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Q&A with Wanda Myburgh

We sat down with Senior Lighting Designer, Wanda and picked her brains on all things lighting. From how she got into the industry, and what she thinks the future holds, to her proudest achievement as a designer, Wanda gives us her thoughts.

1)    Why do you love light and how did you become interested in lighting design?

I love light because unlike other design media, it is something that you can not only see, but also feel. Differing colours of light and light temperature can be used to create atmosphere and ambiance that can, in turn, elicit emotions. I find it empowering that we as lighting designers get to play a role in evoking these emotions.

I love to work with different colour temperatures, my favourite being 3000K. It’s not too warm like 2700K, and it’s not cool and clinical like 4000K. It’s a comfortable middle ground, a neutral white that can be used in many different applications. It’s a temperature that often draws out feelings of security and intimacy, emotions that I look to inject into my design schemes.

I initially studied Interior Design at CPUT in Cape Town, South Africa, but after travelling to Dubai for a four-week internship with a lighting manufacturer in my final year, I was hooked. I discovered the endless and exciting possibilities presented by designing with light. I saw how lighting plays a massive part of everyday life in Dubai, and so I decided to refocus on lighting design and base myself here – the rest is history.

Wanda Interrogating Light Studio N Lighting Design Consultancy

2)    With a collective global awareness of sustainability issues becoming prevalent, how do you think the lighting industry should respond?

Sustainability in lighting is evolving tremendously, with LEDs now being the light source of choice. They massively save on power in comparison to older technologies such as filament and fluorescent light sources. LEDs convert 95% of their energy into light, with only 5% being wasted as heat. Meaning that they require less power than regular forms of lighting and as a result, have less of an impact on the environment.

But there is always more that we as an industry can do. We should be striving to increase our use of the environmentally friendly and sustainable options that are available to us on the market. We should consider a circular economy – re-using rather than disposing. We should be constantly educating clients and manufacturers on the benefits of sustainable options and encouraging them to follow these paths.

A lot of commercial buildings for instance, still commonly use fluorescent tube lights, which are extremely poor when it comes to conserving energy. They are harmful to the planet as they contain toxic chemicals and elements such as mercury. If they are simply thrown into landfill sites, these toxins can go on to contaminate the environment. To stop this from happening, specialist waste carriers need to be arranged to come and dispose of the tubes safely, which adds other factors, including the addition of fuel emissions, to their carbon footprint. One solution to this problem is that we as designers should be suggesting the use of LED lights instead. They conserve energy, they don’t contain hazardous materials and as a result are more environmentally friendly. They don’t require specialist disposal, so fewer emissions on the road are produced.

Not enough people are aware of the benefits of LEDs in comparison to fluorescent lighting and other older modes of lighting. We need to bring awareness to our clients. Whilst the impact of merely switching from one light fitting to another may not seem like it would have much of an effect in isolation – consider what a difference it would make if everybody switched to LED lighting!

I think the industry will continue to develop and look for further ways in which we can promote sustainability in lighting. I look forward to seeing the direction we take as we work towards a more responsible future.

3)    What project are you most proud of at Studio N? 

It is difficult to only choose one, but I love coming back from a holiday abroad and walking past the Jumeriah Group T3 Arrivals Lounge in DXB airport.

We designed the lighting scheme for the reception area and the lounge itself. Guests arrive at the reception desk and are greeted by striking ceiling coves that feature circular lines of light set against corresponding gold bands and draw the draw they eye upwards.

Once inside, the main lounge is a luxurious and elegant space. Another brightly lit cove frames a spectacular chandelier by Oggetti. We also used adjustable downlights, integrated joinery lighting and concealed linear detailing fitted under counters to add to the theatricality of the space.

This was a special one for me that turned out beautifully, we had a lot of fun designing it and whenever I pass this space, I never fail to get a sense of pride. I’m reminded of why I’m a lighting designer and why I love to bring life to a space by working creatively with light, by guiding and directing it to enhance surroundings.

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