Your Interview Bochra Mekni
Introduce yourself (name, company, position, country) and tell us how you got into lighting design (including education/qualifications).
I, Bochra Mekni, am Tunisian female engineer in Electronics, professionally active as a test engineer at VALEO in Stuttgart Area in Germany. Born to a distinguished artistic father, I have inherited a deep passion for aesthetics, an eye for symmetry and beauty as well as technical prowess in painting. My interest in art manifested itself since early age and I have started painting, sewing and designing already at the age of five.
Spontaneously, in early 2019, I developed a passion for light and its capacity to transform the visual and aesthetic value of buildings. Endowed with an advanced technical knowledge of light – acquired during engineering studies – I sought to deepen my knowledge of light from the design perspective. Hence, I have audited an online six-week course “Interior Lighting Design” taught by Debbie Blandford at the Chelsea College of Arts, before joining the Master Program in Architectural Lighting and Design Management in Wismar University in the fall of 2020.
My given name ‘Bochra’ in Arabic means literally ‘Good News’, and one of the best pieces of good news that I got, was the acceptance letter to join the Master program in Architectural Lighting Design at Wismar University. A dream on its way to become true!
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?
During my study course, I have had the chance to work with different projects: Heritage, modern houses, offices, etc. The type of projects that I am most passionate about is heritage lighting: It lies in the crossroads between art, majesty, and mystery. It’s really challenging and beyond rewarding to illuminate the dark sides of a building and thereby dramatically improve the aesthetic experience of it, without depriving it of its historical value as well as its enigmatic and mystifying side.
What project are you most proud of and why?
The project that I am most proud of is developing a lighting concept for the Church of St. Nicholas in Wismar. Since 2002, the church is on the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the old Hanseatic City. Designing a lighting concept was really challenging as we have been working within a very tight room for manoeuvre: we needed to significantly improve the aesthetic experience of the church while being extremely careful to preserve its historical value and without being allowed to make not even minor changes to the structure. The experience was particularly challenging but very rich and exceptionally rewarding at so many levels.
What is the biggest challenge that you have overcome in your career?
Despite a successful career as an Electronics/Test engineer in the Automotive industry spanning more than seven years, I am decided to make a shift in my career path and give way to my creative and artistic drives through becoming an Architectural lighting designer.
As a woman from a relatively conservative society tied to an Arabic heritage with strictly defined roles, and whose values are averse to risk; such a decision is significantly challenging and is met by considerable resistance. It is one of the hardest, yet one of the best decisions in my life.
How does light inspire you?
Light is a universe full of feelings. It enables our most sophisticated sense — vision, speaks to our deepest emotions, and changes our experience of anything it is directed to. It is life, as it brings life to anything it touches — especially if we know how to read it and speak to it.
What is your message for other Women In Lighting?
You are born to fly and never let anybody break your wings. You have light inside and around you, feel it internally, seek for it externally and you will find your way. In the words of the Tunisia prodigious poet AbulQacem Chebbi in his poem The anthem of the mighty:
Light is in my heart and between my wings ... so why would I be afraid to walk in the dark?
Masters in architectural Lighting and design management at Wismar University - Ongoing
““There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in.”