Caroline Vets is a Belgium-based lighling designer, who designs with an eye for detail and with respect for the existing architecture.
What made you choose a lighting design career?
During my interior architecture class, I could see, experience, and study the multiple aspects of lights. My classmates would be leaving class with a headache while I was inspired. Light can be poetic, supporting, evoking emotion, and playful. Light is something magical and shapes our experience; it has the power to change our perception of the world.
How did you plan the steps to get into the career you wanted? Or how did you make a transition to a new career?
I have more than 12 years of experience in developing lighting concepts for all kinds of applications. In the last 5 years, I have been developing lighting concepts for architectural outdoor lighting; it varies from façade lighting and integrated architectural lighting to developing a lighting master plan. That’s where my true passion is, creative freedom, creating social added value for the public environment, while being aware of the environmental impact.
Tell us about your lighting journey?
After studying interior design, I choose to study architectural lighting design in Stockholm. While the nights were long and all we had was artificial light. The low sunlight during the daylight hours made us experience the landscape in a different way. The warm light and long shadows made us think about those few hours of sunlight. It’s there where I started to learn from natural light and where my passion for lighting design started - getting the most out of these dark gloomy nights by creating meaningful places by night.
Studying in a multi-cultural class made me realize that the needs for light will vary. For example, while people living in the north prefer a warmer color temperature, people living in the south choose a colder color temperature.
Did you have a (male or female) role model when starting in the lighting industry?
Many people have inspired me during my education and career, specifically their way of perceiving light; it made me a better lighting designer. Cindy Limauro and Koert Vermeulen, for their varied approach tp the topic of light, Vellachi Ganesan, for her poetic approach to lighting design, and Sabine De Schutter, for her dedication to her own lighting company.
Describe three of your outstanding projects?
1. Indigo, Brussels, Belgium
Due to the monumental lighting concept of the façade on the ‘Rogierplein’ and the more intimate lighting concept on the façade of Rue Saint_Lazare, this lighting solution integrates nicely in the environment. The lighting concept respects the architectural value of the building and gives it a certain grandeur.
2. Royal Antwerp FC Stadium, Antwerp, Belgium
The stadium is equipped with the most innovative and intelligent LED lighting. From the parking garages to the changing rooms, through the grounds, and the VIP area. The LED system of the façades, controlled via the internet, transforms the Bosuil stadium into a landmark for Antwerp.
Caroline worked in close collaboration with Ghelamco to develop the lighting concept for the complete interior and façade lighting. The client specifically requested a collaboration with Caroline due to her clear communication and pragmatic approach.
How do you integrate light and lighting design into your projects?
It's our job as lighting designers to be aware of people's well being while surprising them - making them slow down and creating a unique sense of place, an identity for the environment by night.
What achievements are you most proud of and why?
I love to explore the lighting possibilities and pitch them. If I succeed in showing a customer the potential and added value of a lighting solution, it feels like a success. Seeing a lighting solution come to life after a long process of designing, mock-ups, and detailing also makes me proud.
What would be your dream project to light?
For me any project can be a challenge. A grey station square where I can start painting with light or creating a nighttime identity for a village center.
What skills are needed for your job? How did you acquire the skills?
Aside from the basic lighting technology, it all starts with seeing and understanding the light by using natural light as a source of inspiration. It takes time to learn, to see, and to grow as a lighting designer.
Do you think you have a signature as a lighting designer? If so, how would you describe it?
A client once described it as a very welcome female touch in a masculine world. I rather describe it as an eye for detail with respect for the existing architecture. I love to design with shadow and darkness, which is the starting point for a lighting design. Shadows can create a feeling of variety and life in the environment.
When you approach a new lighting design, where do you find inspiration?
I can be inspired by anything - the processing of light in a painting, the identity of a city, the low warm sunlight character of the sun, or people dwelling the place. But for every project, I start with an investigation into history to immerse myself in the project or as an inspiration.
What are the main attributes you look for in a luminaire?
It’s a challenge for me to think in lighting solutions instead of products so a good lighting technology and connectivity are the most important aspects. Interact Landmark gives me the opportunity to choose the right light for the time of the day and to monitor my dynamic architectural lighting solution.
When you are specifying fixtures, how far is low power consumption a consideration for you?
It’s our job as lighting designers to consider the environmental impact with low power consumption, but also to avoid lighting pollution and to design lighting where needed. LED already has a very positive impact on CO2 emission, but dimming street lighting and architectural lighting solutions at night can also limit this emission. Interact landmark gives us the opportunity.
Can you tell us a bit about your use of Color Kinetics lighting solutions?
Color Kinetic products always give me the possibility to fulfill my creative ideas.
I’ve been looking forward to the job I’m doing today so I am especially grateful and happy about what I have achieved. One day, I would love to share my knowledge by teaching future lighting designers.
"There should be no difference between female or male lighting designers.
Jacques Brel said ‘Le talent, ça n’existe pas, le talent, c’est avoir l’envie de faire quelque chose.’ I believe that anyone can mainly learn something through hard work and studying." - Caroline Vets - Lighting Designer