Your Interview Ligia Mariano Lanni Pavanello
Introduce yourself (name, company, position, country) and tell us how you got into lighting design (including education/qualifications).
My name is Ligia Lanni and I am an Architect and Lighting Designer at AES Engineering, in Vancouver, Canada. My background is in architecture and I have a Masters in Lighting and Interior Design. When I first discovered working with lighting, I realized I had found “my thing”. I found myself doing what I love to do. For almost 4 years, I worked with famous architects in Brazil on amazing projects – bringing illumination and life to their ideas. I moved to Canada in 2016 in search of new opportunities – both personal and professional.
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 am a minimalist. I like to understand the design concepts from the architects and the designers, so I can provide the lighting conceptualization to integrate with their design. Collaborating with the designers and understanding how all the materials, finishes, furniture, and details will work together makes a difference to help determine what kind of lighting you’re putting there.
Commercial projects already have an identity for the space. As a designer, I provide the luminaires that match that identity. What I like about commercial projects is the reach and impact my work can have on many different kinds of people who use the space. Every project is different, and the purpose of the space defines the design.
I really enjoy working on residential projects where there’s room for creativity. For a residence, there are so many lighting ideas that we can use to help the client enjoy their home. Lighting can change a mood and make a space an environment where you can relax or entertain. It can help set the scene for the little or big moments in our lives. As a lighting designer, I can give someone the ability to make their space what they want it to be in that moment and help make their house a beautiful home. There’s a privilege in lighting the spaces where people live. Most often, we are in our homes at night and we rely on artificial lighting everyday. It’s an important piece that affects our experiences at home.
What project are you most proud of and why?
I worked on a private residence with reputed architect Marcio Kogan. There were many challenges as it was such a detailed project and the owner had very specific demands. They wanted a minimalist approach, where you don’t see any lights — Illumination without seeing the actual luminaire. The luminaires were recessed and hidden among the design elements. We installed an 8-meter long pendant over an outdoor kitchen area for entertaining that provided both indirect and direct lighting for different uses. I’m proud of the success of this project and what I was able to learn working with Marcio Kogan’s team.
What is the biggest challenge that you have overcome in your career?
Moving to Canada without knowing anyone here or what to expect was a major challenge. We changed our lives completely and everything was so different than in Brazil. When I first moved, I worked in a pizzeria. It was tough work, but it motivated me to improve my English. I enrolled in English classes, watched TV shows and kept practicing. Learning English opened my mind. I initially had to take a step down to an internship level in order to enter the lighting design market in Canada but through networking and improving my language abilities, I have been able to establish my career. Coming to Canada was one of the best decisions I have made. The culture, and the people I’ve met, have made it a great experience. I was in my comfort zone in Brazil. While I’m so happy I made the decision to come to Canada, immigration is not easy and it’s not for everyone. I’ve sacrificed a lot of things and left my whole life behind. My family called us brave and courageous, but we made the best choice for our future family.
How does light inspire you?
When I am designing a project, I’ll ask my client ‘How do you want the lighting to feel?’
The answer sets the tone for the project. From there, there are many considerations. First, is there a standard code that should be followed? If yes, there will be a limit on the luminaires we can choose. If not, the sky is the limit on creativity. Finding the right luminaire for the project can take time and requires a lot of product information and research. That is why we, as lighting designers, can never stop learning and updating our knowledge. I take classes to keep my lighting skills up to date, especially for LED, which is constantly evolving. I also like to attend lighting fairs and events where I can share ideas with others in the industry. On every project, I’m inspired to ensure I’ve helped create a space that maximizes its intended impact. Whether it’s a place to relax or a place to work, lighting is a critical element for defining an area’s function. Anyone who thinks lighting design is easy, is very wrong. There are so many details that need to be coordinated with interior designers, contractors, electricians, and more.
The connection with the interior designer is the most important to ensure a project’s success. Working together on the details makes all the difference. The more information we can get from the ID on materials, colours, and layout the better we will understand the design intent. Sometimes it’s challenging if we don’t have this information and we’ll base our design on assumptions. When we’re done, we can spot mistakes that could have been avoided if we’d had the full picture from the beginning.
The magic is in the details and, as a very detailed person, one of the most important phases is to create the lighting scenes once the project is complete. When there is an integrated control system in the project, we can create different settings by changing the dimming levels from very cozy to very bright and functional. I love to see everything that I’ve visualized from the beginning of the project realized and seeing the client’s satisfied face.
As soon as I began my Masters in Lighting and started working with a reputable lighting designer from Italy, my career path changed. I knew that I could never go back. I’m deeply invested in the lighting design world and I’m grateful to have found my passion.
What is your message for other Women In Lighting?
It’s a privilege to be able to contribute to people’s well-being through thoughtful lighting design. Always remember that our job is to bring life to the architecture, play with perceptions, and create unique sensations and experiences.
Ligia Mariano Lanni Pavanello
“Always remember that our job is to bring life to the architecture, play with perceptions, and create unique sensations and experiences.”