Your Interview Uliana Vinogradova


Uliana Vinogradova

Introduce yourself (name, company, position, country) and tell us how you got into lighting design (including education/qualifications).

I’m Uliana Vinogradova, head of the lighting design department in INTILED. I’m a Bachelor of Industrial Design, but since I was child, I was passionate about making sketches of some strange luminaires and was keen on colored light. When I applied to the University, I didn’t know if a profession of a lighting designer even existed. To be honest, in 2000 in Saint Petersburg there was no place to study lighting at. After graduating, I started learning it all by myself – 3D and 2D programs, CAD software, simultaneously searching for a design-related job. Finally in 2010, I found this one dealing with light – and I understood: that’s it!

At first when I started, I was the only lighting designer in the company, now we are four in the department.

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?

My department and myself design architectural lighting for various types of projects. We successfully completed over 150 lighting projects, and the most interesting of them have always been the so called “difficult”, i.e. those with many constraints, unusual conditions or unique tasks. Working on such assignments taught me to employ my analytical skills and often unconventional approach to find an optimal solution. We also design for infrastructure and urban habitat, so far we have developed landscape lighting for a few Russian cities, one of the projects to be implemented this year. One more area of interest is installations and media art. We take part in various lighting festivals, in Russia and internationally, e.g. Light Nights in Gatchina (Russia), PROSVET in Perm (Russia), Lux Helsinki (Finland).

What project are you most proud of and why?

There is quite a number! One of them is lighting of the Helikon Opera in Moscow. This project was going on for 5 years. It is one of the oldest buildings in Moscow, and it was decided to preserve it. The new building was actually erected around the old one, so the old façade was refurbished and became the inner part of the opera building. Thus, working on the old façade we applied the principles of façade accent light in the interior. We also integrated light fittings in helicons – sound scattering devices mounted in the ceiling.

Another striking project is a television tower in Perm, the third highest TV tower in Russia. In addition to floodlights installed on support structures, I proposed using small spotlights for accent lighting of structural connections to create an effect of sending a signal to the air. When you work with a facility of this scale, it is extremely important to keep its structural integrity. You must also consider the mounting conditions, ease of operation and maintenance of the lighting fixtures. We performed lighting calculations and created a model of both the floodlights and accent lighting, verified the positions of the luminaires and chose the optics for the spotlights as we wanted them to be visible from a 2km-distance.

Our third project worth mentioning is Volgograd Bridge. The brief contained two mutually exclusive tasks: first, to save energy, and second, to illuminate the full length of the bridge evenly using dynamic lighting. Another constraint was the mounting of fittings as the only possible way was to install them on overhang brackets every 25 meters. We managed to successfully solve these tasks by cross-aiming the luminaires and applying time-effect adjusted dynamic scenario.

I mentioned but a few projects, and I am proud of having worked on every single one that requires a lot of skill, lighting knowledge, analytical abilities and is so rewarding to see the result.

What is the biggest challenge that you have overcome in your career?

The Lakhta Centre is one of the biggest projects, and undoubtedly the one of the biggest challenges. It is the highest skyscraper in Europe!

The lighting concept by the German consultancy Lichtvision presupposed lighting integrated into the building. As the buildings has a complex shape, we had to create three design types for the integrated light fixtures. The light source should not be visible on any floor from the inside, so we made a model of this unique optics to ensure that no light gets inside the room. Overall, it took more than three years and an uncountable number of visual presentations, videos and lighting plans, and it was all worth it.

The lighting of the Lakhta Centre is correlated to the lighting of the Zenit Arena (it is our project, too), they are located quite nearby and together can render either similar or complementing each other scenarios.

How does light inspire you?

Nothing would have existed without light. This is what I tell my son when he is afraid of darkness – that everything stays where it is, we just cannot see it. “Are you sure?” he asks. And his question outs me into deep in thought.

I am inspired with the nature of light, the way it shows its properties on different material, how light is re-reflected, how it deflects, resolves into components, and works with textures. I like the way a facility is changed using some light scenario or another. You may enhance or destroy with light creating a completely new level of perception. Fiat lux!

What is your message for other Women In Lighting?

It is very common to see women in lighting in Russia, more than a half of lighting designers, or even more, are women. So as a Woman in Lighting, I have never faced any problems.

Lives in:
Saint Petersburg
Born in:
Saint Petersburg
University of Energy and Technology, 2006, bachelor of industrial design
DIALux evo Training
Tartu Lighting design Workshop
and so on
Started working with light in:
Now works at:
architectural lighting design projects, more than 10 at a moment
Participant/speaker/visitor of international lighting events: Light&Building 2016, 2018; Luminale 2016; AmsterdamLightFestival 2015-16; InterLight Moscow 2013-17 all the years – speaker in 2016, 2017; ArchMoscow 2011-13;
TAVA workshop & light festival2016; Lighting Design Conference 2015-17 Saint-Petersburg; PLDC 2017 Paris; Light Gatchina Festival 2017 – participant; Light Gatchina Festival 2018 – participant, jury member; Metripolis: by Light 2018 Malmo.
Guest speaker/speaker at:
LIDs school Moscow, IFMO University Saint-Petersburg, National Research University Moscow.
I love to read, travel, dance (strip plastique, fusion) adore music, write oil paintings, ride a snowboard, bike, rollers, sew clothes. I love the architecture of the north and simply modern. I love to relax and hang out with my friends

“Lighting must be reasonable, passionate and involving. Nothing exists without light.”

Selected portfolio:

Helicon Opera // Moscow, RussiaBashkir Academic Drama Theater Mazhit Gafuri // Ufa, RussiaTV Tower // Perm, Russia

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