Miguel Angel V. Calanchini was the project head for Site number 6: Happiness. I was delighted to walk with Miguel around the installations and have a very inspiring conversation during the Lights in Alingsas opening day.
Holds a Licentiate Degree in Architecture at La Salle and was first introduced to lighting while working as an interior architect. Miguel Angel started working as a lighting designer for Starco Iluminación in Mexico City in early 2000 where he attended seminars in Europe, he later worked as head of design for Gustavo Aviles. In 2003 founded his own studio in Guadalajara, México and later moved to San Miguel de Allende. Some of the projects: residential lighting design, landscape, public spaces, monuments, retail, museum among other types. Attended seminars and workshops in Germany, US, Italy, and México. An active lecturer and writer in Mexico about his design process and his vision of light and design. Became an Associate Member of IES in 2003 to later receive his professional member in 2012, in 2017 became an IALD Associate Member. Recently participating as a guest head of design in the International Workshop Lights in Alingsas. In 2009 he received an Award of Merit for his project Plaza Civica in San Miguel de Allende by the Illuminating Engineering Society. Most recently he has been the recipient of LIT Awards 2017 Professional Honorable Mention, 4th place Darc Awards 2017 – Spaces, 5th place Darc Awards 2017 – Structures, Top 100 Coda Awards 2016, 3rd place Darc Awards 2015 – Landscape, Judge for Construlita Lighting Awards 2018 edition and collaborated as one of the guest writers for Insights & Inspiration book for Expo Lighting America 2018.
What makes you passionate about your daily work?
Satisfaction. Light is a complex material to explain to people who are not knowledgeable about it. For that reason, you have to aim to the final results. Personally, I think that when you see the facial expressions of someone who gets what you are trying to express through metaphors, sketches, even with CGI software and who can materialize what you have ambitioned, it is the best payment and encouragement. After the completion of a project, either is a residential project when people need good lighting or just the right light on the right spot, or an outdoor public space project, it is very important to see how people experience the final space and observe how you have achieved the projects’ goal.
Can you describe Lights in Alingsas workshop week in 5 words?
EXHAUSTING, THRILLING, INTENSE, GRATIFYING, A CHALLENGE
You had a very multidisciplinary team in the workshop, would you like to share the secret for making this team work so well in 5 days?
It was a multidisciplinary team indeed, we had four people from the theatre, one architect and one architectural lighting designer on the team. In the end, it was a very interesting formula. For an intervention like “Lights in Alingsas” project, you must have a very organized and effective plan. The “theatre” people are very pragmatic in terms of optimizing processes while architectural lighting designers, we always tend to anticipate things for long time installations, in our case, I think it was the perfect balance for our team and it worked out as a big advantage.
What development would you like to see in the lighting design field in the next five years?
I would say “professionalization” in countries like Mexico, where Lighting Design is not considered yet as a profession. I would like to see the lighting design recognized as a profession by everyone in terms of responsibility and the value that we add in the projects.
What advice would you give to a passionate young designer who is starting now his career?
Never lose your curiosity! Always keep yourself hungry for knowledge and experimentation. Get away from computers! Get your hands into things and produce light, play with light, sketch and most importantly observe! Light is a phenomenon that it is hard to describe, once you start paying attention to what light does and what it can produce to spaces, you want to learn more, you want to convert the accidental things that you observe like the refraction from a window or any other light effect, and finally, you want to have the knowledge of how to reproduce those effects on your projects.