Photo Credit: John Schnobrich
I recently attended a session of the Women in Lighting Global Gathering event titled “Lighting Design Under an Awareness of a New Collective and Collaborative World.” The discussion featured Pascal Chautard, director of design at Limari Lighting Design, and Monica Luz Lobo, founder and creative director at LD studio and current IALD President-elect. The pair highlighted the shift towards heightened collaboration that they have witnessed in the lighting design industry and the benefits that accompany this new approach.
Pascal began the discussion by voicing his beliefs about gender equality in the workplace, specifically in lighting design. He emphasized the importance of promoting women’s work and making it visible in order to combat the longstanding imbalance in opportunity between genders in the workplace. He referenced an activity that he participated in that helped him and his team think critically about these disparities. After discussing the challenges faced by men and women respectively in the workplace, the team asked themselves, “What are we doing to build this perspective?” By the end of the activity, they understood the importance of working together to combat the flawed work structure. Pascal continued, “We have to collaborate with all women and good-willed men to work against the system.”
With this understanding of communication and collaboration towards the goal of inclusivity and equality, Pascal and Monica began to talk about the new awareness that they have noticed in the lighting design industry. Pascal comments, “We share an understanding that working in collaboration brings daily joy.” He stated that he and his team are continually trying to improve their creative process, and that human relationships and communication have proved to be the most effective approach to creating good projects and working with happy customers. He urges others that “We have to practice this and set an example and then try to expand. It’s a win-win-win process. If we have good quality of collaboration, we will have good quality of creative process, and we will have good quality projects.” One example of how his team has practiced this is by encouraging everyone to forget about their ego and put smaller roles in the center of their meetings. He insists that this brings everyone into the process and contributes to team cohesivity.
Monica built on this sentiment and illuminated LD Studio’s redesigned creative process. After deep analysis and collaboration, the team is able to construct a strong concept, which leads to a strong lighting plan. She insists that, “defining the customer’s need is crucial.” One way that both Monica and Pascal have done this is by expanding their collaborative approach by including people in other professions on their projects, from psychologists to business consultants. Both directors feel as though bringing in an expert on a specific topic outside of the industry is extremely beneficial because both internal and external collaboration can then be achieved.
Monica commented that “words have power and build morale” within a team and on a project. She stresses the importance of having a happy team, and that achieving this begins internally. Monica says that her main goal was “to bring pleasure to everyone’s daily lives.” To do this, she has consciously made an effort to be a better listener: “Sometimes, you listen to react, you don’t listen to really understand.” Monica cites listening actively as being the most important factor in effective communication. Additionally, she is sure to be consistently transparent in the office. When each employee is able to listen to and share ideas, milestones, financials and scheduling details, they are more united. This clarity has proven to be very meaningful to employees.
The last portion of the discussion highlighted flexibility as another way to positively impact the workplace dynamic. Monica commented that since the pandemic, “we have earned this flexibility.” She thinks that being flexible builds trust among employees and leaders. Pascal agrees, saying that having a good life outside of work will help you be a good designer. He continues, “To be a good creative, you have to have time with family, good sleep, time with your hobbies.” This balance, he believes, is the key to creating powerful projects. Both Monica and Pascal try to incorporate these elements of equality, communication and flexibility in their leadership positions, which contributes to their team’s success and happiness.