Your Interview Elena Peñalta Catalán
Elena Peñalta Catalán
Introduce yourself (name, company, position, country) and tell us how you got into lighting design (including education/qualifications).
My name is Elena Peñalta and I work as a lighting designer for different companies in Madrid. I studied Architecture in Barcelona and, although I worked as an architect for a few years and I loved it, I wanted to become a specialist in something more specific to get to the detail.
In 2016 I enrolled in a Masters degree in Architectural Lighting Design in Madrid. The initial intention was working as an architect but paying attention to that matter, since this year I have only worked with light.
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?
I have worked for different companies and with each of them I have had the opportunity to work and learn about different areas. I like Retail because it allows me to work with great freedom and creativity and take some “risks” and try some products that have not a place in other kind of projects. From Hospitality I have learned to pay attention to the atmospheres: in hotels and restaurants it is very important to make people feel at home in public places. From workplace I have learned to pay attention to the technical part to achieve the best visual comfort because people spend many hours in these spaces and this affects their health and mood.
What project are you most proud of and why?
I am especially proud of a shopping center project because we took risks with the lighting concept and our intuitions were right. When I have visited it, I have seen many people using our lighting proposal to photograph themselves. I think the greatest achievement is to make people feel comfortable and enjoy the places.
What is the biggest challenge that you have overcome in your career?
It is a challenge to work exclusively in lighting design in Spain because it is still considered a non-essential extra. I hope this will change soon.
How does light inspire you?
Working with the immaterial requires a lot of thought. It is always a challenge to translate into plans and drawings the ideas to explain it to clients and also to make it work in its interaction with space, materials and people.
What is your message for other Women In Lighting?
Thank you for working and sharing to make it better every day.
“Thank you for sharing to make it better every day.”