June 2018

Francesca Bettridge, LC, IALD, FIES
President and Principal
Cline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design

Q: How did you first get started in the lighting industry?
My start in lighting design happened because I was in the right place at the right time. I was attending and working for the Open Atelier of Design, led by Giuseppe (Beppe) Zambonini, a brilliant architect and educator, who was my mentor and very good friend. At the end of the term he invited Carroll Cline as one of the guest jurors. Carroll called me the next day and asked if I would like to work for him. Carroll was an architect and one of the great pioneers in the field of architectural lighting design. He had set up a private practice after 15 years in fixture design at Edison Price. At that time, it was a very small field, and Beppe convinced me that this was a wonderful opportunity for me. I was a single parent, needed a job, and the profession was young and open to women. At that time, it was very common that the only woman in an architect’s office was the receptionist at the front desk and it took many years before that changed. I started working for Carroll and it was just the two of us in the office, and shortly thereafter James (Jim) Nuckolls asked him to join a group of consultants that was being formed and Carroll asked me to come with him. This became a trial by fire. I had to be a skilled professional very quickly – no hand-holding, no leniency, and some harsh realities along with great possibilities. There were profound philosophical and practical differences in the way Jim viewed the practice, and in 1985 we parted ways with Jim and Stephen Bernstein, Carroll and I formed Cline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design. We literally threw out the old playbook and business models and started new – a collaborative and creative atmosphere that still exists to this day.

Q: How did you first get involved in the IESNYC?
Shortly after I began working with Carroll and Jim, I was told to become a member of the IESNYC and the IALD, and to get involved. I quickly joined the IESNYC Board of Managers and then was invited to be on the first panel of the Richard Kelly Grant Committee. This is where I first met Bill Warren – a mutual admiration society ever since then - and a very dapper gentleman, Sid Feltman. Years later, I received a Sid Feltman Lumen Award which meant a lot to me since I liked him so much. I also went to all the IALD meetings, at that time most of them were in the living room of Leslie Wheel’s townhouse. I was at the gathering where the first discussions took place about the roles of the IALD and the IES in the lighting convention that would become Lightfair. I also became the Secretary to the IALD, and Stephen still tells me that I usually got him to do the actual writing of the minutes. My intentions were good, but he probably is right.

Q: How do you see your role as member of the IESNYC?
I have tried to continue the tradition of encouraging young designers to join the IESNYC, and I really like the members that I have met over the years. I am extremely proud that I am a Fellow of the IES, although I do cringe every time at the Lumens they call out the members who have belonged to the IES for 20, 25, 30 etc. years – I would like to add that I started out as a teenager!

Q: In your opinion, what are the best assets of the IESNYC?
First, the members are a very valuable asset, the camaraderie and the history. There are also very good educational programs; I have had the opportunity to present and talk about our projects, be on a panel about how to enter the Lumens, and just recently join the discussion with Stephen Bernstein on the Lumens we have won over the years (and that is 43 of them at last count). I love the IESNYC Lumens and am so happy and grateful when CBB receives the award – especially since the juries are mostly members of the IES. The first Lumen I received was for the Residence in Llewellyn Park. It was presented—or rather handed—to me and Carroll standing in a conference room—and now it is a big gala with hundreds of people. Carroll was “my cupid” on that project. He sent me on the site visit with the project architect. We fell in love on that site visit, and I have been married to Anthony Cohn for 34 years.