Your Interview Aoi Honda
Introduce yourself (name, company, position, country) and tell us how you got into lighting design (including education/qualifications).
My name is Aoi Honda. I am an electrical equipment architect at Plantec Architects, Inc. From 2018 to 19, I was transferred to Uchihara Creative Lighting Design Inc. (UCLD) to learn lighting design through projects.
I became interested in lighting because of my part-time job when I was in university. I was a salesperson at an interior furnishings shop, and more than half of the products were lighting fixtures, which was quite unique in Japan. I started learning lighting because I thought I should know more about them to sell the products.
In the beginning, I was particularly interested in products and interior design, but after reading Akari Ishii’s book on the lighting of Notre Dame, my interest gradually shifted to architectural lighting design.
My major was architecture, especially facility planning. I chose it because I thought it was the closest way to learning lighting at my university. However, unfortunately, there weren’t professors who specialized in it there at the time.
I went to graduate school at another university and finally studied lighting in the environmental psychology department. My research theme was the effects of lighting on psychology.
I was interested in working at a lighting design company when I was looking for a job, but I wasn’t sure if I could design lighting myself. An older graduate of my university told me that the electrical equipment field also dealt with artificial light and daylight, and I thought it would be a better place for me to use what I had studied.
After graduation, I started my career at Plantec Architects Inc. as an electrical equipment architect.
Tell us about your work – is there a specific type of project you like to work on or an area you specialise in and why?
At Plantec, I mainly work on electrical equipment plannings for office buildings. When I joined the company, I told them that I was interested in lighting design, then they often assigned me to projects focused on designing.
At UCLD, I experienced on a variety of projects other than office buildings.
I hope to work on design processes from the initial planning with design architects. Even in my colleagues, very few people regard lighting design as an electrician’s job, so I would like to change that people's mindsets both inside and outside the company.
What project are you most proud of and why?
I was involved in a renovation project for a hotel once, and I enjoyed it. After the renovation, the atmosphere of the hotel changed entirely from the original. It was interesting. Although renovation projects have structural limits, we can create a different impression of the place under the condition, unlike newly built ones.
On hotel projects, clients tend to place importance on the high quality of interior and lighting design. I think it's because they need to impress themselves favorably to many of the guests by their space.
What is the biggest challenge that you have overcome in your career?
I tried to think of "the biggest" challenge, but I couldn't come up with none. I guess my critical point of challenges has been updated as I worked, so I may not feel it was the biggest one anymore, looking back.
When we make a lighting plan for buildings at my company, it is fundamental that electrical aspects be prioritized, rather than spatial design. There are strict standards to avoid electrical defects.
However, design is not about meeting standards. The priority of lighting design companies differs from that of architectural companies like us.
In that sense, the two years I was working at UCLD was probably the most challenging. When designing, I cared a lot about the details, and then it was hard to end it.
How does light inspire you?
Light is something I always care about, both good ones and bad.
When I see the light, I can't help thinking where it's coming from, which I know most people don't care about.
My favorites are Komorebi (filtered sunlight) and light with shadows.
What is your message for other Women In Lighting?
Through "Your Interviews," I learned that there are women involved in lighting from various perspectives, which made me feel reassured. I want to continue my job and do my best to create lighting environments that give others courage and inspiration. Let's make our industry more exciting together.
Interviewed by Lyshus; Translated by Akane H
“Light is something I always care about, both good ones and bad.”