Your Interview Juliana Pascoalini
Introduce yourself (name, company, position, country) and tell us how you got into lighting design (including education/qualifications).
My name is Juliana Pascoalini Gomes Fernandes, but for business purposes I use Juliana Pascoalini. I’m 36 years old and I’m Brazilian. I lived in Brazil until 2019, when me and my husband moved to Portugal.
Together we founded a company called Gris Lighting. Our purpose is to work on lighting projects offering a turn-key solution in which we develop the lighting project, buy and resell the specified products (no matter from how many suppliers) and deliver the best solution as only one complete delivery. On top of that we install the products and do the aiming of the fixtures and programming of DALI or DMX control systems as well.
My story in lighting started 13 years ago when I was 23 years old and was attending the Architecture and Urbanism university course.
At that time, I started an internship at Philips Lighting Brazil working on the LiAS department (Lighting Application Services). I was very lucky to work closely with brilliant minds and very generous people that taught me everything about the basis of lighting and all the technical foundation. From that moment on I was very passionate about lighting and decided to pursue this career.
I worked at Philips for almost 11 years and had the opportunity to work playing different roles, what was decisive to my formation on the lighting subjects. I’ve worked on LiAS developing all kinds of projects, from stores to offices, from industries to sports facilities, from roads to facades. It was an incredibly rich experience! After that I worked for four years leading a team responsible for technical support and relationship of the 30 main Brazilian lighting designers. Working side by side with them I had the opportunity to participate in some way of great projects such as Jardim Botânico de Curitiba, Ponte de Manaus, Palácio Campo das Princesas, Pelourinho and several others including many projects related to the Fifa World Cup 2014 and the Olympic Games 2016.
After that I realized that to work better with light would be important to have a good understanding of the client/user needs and I decided to work with sales and for two years I worked on sales of office and retail lighting projects. On my last experience I was invited to be responsible for the outdoor product’s portfolio as a product marketing manager working on decisions like price, margins, product portfolio, importation versus local production and so on.
After that great period, I decided to run my own practice and started the Gris Lighting business in Brazil. Some time later my husband and I decided to live in Portugal and we joined our knowledge (he works with lighting as well) to run Gris Lighting from Portugal.
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 currently work developing all kinds of projects, being commercial or residential. As my husband is specialized on lighting automation programming and our company has established a partnership with Signify working as a VAP – Value Added Partner, we normally work with commercial projects.
During my time at Philips, I had the opportunity to teach and give lectures to hundreds of people. I always thought that lighting could be explained on an easier and more accessible way, and for a long time dreamed about teaching about lighting. During the pandemic I had the opportunity to give a better thought on this idea and decided to implement it.
I am very proud to say that this project has grown a lot in a very short time, and I have taught about lighting for more than 1.000 people, have been invited to work as a columnist on a Brazilian lighting magazine and have been invited to give lectures on some highly reputed universities and art schools in Brasil such as PUC and EBAC.
What project are you most proud of and why?
Apart of the mentioned lighting projects that I had the opportunity to collaborate with, I’m especially proud of the educational project we are developing in Portugal reaching both Portuguese and Brazilian students. Being able to talk and teach about lighting is a big privilege as I have the possibility to positively impact many people.
The largest part of the content I share is free, nevertheless it ́s a very rich and solid content. My main communication channel with my audience is an Instagram account (@ju_pascoalini) where I share information on a daily basis. On top of that every Tuesday I give an online lighting class on YouTube. Sometimes I also provide a live content on Instagram talking to relevant people about lighting from different markets or points of view. I’ve already talked about landscape lighting, how lighting can influence on the kid ́s development, retail lighting, project management, heritage lighting and integrative lighting, among many others.
Lots of people have reached me during the short period of time I’m dedicating myself to it to say how this content has helped on their projects and, more than that, some of them told me they were feeling depressed during the pandemic and the content helped them to start studying or has incentivized them to pursue their objectives. This is my main reward, no doubt!
I also developed an online course to help those who want to know more about lighting. The course teaches from the lighting fundamentals to lighting project in a simple way helping architects and interior designers to improve the quality of their work and maybe start to think about specializing on lighting design.
I’m far from offering a graduation course, but I hope that these content can reach as many people as possible helping to improve the lighting projects quality and improving the lighting fixtures specification, that specially in Brazil is so shallow (among the Architects and Interior Designers not specialized in lighting).
What is the biggest challenge that you have overcome in your career?
I think one of the main challenges I overcame was to speak in public. I was a very shy child and never liked to expose myself or to be at the center of the attention. That went well until I started working and was obliged to talk to different people and later, to give speeches.
It started slowly with small presentations or speeches for 5-10 people and as my role on the company got bigger, so did the audience. It was a real torture to me, and my discomfort was not only with presential events, but also with online ones. But I decided I had to overcome the fear (more like panic).
I had already taken some courses about speaking in public, but nothing seemed to really help me. So, I decided to invest on the course of one of the most known and respected persons on this subject in Brazil. It was an expensive, intensive and uncomfortable training, but was exactly what I needed. After that things started to became easier and easier, every speech I was a little bit more comfortable and a little bit calmer.
Nowadays I give lectures for audiences of hundreds of people and, honestly, on online sessions I prefer to handle with audiences of hundreds than with audiences of just a few.
I can’t say it’s something natural to me but definitely was something I managed to overcome and no doubt it has helped me a lot on my career.
How does light inspire you?
The most inspirational thing about lighting for me is it’s power to shape human behavior and it’s huge influence on human ́s life. The relationship between light and health is a theme of big importance and interest to me and that’s the subject I like the most to study about.
Huge discoveries and advances have been accomplished recently and I’m really motivated to study and disseminate this knowledge that is so important, but not always taken into consideration specially by Architects and Interior Designers that develop residential lighting projects.
As they normally are not experts and don’t always have the full knowledge, unfortunately lighting is approached only from the “make things possible to see” point of view and not taking into consideration all it ́s power.
Thinking that my work can contribute not only with aesthetics, but also with health and well being is something extraordinary! And by teaching others this incredible and important relationship between light and health I really feel I can indirectly help many others. It’s something incredibly satisfying.
What is your message for other Women In Lighting?
We are quite lucky to work on a business that is very balanced in terms of gender, nevertheless the usual prejudice and difficulties are faced on a daily basis when talking to customers and suppliers of products and services.
Making ourselves heard is not always an easy job but everyday we wake up knowing that we ́ll have to fight another battle. Maybe because of that, being a respected professional brings so much pleasure and satisfaction. It ́s knowing that we overcame not only the usual business difficulties but also a super unbalanced society.
Being a Women in Lighting gives us space to take advantage of all our natural sensibility, and together with the technical knowledge and our studies about light and health, be able to shape incredible new business, projects and practices shaping a whole new lighting world.
“Being a Women in Lighting gives us space to take advantage of all our natural sensibility, and together with the technical knowledge and our studies about light and health, be able to shape incredible new business, projects and practices shaping a whole new lighting world.”