Your Interview Kristina Allison
Introduce yourself (name, company, position, country) and tell us how you got into lighting design (including education/qualifications).
My name is Kristina Allison and I am a senior lighting designer at Atkins in London and chair of the Society of Light and Lighting’s (SLL) education committee. I would usually say that I just fell into a career in lighting design however after so many years I can confidently say that I feel it was my destiny and not a random career path I have been following! Having just finished my masters degree in Furniture Design in 2007 and my undergraduate degree in 3-Dimentional Design before that, I was well on my way to beginning a career as an interior designer. However, I got a job working with a lighting designer who specialised in energy effective design - lighting had stolen my heart and I never looked back!
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 member of the specialist lighting team at Atkins, the core values of my lighting design ethos still remain intertwined with sustainability and energy-effective lighting design whatever the project type. It’s my philosophy and I try to embed that concept into design proposals as much as possible. Be that by proposing luminaires with greater efficiency or circular economy credentials. Circular economy seems to be a bit of a buzz word right now but to me – it’s just how I roll! So, whatever the project I take this approach and it adds a layer of substance that I relish.
What project are you most proud of and why?
The project I am about to describe may sound a bit dull, but to me it is one I won’t forget. I was working as an independent consultant for the Carbon Trust at the time and was appointed to do a survey and evaluation of the lighting at the Ford engine plant in Bridgend, Wales. They needed to obtain EU funding to remain in operation and a grant would be awarded if a case could be made that demonstrated energy savings. I put forward my report showing how a reduced OPEX could be achieved and the grant was awarded. The plant was saved!
A few years later I was watching the news and saw that, despite the hard work the team had done to try and save the manufacturing site, the plant was to shut down only a few years later. Bridgend is a small town, and a lot of local people worked at the plant. I do hope that they have been able to recover. I guess it was just the way the automobile industry was moving so it was inevitable but sad, nonetheless.
What is the biggest challenge that you have overcome in your career?
For a number of years, I ran my own independent lighting consultancy and although I seemed to sail through the economic recession of 2008, my specialism was coming to an end before I was ready to give it up. Energy efficiency in lighting was becoming the norm and although the greater objective seemed to have been achieved, I had to make the bold decision to give it up. Winding up my business wasn’t a decision I took lightly (no pun intended) but since then I have worked with some great people and have been introduced to new ways of working which in the digital era is perhaps for the best. I have no regrets and it was a big decision but the whole experience has been invaluable.
How does light inspire you?
I think I am generally just fascinated by light, in all ways and in every form. That could be how electricity is moved across miles and miles and then ends at a light point, or how daylight casts shadows. There are so many aspects to this intangible thing and I just can’t help how attractive I find it all.
What is your message for other Women In Lighting?
I have found that being a member of the SLL has given me the opportunity to learn so much about the subject through events and lectures. So, I would say just keep being curious, and exploring your interests in lighting whatever the aspect of it that interests you - keep learning!
“Just keep being curious, and exploring your interests in lighting whatever the aspect of it that interests you - keep learning!”