light, colored light and vision, and color and meaning-all elements that would be especially valuable to the lighting designer. The other chapter is entitled “Documenting the Design,” and this chapter provides a detailed description of the various steps necessary to convert a lighting design into a set of construction documents. Multiple pages on reflected ceiling plans, drawing symbols, luminaire and lamp schedules, photometric charts and design details provide a complete example set for the reader. From a student perspective, this chapter provides everything necessary to identify and bid a project.

Designing With Light is both true to its lighting design target audience and provides the necessary information in a format that is easily read and beautifully imaged.


BUY IT…If you’re interested in one of the best lighting design texts.

DON’T BUY IT…If your interests are more engineering inclined.

One thought on “LD+A Book Review, June 2015

  1. […] This month’s issue of Lighting Design + Application (LD+A) has a review of Designing With Light by Fred Oberkircher.  He calls the book “beautifully imaged” and “one of the best lighting design texts.”  Read the full review. […]

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