Women in Lighting

Your Interview Anna Zanni

Introduce yourself (name, company, position, country) and tell us how you got into lighting design (including education/qualifications).

My name is Anna Zanni I’m currently working as a senior designer at “Inverse lighting design” studio in London, UK.
Graduated in “Architecture for preservation and History and Preservation of the Architectural Assent” at IUAV University in Venice, I attend the 1st level in “Architecture” at IUAV University in Venice.
Member of the Italian Order of Architects from 2005 till 2015.

I worked as Architects for few years in Vicenza, my hometown, in different studios till 2010 when the economy crisis hits hard I lost my job.

After that few difficult months passed by till I had an interview with a local lighting agency which was distributor - North Italy – for Osram, Reggiani, Castaldi Lighting and Nortlight.
They were looking for an architects for their internal technical office.
I knew nothing about lighting till April 2011.
And after that every changed.
I was not happy when I was working as an architect without knowing why.
And this happened.
They taught me every single technical aspect of the lighting and I taught them a bit of design and the light can change a space.
So I spent the next 4 years working on international projects and local.
We designed the lighting layouts for the “United colours of Benetton” shops around the world.
We did a lot of retails – Brooks’s brothers, Marlboro, OVS and so on.
But was during the Italia Expo that I start feeling claustrophobic.
There were not possibility to grow, professionally, in that environment and there was not much freedom during the design process.
An agency was not enough anymore for me.

At 37 years old
May 2015
I decided to change completely my life.
I left everything job, family and friends.
I packed everything and left Vicenza for London.

One way ticket.
A job ready for me in a new studio.

So the 3rd of July 2015 I started to work in EQ2.
One of the toughest year of my life.
I’ve learn a lot – really a lot - but the way learned thigs were not the correct one.

One year later I started in Inverse Lighting Design studio and everything changed again but in a good way this time.

I was happy again and I start travelling again for work that is one of the most beautiful thing about my job.

What project are you most proud of and why? What is the biggest challenge that you have overcome in your career?

I’ve been in Shanghai few times for the “Galeries Lafayette Shanghai” project.
The biggest challenge – this apply to most of Chinese projects I’ve worked on – is to be able to compromise without give up on the quality of the luminaires final selection that is never ever what you specified.

I found incredibly different South Korea from China for example.
I’ve worked on “JW Marriott Seoul” the same year of “Galeries Lafayette Shanghai”.
Korean people perfectly combine the Japanese attention to the details with the Chinese work dedications.
The final result – despite the many setbacks – was stunning. Especially the hotel entrance.
I think this is the project I’m most proud of.
Inverse proposed this project for the lighting design awards 2019 but unfortunately was not shortlisted.

The most challenge one was – I think – the “Mama Shelter London” hotel/restaurant.
It was the first time – in Inverse – that I was working on a local project.
The design itself was pretty fast and really really fun.
On the other hand I discovered first-hand what it’s like to work on a project in the city where you live/work.
The time spent on site was enormous and always really stressful.
But again hard work pays off and the project was also shortlisted for the Darc Awards in 2019.

How does light inspire you?

Every time someone ask me why lighting? Why not keep working as architect after all the years spent at the university I always think about all the “pieces of paper” that Ingo Maurer used for the “Zettel”. Especially one:
“stay curios”
Light allows me to stay curious. To be curious. To make other people curious.

What is your message for other Women In Lighting?

I’m almost 43.
I changed everything in my life when I was 37. It’s never too late.
Take a risk.
Take a chance.
Make change.
Make mistakes, fall and get up.
Over and over again.

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Mentor

Anna Zanni

Designer, Architect
UK
Lives in:
London, UK
Born in:
Vicenza, Italy
Qualifications:
Senior Lighting Designer
Started working with light in:
2011
Offices worked at:
Techne (IT) and EQ2 (London,UK)
Now works at:
Inverse Lighting Design (London,UK)
Loves:
Live music, kinder maxi and reading. Obsess with insta photos.

“I’m almost 43.
I changed everything in my life when I was 37. It’s never too late.
Take a risk.
Take a chance.
Make change.
Make mistakes, fall and get up.
Over and over again.”

Selected portfolio:

Galeries Lafayette Shanghai 2018JW Marriott Seoul Lobby 2018Mama Shelter London 2019George Prime Steak House Munich 2020

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