July 2018

Nathalie Rozot, MIES, IALD Education Member

Q: How did you first get started in the lighting industry?
By happenstance, when I came to produce night renderings for l’Observatoire International as a side freelance job — back in the days of pastel on paper. I had received a university degree in biology and graduated from interior and product design school at Ecole Boulle in Paris and practiced for ten years in Paris and New York in architecture, exhibit design, urban and landscape architecture. Light was a perfect match for me - it was design and science and it was trans-scalar and transdisciplinary. I was home. I had senior design and management expertise and l’Observatoire was blooming in a burgeoning market, so I led several prestigious large-scale international projects while organizing the studio’s workflow and creating office-wide systems and standards. My academic career began in 2000 when JoAnne Lindsley invited me to teach at Parsons. Discovering light by means of drawing profoundly anchored my knowledge and my professional and academic practice in lighting design, and I used my experience to elaborate a pedagogy that connected light technology and physics, human factors, application techniques and digital rendering, which I called “From Vision to Representation.” I have also taught thesis studios and seminars for ten years at Parsons where I am now the most senior faculty, and for many years I taught intensive workshops in France with Roger Narboni, the founder of the French lighting design company Concepto, in two landscape architecture and urban planning masters programs in Versailles and Lille, but I barely teach anymore. I have always pursued an independent design research practice which I now carry under PhoScope, the nonprofit I founded in 2011. I have developed a lighting project that was implemented in Haiti’s informal settlements with cLSF over the past few years (Concepteurs Lumière Sans Frontières, a.k.a. Lighting Designers Without Borders) and that can be easily replicated in other parts of the world. I was just awarded a 2018 Lumen Citation for Humanitarian Action by the IESNYC, which shows that our community is embracing activist work as part of design practice.

Q: How did you first get involved in the IESNYC?
When she reinstated the MFA program, JoAnne Lindsley was instrumental in establishing a strong connection between the IES and Parsons, so I became aware of the IESNYC network and began attending events. I am also a bit of a “lecture junkie,” and Light Fair came to New York around the time I started working with light so since I was a newbie on a learning curve I picked a couple of talks. I remember them to this day - one was by Robert E. Levin on color rendering and photometry, and another by James Benya on the framework of energy regulations.
Over the years I enjoyed attending IESNYC lectures and other meetings, and I became an IESNYC member in 2012 after having founded PhoScope - a think tank on light. They are great opportunities to network with colleagues and to keep in touch with my many former students, most of whom have grown into young and established professionals. I also served as LD+A’s education columnist from 2012 through 2014 and it gave me an outlet to alert the lighting community about alarming trends in our education models.

Q: How do you see your role as member of the IESNYC?
My membership in the IESNYC gives me an opportunity to network with our community. I aspire to inspire positive change among my contemporaries and the younger generation in areas I am passionate about and to which I dedicate much of my work at PhoScope. One is social engagement. I feel we need to scale up humanitarian work and one of my current objectives is to sensitize our community to the right to light and lighting justice. I am hoping that our professional lighting networks can contribute time, expertise and sponsorship to helping populations affected by poverty and devastation. PhoScope just launched “Recreo de Noche” with Lighting In Action, which is a serial solar-powered lighting project for playgrounds in Puerto Rico. We are ideally positioned to provide support as a platform for training, advising, resources and coordination on new projects, and I am eager to work with volunteers and sponsors who are inspired to team-up and take action.

Q: In your opinion, what are the best assets of the IESNYC?
In my opinion, the best assets of professional organizations are the quality resources they can provide to members and extended audiences: these expand knowledge and support continued professional development in the field. The IES represents an outstanding knowledge base, from its committees’ work to research-related publications and communications. I also believe that a tremendous untapped potential of the IES at large and of its sections such as the IESNYC is to use their funds to support design, social and scholarly research. This is especially important for lighting because our young field has a great potential for critical study and social engagement beyond today’s conventional areas of professional practice.

Editor’s Note: Want to know more?