The first installment of the IALD’s new Designer x Designer series featured an interview with Alexandre Tougas, founder of Light Factor. He was interviewed by fellow lighting designer Jered Widmer. Hosted via Zoom, the one-on-one discussion covered a wide range of topics and allowed attendees to get to know Tougas and understand his passion for lighting design.
The session opened with a round of ice breaking questions, during which he mentioned his preference for white light over colored light, a topic that he would expound upon later in the interview. He also discussed his circuitous path to lighting design. In true Canadian fashion, his journey to lighting design involved hockey. Several of his hockey teammates in college were also involved in theater, which led to a job with Cirque du Soleil and to eventually founding Light Factor. His company takes “advantage of the theatrical lighting approach through architecture.” They “seek to illuminate, rather than simply add lighting to their various projects.”
He discussed the challenges of museum and exhibit lighting. Clients often have some vision in mind and certain specifications that must be met. Tougas and his colleagues must create a final product that meets those requirements, pleases the client, and ultimately, satisfies the goals of the project. This is no easy feat. He highlighted a recent project as an example – a display in a big room with white walls and with restriction on lux. The client wanted the exhibit to be brightly displayed. In this situation, you are fighting competing factors – balancing the foreground objects against luminance from the walls is very tough. Despite these challenges, he was able to create a satisfying final product.
As the interview went on, Tougas spoke about the difficulties of designing projects in our increasingly remote world. He touched on the emergence of LEDs and color-changing lights, which he feels are here to stay, despite not being a huge fan of them himself. He also emphasized the importance of finding projects he is passionate about and having fun in his work – advice he would give his younger self if he had the chance.
When asked about his dream project, Tougas said that he would love to look at classic works of art under different light. “Did they paint it under skylight, and we look at it under halogen? Did they paint it under candle light, and we look at it under natural light?” he wondered. Maybe one day he will get to create such a project. It would be fascinating.
You can view the full interview here. Don’t miss the next installment of Designer x Designer, which will be held on Thursday, February 24th. This time around, Tougas will be playing the role of interviewer and will be speaking with Selin Erginelli, Senior Lighting Designer at Lighting Workshop. You can register here.