Wibeke Vandevelde-Pollé is a Netherlands-based lighting designer with a passion for working on interdisciplinary teams to create professional lighting projects that make the world a more beautiful place.
What made you choose a lighting design career?
As a teenager I already knew that artificial lighting is important. My father changed the lamp of the fixture of our bathroom above the mirror. I looked in the mirror and saw a grey face, but since I did not feel ill, I asked what had happened. We went to the store and asked the seller. He told us that it was the cheapest lamp and, therefore, provided poor color rendering. So, we changed it to an excellent color rendering tube, and I was happy again. We learned a lot about color rendering in artificial lighting that day.
How did you plan the steps to get into the career you wanted?
When I was a child, my ambition was to be an architect. Although I am not an architect, I studied Interior Architecture at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam. During my studies in applied art and architecture, I had to complete two internships. One was at an architecture office and the other was at Philips Lighting in Eindhoven in the lighting design department. This was back in 1995. A new professional world opened for me, and I loved it. It was a world focused on the importance of artificial lighting. After my internship at Philips Lighting, I earned my Bachelor of Arts in Interior Architecture with lighting design integrated in 1996. But I was not ready to work. I completed my Master of Arts in Design Research at the Design Academy in Eindhoven in 1998. When I was almost finished, I met two co-workers from Philips Lighting at a seminar and they told me about a job opportunity as a lighting designer in my internship department. Because they already knew my work ethic, I landed the job. Now 25 years later, I still love my job.
What is your motivation?
"I love to make the world more beautiful. I think the contribution of a lighting designer is important to color the world with well thought through lighting concepts. I can paint with light."
Can you tell us more about your latest Color Kinetics projects?
As a Senior Lighting Designer, I love challenges. Watertoren Bollenstreek, a formerly functional concrete water tower, was designed by the architect A.D. Heederik in 1925. He was one of the founders of the firm now known as Royal Haskoning DHV. The water tower has become a landmark and multi-purpose building in the ‘Bollenstreek’ where people meet and work. This landmark has a multi-layered lighting design. This inspirational design has been lit by energy-efficient LED lighting on the ribs to enhance the vertical lines of the structure and wider top floors. It looks like a beautiful flower near the flower fields in The Netherlands. The other floors feature lighting that shines from the inside out. The lighting technology used is Color Kinetics IntelliHue, which means different lighting scenarios can be chosen, like a beautiful warm white architectural statement or a flower theme with red at the top and green at the ribs. Respecting the history of the building, the lighting has uplifted the user experience.
Examples: Flinstering, Breda, and Watertoren Bollenstreek.
How important are interactivity and connectivity in your lighting projects?
As a lighting designer, it is very important to maximize the flexibility and potential of intelligent LED lighting to create great experiences for users that last for many years. That means the customer must invest in the beginning, but the payback period is not long. The sustainability, ease of use, and user experience are unforgettable.
How do you push boundaries with your lighting design?
I want to be part of the construction team as early as possible in the process. I want to speak with the customer, the architect, the interior architect, the builder, and so on. All interdiscplinary team members involved in the project should work together to get the greatest potential out of the experience.
I listen, ask questions, and cocreate. Then I think about different concepts and create an inspiration document, with lighting design concepts and effects to discuss. After this phase, I create an initial design. Most often, the changes in the architectural layout have an impact on the lighting design. I design in all phases of the project to achieve a great result for the client.
How do you use the power of light to bring people together?
For me, the atmosphere of the space is important. Does it feel good? Do I feel comfortable? Do I feel safe? Do I feel joy? But most importantly, is the client happy? 'Customer First.'
My inspiration comes from traveling the world, going to museums, and being in inspiring spaces. I love to share to good experiences with clients.
What is not yet possible in lighting architecture that you would like to see become a reality in the future?
It should be easier to realize the vision of the clients. Because so much is possible, we need a complete interdisciplinary team to design with lighting products and services.
I would love to have IntelliHue in the professional indoor projects, like track spots, with color mixing in the lens. In daytime, you can enjoy natural light, but in the darker hours or seasons, you need artificial light to experience space. Lighting should not be a closing post, but part of the total architectural solution. Therefore, you should invest in lighting. It should be part of the project. Since we have LED solutions, we can reduce energy usage and develop lighting scenarios to create different experiences.
In June 2023 I celebrated my 25th anniversary at Signify. Together with architects and clients, I would like to continue creating more beautiful projects. I learn every day and from every project.