Category: Interview

Klaus-Jürgen Maack: Light is the fourth dimension of architecture

Klaus-Jürgen Maack (1938-2019), former CEO of ERCO, presented an impressive speech for his product designer Alois Dworschak, who retired after having worked for ERCO for more than three decades.

Klaus-Jürgen Maack was born 1938 in Lüdenscheid. He studied as printing engineer in Stuttgart. From 1965 till 2003 he was managing director of ERCO. He introduced ERCO´s maxim “We sell light, not luminaries” and introduced a paradigm shift for the company. His book “ERCO Lichtfabrik” offers a comprehensive overview of his corporate design and product design approach. With his visionary management the company received numerous awards for graphic and product design. He was awarded with the “Bundespreis für Förderer des Designs”. Maack was also chairman of the board of the Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen.
Mr Maack started originally an apprenticeship as industrial management assistant in a printing press in Bremen and studied printing in Stuttgart. In 1963, he started to work at ERCO in Lüdenscheid. With leading product designers he introduced innovative luminaire programs. In the mid of the 1970s he initiated the collaboration with the graphic designer Otl Aicher for defining the corporated identity for ERCO as a basis for the visual communication. Projects like the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the Louvre in Paris or the Reichstag in Berlin are illuminated by ERCO.

Principles useful for thinking in light according to Klaus-Jürgen Maack:

  1. Light is “the fourth dimension” of architecture. Light interprets spaces, makes them perceptible, makes it possible to experience them.
  2. Light is invisible in the light path. Light is therefore a medium that is not visible, but makes visible.
  3. Light includes shadow, semi-darkness and contrast to make space or objects an experience.
  4. It takes many light sources to make a room appear dark, perhaps more than to make it uniformly bright.
  5. The quality of perception and the quality of vision are the result of good lighting.
  6. The prerequisite for good lighting is visual comfort, i.e. glare-free and reflection-free light.
  7. Light on vertical surfaces is usually more important for perception than light on horizontal surfaces.
  8. Seeing is the most important sense of perception before smelling, tasting, hearing and feeling.
  9. Ambient luminescence, focal glow and play of brilliants is the basic structuring for luminaire development as well as for lighting design.
  10. The luminaire is first and foremost a lighting instrument, a lighting tool for a specific application and not an aesthetic object.
  11. The respective luminaire fashion may be good for the respective fashion of room decoration, but it probably solves lighting problems more by chance – not consciously.
  12. Whoever illuminates a room must think in terms of light qualities and not in terms of beautiful forms.

Principles were published in the ERCO book “Lichtfabrik” in 1990.

Bettina Pelz: International Light Festivals

Bettina Pelz, curator for light festivals, explains the difference in light festivals within Europe and in a global context. She discusses the developments in cities like Sydney, Singapore, Lyon, Eindhoven, Berlin and Lüdenscheid. About Bettina Pelz: Focus of her exhibition practice is light as material and media in contemporary art, integrated design and digital media. Since 1999, and since 2001 partly in cooperation with Tom Groll, she developed various exhibition formats. She lives in the German Ruhr Region.

Interview topics

  • International Light Festivals
  • Digital Media and Light Technology
  • Work and Inspiration for Light Art
  • Light Festivals

Read more about the curator: Bettina Pelz

Luoxi Hao: Teaching lighting design and understanding illumination in China

Luoxi Hao is a leading expert in China. She worked on the masterplan for the Shanghai Expo 2010. Luoxi Hao is vice chairman of China Illuminating Engineering Society (CIES), as well as Shanghai Illuminating Engineering Society (SIES). She is director of architectural physics branch, Architectural Society of China. She leads the China Illuminating Engineering Journal as Vice Editor-in-chief.

  • Lighting in Asia versus Europe
  • The big lighting projects
  • Media facades
  • Future of lighting education
  • Introduction to Vision and Perceptions
  • Traditional lighting in China
  • Sustainability and Lighting

The legendary William M. C. Lam shares his view of the lighting design history and his design approach

William M.C. Lam (1924-2012) was president of the lighting design office Lam Partners Inc. in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He received his Bacholor of Architecture degree from MIT in 1949. He has taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and MIT and served as a lighting design consultant on more than 1500 projects. His numerous articles have been used as lighting texts in schools of architecture, design, and engineering all over the world. He is the author of the books “Perception and Lighting as Formgivers for Architecture” (McGraw-Hill, 1977) and “Sunlighting as Formgiver for Architecture” (Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1986) and published guidelines like “Approach to Design of the Luminous Environment” (State University Construction Fund, 1976). For “Architectural Record” he wrote articles like “Lighting for Architecture” (1963), “Lighting for Cities” (1965) and “North American office lighting over four decades” (1989). Some publication are available online at the website William M. C. Lam.


  • Richard Kelly
  • Communicating Lighting Concepts
  • Lighting Washington Metro
  • Lighting Streets
  • Lighting Restaurants
  • Decorative Lighting
  • Energy-efficient lighting
  • LED Lighting

The interview was done in 2007 in his home in Cambridge.

Howard Brandston: The American lighting designer shares his memories about lighting design pioneers

Howard Brandston (1935-2023) shares his memories about the lighting design pioneer Stanley McCandless. Stanley McCandless (1897-1967) received a degree in architecture from Harvard, taught at the Yale School of Drama and became a leading stage lighting designer. His book „A Method of Lighting the Stage” has laid a foundation for modern stage lighting. The McCandless Method has been used widely. McCandless founded his studio in 1933. Howard Brandston, an award-winning lighting designer, has realised many high-profile projects from the Statue of Liberty to the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, explains what he has learned from the innovative stage lighting designer.

Lighting Design Pioneers included in the interview

  • Seymour Evans
  • Abe Feder
  • John Flynn
  • Richard Kelly
  • Stanley Mc Candless
  • Edison Price
  • Bill Richardson
  • Lewis Smith

Seymour Evans

Seymour Evens was a genius salesman for lighting in New York in the 1950s and 1960s, explains Howard Brandston. Howard Brandston, an award-winning lighting designer, has realised many high-profile projects from the Statue of Liberty to the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, has worked at Seymour Evans.

Abe Feder

Abe Feder (1910-1997) was a theatrical lighting designer and did architectural lighting design. He was involved in the lighting of 300 Broadway shows like “My Fair Lady” and “Camelot”. Abe Feder illuminated several architecture projects like offices, banks and concert halls and universities as well. Major lighting project were for example the RCA Building in Rockefeller Center and the Prometheus Fountain or the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington. Joseph Wechsberg wrote in the The New Yorker about Abe Feder in 1960: „ Feder plays with light as a composer plays with sound.” Abe Feder was a founding member of the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) in 1969.

John Flynn

John Flynn was the conscious of good lighting, explains Howard Brandston. John E. Flynn (1930- ) is a co-author of “Architectural Lighting Graphics” (1962), a reference book for lighting design. Flynn and his research group have published influential papers on the psychological effects of lighting in the 1970s. He taught at Penn State University 1973-1980.

Richard Kelly and Edison Price

Richard Kelly (1910-1977) has been considered as a pioneer for architectural lighting. He founded Richard Kelly Lighting Design in 1950. His lighting projects include Kimball Museum of Fine Arts, the Yale Center at British Art and Studies and the Seagram Building. Edison Price Lighting has manufactured innovative lighting fixtures since 1952. Together they were a strong team for architectural lighting. Richard Kelly was a founding member of the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) in 1969.

Bill Richardson

Bill Richardson was famous for theatre and hotel lighting in the 1950s and 1960s.

Lewis Smith

Lewis Smith (1904-1987) had an incredible knowledge of historic restoration and lighting fixtures. He designed lighting for the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York and the National Episcopal Cathedral in Washington as well as for several hotels. Lewis Smith Architectural Lighting was founded 1939. Lewis Smith was a founding member of the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) in 1969.

In this interview Howard Brandston talks about the lucky moments in his architectural lighting design career. He looks back to his two mentors: Gustav Blum, a theater director and teacher and Leon Freund, an artist and a teacher.