Nick Hoggett shares his hard-won
wisdom on navigating the global
market for architectural lighting design
WORDS: In conversation with Carl Gardner
PICTURES: As credited
Working overseas is our bread and butter. We are used to it – 90 per cent of our work is outside the UK, and a lot of it is in restaurants and hotels. I believe there are
real cultural and aesthetic considerations in different
countries that lighting designers must understand – all
too often a standard, international solution is rolled
out across the world.
Some lighting designers don’t respect local variety. The
problem is that international hotel groups encourage
uniformity of style. However, if you get close to the
client, you can bring in local variety.
Preparation for overseas projects is part of this process.
Research is important. If we get a new project in a city
we have not worked in before, we look around for a few
days at hotels, restaurants and galleries to get a flavour
of the culture… and the competition.
The lighting should always be part of a hotel’s or
restaurant’s personality. For example, hotel lighting
in Japan and Scandinavia is crisp and gorgeously
packaged, whereas in the Mediterranean you might
offer a simpler, more rustic style.
With one-off owners, you can be quirky and individual.
For example, we are working on a hotel in Nigeria that
will have Nigerian art as its main stylistic influence…
similarly the Hyatt Regency in Johannesburg also wanted
an African style, down to the customised fixtures.
In recent projects we have worked much harder on
the decorative elements of light fixtures, we have
tried to reduce the number of downlights providing
ambient lighting – and to make distinctive fixtures into
Recently, we have been working at the historic Waldorf
Astoria in Amsterdam, which comprises six canalside
town houses joined together. We have broken the rules;
for example, the lighting in the meeting rooms doesn’t
meet normal illumination standards, but the main
thing there was to respect the historic interiors. ▼