Nick Dankers is a Lighting Designer at Breda, The Netherlands-based Livingprojects, a company that designs, engineers, installs, and programs impactful lighting solutions.
2012 Started a degree program for Theater Lighting
2017 University of Applied Sciences for Light Design
2018 Studied Higher Lighting Expertise
2019 Joined Livingprojects as a Lighting Designer
Why did you become a lighting designer?
Light is not only a way to see things it’s also a way of communicating. I chose light because I want to make the world a better place where we can all enjoy communication through light. But I also enjoy working on a balance between dark and light, what light is necessary and what not, and where we want light and where we don’t. When we combine these, we are giving the next generation a chance to enjoy everything the world has to offer.
Can you tell us about your lighting journey?
I started as a lighting technician in theaters. In the theater, you start with a black box - really, you start with nothing, and you can make whatever you want with it. That was pretty cool. However, I wanted to work with light designs outside of the theater as well. The world was a black box, and I wanted to make something beautiful and amazing out of it. That’s why I love working on projects where I can start from scratch, with just an empty paper.
Before I started with lights, I worked a lot with sounds. But after a while I noticed that light interested me more.
Describe three of your outstanding projects.
Zalmhaventoren: I illuminated the tip of highest tower of the Benelux with this project. It was really great to work on paper and then see it come to life. It is a remarkable building in Rotterdam, and it gave me a real WOW feeling to work on it.
Zuylen: This project is a little bit less grand than the Zalmhaventoren, but that doesn’t change the fact that it looks great! Zuylen is a special project to me. It is a cemetery/ memorial site in Breda, the city where Livingprojects is located. I was asked to think of a temporary installment to remember the children who have left the world too soon on Worldwide Candle Lighting Day. I had free reign over the project. ‘Zuylen gives light’ takes places during the month of December. The lighting here has an incredibly special role, but in particular, a very beautiful role.
KWA Brug: this bridge is in Breda. I have walked, cycled or driven over it countless times. The bridge has become a remarkable object in the historical inner city thanks to the lighting. It brings it brings a better view, ambiance, and at the same time, it tells a story in an abstract way.
Tell us about the role light plays in Holland Venlo Casino, or other projects.
Without lighting, the tip of the Zalmhaventoren would be invisible in the mist. And that would be a shame, as the tip is what makes the tower block unique, as it is the highest residential building of the Benelux. We lighted the tip in such a way that it is visible but didn’t become a nuisance. It now radiates pride: "Look, we are the highest residential tower in the Benelux."
How do you integrate light and lighting design in your projects?
I like it when you don’t see any fixtures. I want to see light and not the fixtures. To me, that is the most important. And it shouldn’t look like a carnival, but you should use the light to communicate.
What advice would you give to those who aspire to follow in your footsteps?
Less is more. Develop who you are by doing. Another thing you should do is go out. Don’t stay at home behind your computer when working on a design. The digital world is fun, but it is good to go somewhere to see what it will bring. Do some location scouting and test if what you have thought of really works.
What achievements are you most proud of and why?
Every time I've come up with a lighting design and see it come to life, it's a moment of pride. At Livingprojects I can also work on high-profile landmarks. That's something I'm proud of. These are often projects people start talking about. It's great for me to know that I could contribute to that.
I’m also proud that I set some goals for myself last year and achieved them all. I think it’s sometimes the small thing that makes me the most proud.
What would be your dream lighting project?
Disney theme parks! Especially the outside experience. Here, the same rules are taken into account; you don’t see the lamps/fixtures, you only see the lights. And next to Disney theme parks, I would love working on a future Star Wars park.
How did you develop into becoming a designer?
After gaining experience in theaters, I started following an education in Light Design. Other than that, it is important to have the right people around you, go out to sites a lot, and see what is and what isn’t possible.
What I think is important as well, is to broaden my horizon and get a lot of inspiration outside of lighting design. For example, I sketch a lot in other areas as well, like cartoons and tattoos, and I like going somewhere with my camera. That brings me new inspiration every time, including for lighting design.
What is not yet possible in lighting architecture that you would like to see become a reality in the future?
Light sabers, and floating lights without cables or a chassis.
Do you think you have a signature as a lighting designer? If so, how would you describe it?
The way I sketch and present my projects. The projects that I work on are too diverse to really leave a signature behind. However, I think the way I present it to a client stands out.
When you approach a new lighting design, where do you find inspiration?
Lots of different ways, actually. Pinterest, sites of suppliers, movies, walking through the city, going somewhere on my VanMoof, and actually I can find inspiration everywhere around me.
What are the main attributes you look for in a luminaire?
A couple of things, such as that it is low in power, has an evenly beautiful light image (soft) and the right shades of white mixed with color as an addition (i.e., Color Kinetics IntelliHue).
When you are specifying fixtures, to what extent is low power consumption a consideration for you?
That is important as we use enough energy as it is now. I want to make beautiful things, but they should be energy efficient in accordance with my own values.
Can you tell us a bit about your use of Color Kinetics lighting solutions?
Color Kinetics IntelliHue technology has a high added value, especially in public areas. This gives you the opportunity to always create perfect white light and do something cool with colored light at selected moments to really make a statement.
I am also enthusiastic about the possibilities that Interact will offer. The collaboration between Color Kinetics and Interact is great. As a result, you not only have beautiful light, but also good control and programming.
In addition, Livingprojects as Signify Certified System Integrator gives us the opportunity to think about the development of the products in the portfolio. Our opinion is valued and that makes working together very pleasant.
Finally, the Color Kinetics products also give a kind of quality stamp to our work. Municipalities and the like are often enthusiastic about Color Kinetics products because they are part of Signify. This shows confidence.
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