Your Interview Karen van Creveld
Introduce yourself (name, company, position, country) and tell us how you got into lighting design (including education/qualifications).
My name is Karen van Creveld and I’ve been an architectural lighting designer for more than twenty-five years. I grew up in South Africa but have been living in London for all my adult life. I am still intrigued by light and am currently undertaking a PhD at UCL, exploring the impact of light on our health and wellbeing, with particular interest in daylight.
Like many lighting designers, I was always drawn to both the visual arts and the sciences and only when I discovered the field of lighting design, did I recognise how these two spheres could merge so seamlessly. My first degree was a BA Hons in Fine Art and History of Art and whilst I loved the creative process, I came to appreciate the practical difficulties of working as an artist. So I gravitated towards the design world and after some time working in interior design, became increasingly enthralled with lighting, For me, light it is the most influential component of any environment, dictating how that space looks, feels and is used. I embarked on the renowned MSc in Light and Lighting programme at the Bartlett which proved to be life-changing, giving me the skills and confidence to pursue my career in lighting design. I was fortunate at the same time, to be offered a job with Lighting Design Partnership (LDP) one of the founders of the lighting design profession in the UK and a place where I met so many of my long-term mentors, colleagues and friends.
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 years at LDP I had the privilege of working on some magnificent and prestigious projects and still feel that there is nothing quite as exciting as lighting a large cathedral or significant historical monument. However, my decision to start a family meant that it was impractical at that time, to pursue my lighting design career in quite the same way. Therefore, in 2000, I established my own lighting design practice - Karen van Creveld Lighting Design - focussing on more manageable scale projects such as restaurants, exhibitions and high end residential schemes. Working as an independent lighting designer has allowed me greater flexibility to balance the different facets of my life and to collaborate with other lighting designers on a wide range of exciting projects.
What project are you most proud of and why?
I’m most proud of all the projects where I took bold creative risks. A combination of genuine artistic vision, thorough technical knowledge, courage, integrity and determination are required to conceive and deliver lighting designs that surpass the ordinary, and thereby enrich our experience of the space.
What is the biggest challenge that you have overcome in your career?
Like many women, balancing my work life and my family life responsibilities has been the most challenging aspect of my career. The major benefit of working as an independent lighting designer is that I have been able to tailor my working methods and manage my workload in relation to other commitments. This has allowed me to maintain a sustainable and rewarding life-long career.
How does light inspire you?
I am inspired and uplifted by the beauty and majesty of natural daylight, every single day.
What is your message for other Women In Lighting?
Over the years I have found it vital to become actively involved with different professional lighting organisations. Not only is this a great opportunity to meet like-minded people, to share knowledge and support, but also importantly, a pragmatic way to communicate and promote women’s concerns, talents and status in our remarkable lighting community.
Karen van Creveld
“I am inspired and uplifted by the beauty and majesty of natural daylight every single day.”