Music for the Eyes – an Interview with Gerd Pfarré

by | Mar 25, 2022 | News

The third installment of the Designer x Designer featured Gerd Pfarré, FIALD and founder of Pfarré Lighting Design.  He discussed his journey into the field, his passion for light, and his approach to designing projects with interviewer Selin Ergineli.

Gerd has been in the field for over 30 years, but his enchantment with light started well before it became his livelihood.  He played drums in a band as a teenager.  He recalls being fascinated by the way the light danced off of his sparkling drum kit.  This formative experience stuck with him – even today, the way it interacts with and reflects off surfaces is something he appreciates most about working with light.  He explained, “What does the light do with the surface?  The reflection is actually what you experience.”  It is like “music for the eyes,” he said.

A self-described bad student, he gave up school and moved into the carpentry and cabinet-making business.  He joined Ingo Maurer’s team in the mid-80s, doing interior design work.  On one project, he couldn’t find an appropriate lighting fixture, so he designed one himself.  With Maurer as his mentor, he slowly transitioned into the world of lighting design.

In 1998, Gerd founded Pfarré Lighting Design in Munich.  The design studio is the recipient of over 130 national and international design awards.  The Palace of International Forums in Tashkent, Uzbekistan was a special project to him, and it was the recipient of multiple awards – for good reason.  Browsing the studio’s website, you can see the impressive array of projects they have completed.  From museums to residential spaces to convention centers, Gerd and his team have done it all.

In 2016, Gerd was named Lighting Designer of the Year, a well-deserved honor, given his impact on the lighting world over the past 30 years.  However, he was incredibly humble throughout the interview, and he strikes me as the type of person that is more comfortable working on a project than receiving recognition for it.

These are just a few snippets from the interview.  Gerd and Selin discussed much more during the 45-minute conversation, including his dream project and advice he would give his younger self.  The whole interview is worth watching.

The next interview in the series will take place on March 31.  This time around, Gerd will be interviewing Sarah Richter, Associate IALD.  Be sure to register for the event here.