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DETAILS


Upcoming projects for Speirs + Major: Above Gardermoen Airport, Oslo, Norway. Artificial light is careful integrated into an extension and renovation of the existing terminal. Close control and integration with daylight manages the energy usage and ‘look’ of the lighting by day and by night. Far left Phoenix TV, Beijing, China. Use of light silhouettes express the strong lit form of the publicly accessible media HQ. Light in the inner courtyard expresses the brand colours of the TV station. Left Zhuhai Opera House, Guangdong Province, China. The external facade illumination connects to a PA broadcast of the performance inside.


already playing itself out on some projects. It was a great moment to realise that the solution lay entirely in the design process but at the same time we knew it would be a challenge to stay true to the vision.” So, in August 2010, the ‘Speirs and Major As- sociates, Lighting Architects’ brand identity that had served them so well for more than a decade was changed to ‘Speirs + Major, Designers working with light’ to more ac- curately reflect the skills of the team and the method of their work. Having histori- cally had more architects working for the practice, they found they were increasingly attracting people that didn’t have an archi- tectural background but were involved in theatre, art, 3D design, animation, graphic design or were just into light. The one thing they all had in common was a love of light rather than a love of architecture with a passing interest in light. They may not have been as technically gifted in drawing and professional responsibility (skills that were already well represented at the firm) but they were passionately committed to light- ing. Therefore three disciplines – architec- tural + environment, strategy + branding and product + innovation – were identified as the new approach to work in the practice


reflecting the skills of the personnel and the philosophy behind the work. “We wanted to push ourselves. We had won awards and completed huge projects like cathedrals, mosques and airports but where could we go next? Do we just continue doing the same types of projects or revisiting old ones? We realised we wanted to challenge ourselves to work in different markets, to broaden the idea that lighting designers could only work within the lighting indus- try.”


But was it an absolute necessity? Surely the practice could have carried on just doing the same thing - the award-winning projects - and no-one would have blamed them for that.


“The change in our process and thinking allowed us to address several issues. One was the portfolio but more fundamentally it was about what we needed in-house in terms of skills. The new skills we needed were focused on the needs of the three disciplines. We naturally found that skills and knowledge moved between the three areas of work: a lot of our strategic work has had a direct influence on our architec- tural work and that, in turn, has fed into our product design work. It’s very common


for a lighting designer to get involved with designing a lighting product but we’re much more interested in anything that light’s involved in, whether it is an environment, a material or a product that involves light in some way. When we talk to manufacturers about designing a product there is no Speirs + Major style, it’s about thinking through the key issues first before designing out- from-the-light source rather than in-from- the-housing.”


But of course, Speirs + Major don’t just do plain products that perform well. A starting point was collaborations with DW Windsor and Ruud Lighting, subsequently Cree, on radical street lighting solutions. Indeed, Cree’s Aeroblades will be officially launched at Light+Building in Frankfurt before making its US debut at Lightfair International in Las Vegas. Having already had experience in de- signing specials for their own projects, this was a natural progression into the world of commercial product design.


“In a difficult market and with Jonathan stepping down, it really accelerated our evolutionary process. Now, several years later, we are very happy with how the vision for change that myself, Mark and Jonathan had is making us a stronger design practice.


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