Your Interview Rachel Thomson
Introduce yourself (name, company, position, country) and tell us how you got into lighting design (including education/qualifications).
My name is Rachel Thomson and I work as an Architectural Lighting Designer for WSP in Australia.
During my university years I studied both an undergrad and postgrad in Architecture. My journey in Lighting Design begun when I accepted a summer Internship with WSP in the Architectural Lighting Team. After a 3 month internship I had fallen in love with the art and creativity of Lighting Design and was offered a permanent position. 5 years later and I am still enjoying every minute of it!
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 most passionate about creating a design with a story, relating architecture and lighting design within the wonders of the built environment. Creating a design with lighting that will not only compliment the space and enhance architectural features but also create an exquisite experience for all those entering the space. Working outside the box and implementing designs that challenge the norm and suggest bold playfulness is the focus for myself moving forward as a professional lighting designer.
What project are you most proud of and why?
I am most proud of projects which improve the user experience for the inhabitants of the space. I have designed lighting in childcare centres which has boosted applications and filled spaces quickly as the environment was credited for being warm and inviting. I am proud of any project where the end client and users of the space are proud of the design themselves, and take pride in using such a space.
I am also proud of projects which introduce an element of bold playfulness and challenge the norm, breaking down industry expectations of the work produced by a Lighting Designer. I love to create a wow factor which enriches the experience of those moving through a space, enhancing its character and creating a sense of wonder.
I also love designing spaces which benefit the health, learning and well being of its occupants, such as hospital and educational projects.
What is the biggest challenge that you have overcome in your career?
The biggest challenge I face in my career is educating and developing an understanding of the value of my design discipline for my clients, industry professionals and the wider construction industry. Breaking the labels of being a designer who is ‘too expensive’ and ‘not required’.
Educating the industry of the benefits of good and thoughtful lighting design and why our design techniques are so beneficial and crucial is a big challenge for all Lighting Designer’s globally. Lighting is an art form which is all too often miss-understood and seen as unnecessary and the first to be stripped back in budget considerations. Many individuals do not see the worth in investing in a good Lighting Designer or Lighting Design for their projects.
How does light inspire you?
Lighting Design is not measurable, presenting endless possibilities and without boundaries. Lighting is limitless, its opportunities unfathomable and its benefits extraordinary. Lighting inspires me as a designer to use my abilities to create spaces which benefit people in ways they are not even aware of. Research into how lighting can benefit neonatal care inspires me to learn more, master the art and create designs when benefit and bring joy into human life.
What is your message for other Women In Lighting?
My message for other Women in Lighting is to be constantly learning, your knowledge is your strongest asset. Believe in yourself, do not let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. Design incredible spaces and show the industry what we can do.
Designer, Architect, Artist
“Believe in yourself, do not let anyone tell you that you can’t do it”