Lighting Design Education in Norway… Why and What?

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Even if obvious for many people it is essential to underline the unavoidable fact that, due to its geographical location Norway counts among the few countries in the world where the populations are the less exposed to daylight through the whole year. This phenomenon has strong physiological and psychological impacts on peoples. 

Why a lighting education in Norway?
Artificial lighting is taking a tremendous important space in their life as much regarding quantitative aspects as qualitative one. Consequently it should be natural that Norway becomes a leading country in the field, not only of daylight (as it is already thanks to the great research group in Trondheim) but also, and especially, in the field of artificial lighting design, as much on the professional as on the academic side. Both should strengthen each other for the population’s good.

The demand for lighting services in this nordic country is already relatively significant according to its size. Nevertheless this demand has still a huge increasing potential. An educational program can, thanks to its simple presence as well as through various activities, strengthen the efforts done by the professionals and their associations for generating higher awareness on the value of lighting design among professional bodies (developers, architects, interior and landscape designers), public institutions and the general public. A lighting education ensures the quality of the future practitioners and researchers in the filed. Not keeping or replacing the lighting program would send the signal that lighting is more or less trivial.

One more factor supporting a Norwegian lighting education can be addressed as a question. All other scandinavian countries offer lighting modules or programs… why Norway wouldn’t? In lighting design, as it is in any other fields, Norway has it’s own cultural issues, ways of doing, of thinking, of approaching things, not only in comparison to the other Nordic countries but also in comparison to the rest of the world. Giving value to these cultural distinctions can only be enriching for everyone.

What to do for a lighting education in Norway?
The curriculum of the study program should be strategically shaped. In order to face the challenges of the coming future, beside the lighting fundamentals related to physics, photometry, environmental and technical aspects, the students might need to broaden their theoretical and critical perspectives and get a more diversified set of skills. The transdisciplinarity nature of lighting design should be clearly embraced. We should aim to train both at the same time «design generalists and lighting specialists» (N.Rozot, IES, April 2014).

Structured collaborations with scandinavian and other international academic institutions should be developed as well as with manufacturers and lighting associations. Student and staff exchanges and research projects could be established. Clear «give and take» arrangements could be organised between the school and each company to give the students the possibility to work with the latest products on the market and to give each brand the opportunity to become well known by the students. Sponsorship could be created for some activities. Large and small scale lighting workshops should be planned in collaboration with professionals and manufacturers.

Also the institution where the program could take place should truly believe in the value of lighting design. Ideally it should provide a favourable working environment with a workshop space where the students can build mock-ups and make luminaires as well as studios where they can do all kinds of experimentations. As you can see from the pictures, lots of great activities have happened at HIBU/HBV and many others could take place. This institution has certainly the capacities and facilities to keep its program. One way or the other, Norway needs and deserves an educational lighting program of high quality. And I strongly believe that its success and sustainability can only happen thanks to convinced and convincing, determined and dedicated, united people from the Norwegian lighting community.

While you are reading this article the administration committee of HBV should be close to deciding on the destiny of its ten years old bachelor lighting design program. Several people from the Norwegian lighting community, designers, manufacturers, representative of professional associations, academics and ex-students, have commented on its eventual shut down with these words «It would be sad». Obviously this response reflects a real wish of having an educational lighting program in Norway, and the apparent emotional aspect of it can certainly be understood by a rational and reasonable explanation.

One way or an other, if the program at HBV is preserved or not, this current period of shift is an ideal opportunity for all actors of this continuously growing professional and academic community to reflect seriously upon the needs for and of a high quality lighting design education in Norway

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