Your Interview Ximena Cabezas
Introduce yourself (name, company, position, country) and tell us how you got into lighting design (including education/qualifications).
My name is Ximena Cabezas Arocena, I was born in Venezuela and I have lived in Barcelona, Spain, for 12 years. I currently work as a technician in the Iluminación Delta Light España project department.
I studied Interior design in Venezuela, during the senior year when I took the illumination course, I understood its importance to create and transform environments. So I realized It was just what I wanted to do.
I worked as an interior designer for a couple of years until my desire to further my education resurfaced. There was no lighting academic training in my country, so I decided to move to Spain to pursue it. Many people criticized me for giving up a successful professional career, but I was sure of my goal and left it all behind in order to achieve it. In 2011 I got a postgraduate course in Lighting Design, which started my great adventure in this world.
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 enjoy every project I work on. I have been lucky to have participated in all types of projects; housing, workspaces, retail, hotels, facades, temples, sports fields, and more; each one requires to be seen and treated in its own way. This variety is what I am passionate about and one of the things I enjoy the most. If I had to choose, I would lean toward projects in which the technique of lighting is applied to emphasize the history of a building or the message the client wants to transmit, such as temples or retail.
What project are you most proud of and why?
Every project is special for me because in the process of designing I visualize and involve myself in it.
I remember with pride the project done in a Mosque located in Madagascar. At the time I lacked some technical knowledge and I was not given much information to carry out the design. I researched the components and symbols of architecture that are significant to Islam, which allowed me to use lighting appropriately. I am very proud of the final results.
What is the biggest challenge that you have overcome in your career?
Lighting has a high percentage of technique and math. My career path had previously followed a more artistic nature; so studying, learning, and getting into the world of technical lighting was a fascinating challenge that has improved my skills.
Another challenge I overcame was starting from zero at a professional level in a different country with no one in my field who could lend me a hand. Although the country I moved to spoke the same language, I still had to adapt to different ethics and workflow.
Even though I came from a Latin-American country, I was used to the fact that if people had expertise in a certain area, they would be respected, and their opinions would be heard - no matter their gender. Facing this type of discrimination for the first time was shocking, and it will continue to be a challenge.
That is why I thank Women in Lighting, for allowing us to meet each other and contribute to the sorority of women who work for this industry.
How does light inspire you?
Light is inspiring to me in all its shapes and forms, watching a sunrise or sunset with all the tints of light and shade produced by the sun can make a moment extraordinary. And artificial light continuously motivates me because it is constantly evolving, therefore there is always something new to learn.
What is your message for other Women In Lighting?
Women are like light; magical, brilliant, powerful, capable of turning darkness into something beautiful. Take care of your light, shine, don't let anyone make you doubt about your strength, and let your light guides you to your dreams.
- Lighting Design. UPC, Barcelona - Spain
“Take care of your light, shine, don’t let anyone make you doubt about your strength, and let your light guides you to your dreams.”