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Memorial lecture explores interaction of light and dark

The first annual Jonathan Speirs Memorial Lecture took place in September, at the Glasgow City Chambers. Mark Major, fellow founder of the Speirs+Major practice gave the inaugural address.

Jonathan Speirs was an inspirational lighting designer, and the memorial lecture, established by the Society of Light and Lighting (SLL) and organised by SLL Scottish Regional Representative Tony Ownsworth, was set up to promote and continue his vision and passion.

The theme of the lecture was ‘Light + Dark = Architecture’, accurately suggesting that the creation and revelation of architecture is not just about light, but is also about darkness and somewhere in between.

Major suggests that quite often less can be more, and simpler can be better, when it comes to the world of lighting design. When you look at the most beautifully-lit projects, and the most awe-inspiring buildings, often the idea behind the lighting is quite simple.

Major highlighted Jonathan’s early years in lighting design, both at LDP where they both worked in Edinburgh in the mid-1980s, and the early years of Speirs + Major. With the use of images, and projects he illustrated the practice’s philosophy and approach.

When you look at the most beautifully-lit projects, and the most awe-inspiring buildings, often the idea behind the lighting is quite simple.

Mark Major

Major wanted to make the philosophy as clear and simple as possible - It’s about light, darkness, change, the passage of time, the movement of light, the connection between natural and artificial light, how that changes over time, often working in harmony.

There was also the inclusion of some of the project the practice has completed since Jonathan’s retirement in 2010. ‘Things change’, he said, ‘markets change, technology changes, people change and clients change, but I think Jonathan would be proud of what’s been achieved – for example, the ‘In lumine tuo’ project in Utrecht has won a Radiance Award from the IALD. I think the philosophy that we established all those years ago is still guiding us today’.

Major, together with fellow trustees have set up the Jonathan Speirs Scholarship Fund, which aims to offer support and encourage architects to make the transition to lighting design, in the same way both himself and Jonathan did.

www.jssf.org.uk