Jeff Hoenig

April 2015

Jeff Hoenig
Associate, Cline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design
Co-Chair, Education Committee

Q: How did you first get started in the lighting industry?
I started in theatrical lighting. Early in my college years, I wanted to work on a show, so I talked to the technical director and he told me to come to the hang and focus. I said “Sure!”, then had to find a friend and ask “What’s a hang and focus?” They told me, I went, and I was hooked immediately. A faculty mentor I had while earning my MFA in Lighting Design from the Department of Theater at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign had moved into theater from architecture. He got me interested in architectural lighting and guided me through an independent study, which convinced me to apply for a couple of jobs when I graduated. I was much more successful in those applications and interviews than I was for theater gigs, so I figured “Hey, why not?” and took an offer from CBBLD, which turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Q: How did you first get involved in the IESNYC?
I’ve always been interested in teaching, and when one of the modules for the Fundamentals of Lighting class was open, I was asked to teach it. At the same time, I got involved on the fringes of the Control This! event. I was eventually asked to help run the Fundamentals class, which I’ve now been doing for four years, and my involvement with the IES took off from there.

Q: How do you see your role as a committee chair?
Since I work on the Education Committee, I like to look at the role from an educator’s point of view, and my work as a faculty member at the New York School of Interior Design has helped that immensely. Even though I only actually teach a very small portion of our programming (I mostly stick to teaching a module in Fundamentals of Lighting), I try to think about the planning of events from an educator’s standpoint—what venues are particularly suited to the topics being discussed? Who would be a good instructor based on both their experience and their communication style? We also try to make our monthly topics make sense not only as a larger part of the IESNYC calendar—such as coordinating a seminar topic to match a programming event happening the same month—but as an overall arc through the year to give members a chance to build on knowledge from one seminar to the next. For this in particular, I’m thankful to be able to lean on the experience of my co-chair, Dan Rogers, and my predecessor as co-chair, Meg Smith.

Q: In your opinion, what are the best assets of the IESNYC?
Absolutely our best asset is the membership. The NYC section draws from a pretty wide variety of roles in the lighting industry, from designers to manufacturers, contractors to engineers, everything in between, and each subset of the membership has a different viewpoint that helps everyone else understand their own role a little better. It also means that the knowledge base and experience we have to draw from is incredibly varied and useful. Most importantly, however, we have a membership filled with selfless, helpful leaders and members who have no problem whatsoever giving of their time and effort to help the entire lighting community. I find that last part to be particularly helpful for people who are new to the industry and trying to get their feet wet with an entirely new vocabulary. As someone who started a job as an architectural lighting designer with no architecture experience whatsoever, I can relate to that experience, and I’m always happy to see IESNYC members helping people in that situation get more comfortable with their new digs.