Your Interview Gemma Alcalá Jurado
Introduce yourself (name, company, position, country) and tell us how you got into lighting design (including education/qualifications).
My name is Gemma Alcalá Jurado, and I am an Interior Designer from Barcelona. During my professional career, I have been able to design different type of spaces, from housing to scenography and stand design. I have always felt the willing to try new experiences in the field. Nevertheless, in each of those, I found a common factor: the lack of deep knowledge in Lighting Design.
That is the main reason why, in 2019, I decided to study the Architectural Lighting Design Master Programme at KTH university (Stockholm, Sweden). And such specialization has arrived to stay...
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?
As a result of my studies, and in combination with my previous experience, I feel fascinated by how colours and materials behave with different types of light sources, not to mention daylight. I would love to learn more about such phenomena. Also, searching for the right colour temperature and lighting distribution to highlight textures amuses me.
In addition, and thanks to my passion for theatre, I have developed an especial attraction to shadows, darkness and the dramatism that lighting, by itself, can evoke.
What project are you most proud of and why?
To date, it is an academic project based in the Architecture School of KTH university. We called it “Reversing hierarchies”. It was the result of the teamwork of 5 classmates, from 5 countries, in one-week workshop.
Our aim was to highlight “hidden” elements of the building at night-time and to change the interaction with the place. By doing so, we had to overcome our different cultural backgrounds in order to find the right colour filter, the right balance and contrast (bearing in mind the location and the environment we were based in). We all felt very pleased with the result.
To be able to share lighting perspectives with international classmates or colleagues makes any project very special. I am looking forward to working in such a multicultural and multidisciplinary project again!
What is the biggest challenge that you have overcome in your career?
Finding myself in the vicious circle of searching where to gain experience, when well experienced skills are commonly demanded. I have repeatedly been in this situation since I finished my Degree in 2016. To remain faithful in a context of few job opportunities is nothing but challenging. Nevertheless, this has made me even more adaptable and resourceful when looking for plans Bs. I am a window opener!
How does light inspire you?
I am now much more into the intangible aspects of light, such as shadows or reflections. They have something magical that activates your imaginary as soon as you perceive them. My Drawing professor used to tell their students, in a very encouraging way: “Your eyes need to be trained”. I have always considered myself an observant person, but, over the last year, I feel that my eyes “have been updated” to look for something else.
What is your message for other Women In Lighting?
One of my main hobbies for the last 7 years has been to participate in Castellers exhibitions (“human towers”). This activity, target as Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO, has a special motto: “If we fall, we get up”. It is always nice to remember.
In addition, I would suggest you to follow your intuition. It is something that works for me.
Last but not least, I would encourage professionals to be conscious about lighting pollution and other unfair situations, whether environmental or social, that our projects or working procedures might involve.
Gemma Alcalá Jurado
“If we fall, we get up”