Light Fantastic: Teaching Introductory Lighting to Interior Designer Students

By Charles Gustina.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

How does one teach lighting to beginning design students? Numerous educators have written of the difficulty of teaching lighting. (Ray-Barreau, 1983; Theodorson, 2006; Cleveland, 2007) Light is considered an Element of Three-Dimensional Design, alongside line, plane, volume, mass, space, texture, color and time. (Stewart, 2008. p 180) Light is the only Element of Design (besides time) that does not have a physical boundary. It behaves more like water than like an item to be specified by a designer. Its properties and its interactions with other contents of an interior are very complex. Yet lighting texts skip over this basic information and begin with a description of how to achieve specific lighting effects or goals. (Karlen & Benya, 2004; Winchip, 2008) This paper describes a series of exercises incorporated into a first year college interior design studio, intended to familiarize students with light as an Element of Design. This approach helps students to understand how light behaves – how it interacts with objects and spaces in an interior. Understanding this behavior, they are better prepared to deal with the specifics of how light is produced and directed. The exercises also build students’ skill in rendering light in their drawings of interior spaces.

Keywords: Lighting Education, Interior Design Education, Elements of Design

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 5, pp.521-532. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.363MB).

Assoc. Prof. Charles Gustina

Assistant Professor, Department of Interior Design and Merchandising, College of Human Ecology, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC, USA

Charles F. Gustina, M.F.A., IDEC, IIDA is an assistant professor of interior design in the Department of Interior Design and Merchandising, East Carolina University. Professor Gustina earned a BA in Comparative Arts at Georgetown University, then studied Interior Design at Pratt Institute. He worked as a commercial designer in New York City throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, and taught interior design in the Continuing Education program at Parsons School of Design. He earned his MFA in Photography from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2005, where he taught as an adjunct instructor in both the interior and graphic design programs. Research interests include pedagogy of instruction and pedagogical techniques for enhancing creativity.


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