Your Interview Trea ten Kate
Introduce yourself (name, company, position, country) and tell us how you got into lighting (including education/qualifications).
When I was a little girl, I wrote stories and dreamed about becoming a writer or a journalist. It was either that or owning a pancake restaurant, that seemed like a good idea to me as well. But I never said: when I grow up, I want to be a journalist who is specialized in light. Still that’s exactly what I am today. I’m a freelance writer, journalist and communication consultant. In the summer of 2010 I was approached by Gerrit van Coeverden, the publisher of [inst]ALLICHT, an independent magazine for lighting professionals in The Netherlands. He asked if I was interested in writing an article about light. As a journalist, your most important tools are a sharp pen, unlimited curiosity and the ability to ask the right questions. With these tools a journalist can write about every topic. So an article about light shouldn’t be a problem. Or, as my childhood hero Pippi Longstocking said: “I have never done it, so I think I can do 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 write about all aspects of light: new products, techniques and developments. What I love the most is writing about lighting design in remarkable buildings with great architecture. Museums are my favorite subject.
What project are you most proud of and why?
The articles I wrote about museums and special architecture. Recently I wrote an article about the renewed and imposing museum of natural history Naturalis in Leiden. It is in the top 5 of natural history museums worldwide.
What is the biggest challenge that you have overcome in your career?
I quit my job after 18 years working as a communication consultant and copywriter for a large organization. That was incredibly exciting. It still is and it still often forces me out of my comfort zone, but it’s one of the best decisions of my life.
How does light inspire you?
It’s 10 years ago that I wrote my first article about light. I became intrigued by light and it became my niche. Light, in all its facets, continues to amaze me. I meet passionate entrepreneurs, inspiring architects, enthusiastic technicians, men as well as women. They all have one thing in common: light is their passion and they want to make the world more sustainable, safe and visible or simply more beautiful with light.
What is your message for other Women In Lighting?
In late 2019 I interviewed Juliette Nielsen and Christine Kühne-Setiowaty about Women in Lighting. I started my article with the following words: “About half of all light designers worldwide are women. Yet it is mainly men who speak at conferences, win awards, submit papers or write about light. The movement Women in Lighting wants to change this.” It triggered something inside me. So I went through my own articles and I started counting: In 10 years I wrote 135 articles for [inst]ALLICHT, I interviewed 170 lighting professionals: 134 men and 36 women.
I was raised by a strong and independent woman, I have two beautiful, smart and independent daughters and I run my own business. As the co-owner of Platform 9 I work hard to inspire (female) entrepreneurs on how to be more independent and successful in their own business. How is it possible that, for all these years, I have overlooked the lack of women in my own articles? So I promised myself that with every article I write, I first ask myself the following question: “Which female professional can I interview about this topic?” If I count again in 10 year’s, the score has to be 50/50, as a perfect representation of the men and women working in the inspiring world of lighting.
I call on the women in lighting to make steps by themselves: put yourself in the frontline, on the stage, in the spotlights and in front of me and every other journalist. If a journalist approaches you with an interview request, just say yes. Even if it makes you nervous. Even if that little voice in your head exclaims in amazement: why me? Even if, in all modesty, you want to push your colleague to the front. Because next time I want to interview you!
I also know that voice. It asked me: why do you have to show yourself on Women in Lighting? You write about light, but you are not a lighting professional. But I tried to ignore it. When I call on other women to show themselves, I can’t hide behind silly excuses. So here I am. A woman in lighting who can contribute to the visibility of women in lighting. Not because of designing the most fantastic light in a breathtaking building, but because of my pen, my endless curiosity and because of asking the right questions to the right person.
Trea ten Kate
“Light, in all its facets, continues to amaze me. I meet passionate entrepreneurs, inspiring architects, enthusiastic technicians, men as well as women. They all have one thing in common: light is their passion and they want to make the world more sustainable, safe and visible or simply more beautiful with light.”