Lighting Design Without the Discord

Ed Wenck | Aug 05, 2020

Conceptual Lighting 450Pete Romaniello wants everyone to understand just what the term “lighting designer” really means. “The only people who are truly ‘lighting designers’ are professional members of IALD, the International Association of Lighting Designers,” he explains. “If you’re not recognized by the IALD, you’re technically a ‘lighting consultant’ – think of it as the difference between an interior designer and an interior decorator.”

Romaniello’s been at the lighting design business for decades, beginning his career illuminating shows with a Broadway lighting designer before finding his way into architectural lighting design with his company Conceptual Lighting. “We're a small firm -- myself and an assistant up in New Hampshire. We do a mix of high-end residential and commercial projects. The high-end resi is about 60, 65% of our projects. The rest of it is churches, restaurants, some office spaces, lots of hospitality.” Romaniello – who’s taught for CEDIA before – is now volunteering his time and years of expertise to teach a class entitled “How to Work with Lighting Designers” at CEDIA’s upcoming Virtual Lighting Conference.

Distinctions notwithstanding, Romaniello understand what happens in the real world: “Whoever is putting symbols on a plan and specifying the fixtures -- they're the de facto lighting designer, no matter who it is.” It could be anyone on a site – including the technology integrator – and that can become a flash point, especially in a situation where subjectivity rules the day. “If you’re going to specify something, can you substantiate and defend your position? Can you explain why a specific light source or element needs to go into the ceiling at point A and not point B?”

As a lighting designer – in the narrowest sense of the word – there are things Romaniello simply does not do. “To follow the IALD’s rules for ethical practices, I don’t sell or supply products.” Nor does he automate scenes – that’s something he leaves to the technology integrator on the jobsite in most cases. However, “There may be different roles on different jobsites, different levels of comfort – and that’s what this class is all about: defining those roles and reducing that friction.”

How to Work with Lighting Designers

Presented by Pete Romaniello

With the ever-changing roles and blurred lines among tradespeople on projects, it’s increasingly important for everyone to respect their collaborative places.  There are projects where the lighting designer/consultant is involved in system design and programming and there are projects where A/V Integrators are doing the lighting design.  Sounds like a recipe for disaster!  And yet, that doesn’t have to be the case. It should actually be a perfect marriage of both skill sets as long as the end goal is making the client happy. We will discuss specific ways for all parties to integrate more seamlessly.

Register for CEDIA’s Virtual Lighting Conference here