July 2020

Christine Hope, MIES
Principal Lighting Designer
Focus Lighting

Q: How did you first get started in the lighting industry?
I absolutely fell in love with theater in high school, and quickly saw that my talents were in design rather than acting. I loved the world of the backstage … the energizing mix of chaos coupled with those quiet dark moments in the theater where magic would come to life. I went to Tisch at NYU to study lighting and set design, along with a minor in art history.

I had a good friend from Tisch, Jaie Bosse, who was working at Focus Lighting when I graduated in 2001, and after I worked in the downtown theater circuit for a while, she eventually convinced me to come in for an interview. I was unsure about leaving the theater world but realized my experiences in art and design created a good base for me to branch off into architectural lighting design. The point of view as a theatrical designer is about creating a series of compositions for an audience — telling a story with light and being able to translate that into a collaboration with an architect or interior designer was so satisfying.

I love doing hospitality work because there is still that thrill of the opening night that I’ve lived on for so long. I have been lucky at Focus to work on some amazing projects — the New Year’s Eve Times Square Ball, Tavern on the Green, the Ocean Wonders: Sharks! exhibit at the Coney Island Aquarium, and many others. I have loved being able to go back to these places and feel proud of the work we’ve accomplished.

In 2019, I was recognized by Lighting Design Magazine as part of the 40 Under 40 international class of lighting designers, which was such an honor and allowed me to meet so many creative and inspiring young designers. I have had the pleasure of working and collaborating with so many talented people over the years, and feel fortunate to be a part of this incredible community.

Q: How did you first get involved in the IESNYC?
As a young designer shifting gears from theater to architecture, I really took advantage of all the events and educational opportunities. It was great to meet other lighting professionals and learn about our industry through their experience. I even joined the IESNYC softball team for a couple years and made some great friends along the way. I love attending the Lumen Awards — it’s always so fun to catch up with colleagues, see everyone dressed up, and be able to celebrate the best work of the year. It is especially exciting the years when I have been a recipient of an award — my first Lumen was in 2005, as a junior designer on Semiramis Hotel, working alongside senior designer Mike Cummings. The project was a hotel in Greece by Karim Rashid and had all these wonderful details of backlit colored glass. It felt amazing to have our work be recognized by a group of people whom I held in such high regard. I have since taken home six more Lumen Awards for various standout projects over the years, and each and every time I get that call from Clara or Adrienne, it’s as exciting as the first.

Q: How do you see your role as member of the IESNYC?
Once I joined as a member, I was really excited about participating in and hosting my own events. I feel like now that I have some experience and insight to share, it’s time to contribute and help lift up the next generation of designers starting out. I have led a few tours of my work, given a few presentations, and served as judge for IES student events. This year, when I got a call from Clara, it was to sit on the panel of Lumen judges. What a great surprise! I looked forward to joining the team of other industry professionals to deliberate the merits of the submissions. It was incredible to see the vast array of projects that were submitted for consideration. Analyzing all of that great lighting happening all over the world was truly inspiring and so motivating. As designers, we must constantly strive to make sure that whatever we are helping to create is elevating the art of lighting design.

Q: In your opinion, what are the best assets of the IESNYC?
I love the sense of community and camaraderie that IESNYC fosters through the industry events. We really are a tight-knit group, and having the opportunity to reunite with old friends, meet new people, put a face to the person you’ve only ever spoken to via phone or email, and learn about our shared experiences with light is so wonderful. When I’m together with this group of extended colleagues, it feels like we all speak the language, and that is really special. It’s nice to feel the love from our community with this nomination after being isolated working from home for so long. I know we’ll all be back together soon!