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5. October 2010

Gerd Pfarré: “Lighting is Music to the Eye”

Gerd Pfarré is an independent lighting designer who is working in the whole world. For the first Luminale in Frankfurt he invented the format “Celebration of Light”, a new event-format for the international lighting community. One of the most impressive events was the “Celebration of Light” during Luminale 2004 with Ingo Maurer and his team. Pfarré has organized it in cooperation with IALD. Luminapolis spoke with Gerd Pfarré about his exhibition in Munich.

: Gerd Pfarré, you are founder of pfarré lighting design. These days you will open an exhibition in Munich, presenting selected projects of the last ten years. The title of this retrospective is “lighting is music to the eye”. What does it mean?

Gerd Pfarré
: Years ago, this phrase was the spontaneous reaction of a drummer, who asked me about my profession. I described him what we do, and he replied “ah, so you are making music for the eyes !” The title leaves room for interpretation. It makes sense without the need for a perfect explanation or definition. This is what I like about it. To me, “lighting is music” has more to do with feeling, quality, harmony, and composition rather than with taste or opinion. A good lighting project can have a great impact to us; surrounded by the right light, we are feeling well. Dolby surround lighting design, if you want. In fact, one can regard a lighting scheme as an orchestration, don’t you think ? And sometimes, we cannot listen to what we see…

: What are your personal experiences with light? How did you come in contact with professional lighting?

Gerd Pfarré
: In the mid 70ties, in the basement of my parent’s house, I illuminated my silver drumkit and made photos of it. In the photos, the light sources were hidden. I really liked these images with a kind of stage-like sparkle, drama, and the play of light and shadow. I even prepared a dark background, for a better contrast. I was 16 years old. At this time, my interest in light and lighting began. In one of my early interior projects, 1982 or so, I missed the right light. I designed a rather simple luminaire for a bathroom, and it was manufactured, in brass, nickel-coated, with 2 Linestra bulbs (those energy efficient bulbs with a filament, you remember ?). This was my first professional experience. Many others followed during my time with Ingo Maurer. In his “laboratory” I got in touch with product design, but after a couple of years and “learning by burning”, I prefered working on lighting projects. I got hooked with the project planning, and I still have a lot of fun doing it.

: What is the most important project you realized in the last ten years?

Gerd Pfarré
: No doubt, the “Palace of International Forums” in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. A once-in-a-lifetime project. A good budget, almost no time for discussions. All designs and decisions were made in a rush; in some cases, things were built or already on site before the plan was printed out. The client was happy, and we did a great job. The chemistry in the entire design team could not have been better; it was an extraordinary experience.

: What do you think are the challenges for professional lighting designers in the near future?

Gerd Pfarré
: Create outstanding, wonderful projects, well balanced with the architecture, the city- or landscape. As more good lighting projects we realize, as better it will be for all of us; for the quality of light, our quality of life, and for the quality of our profession. Practising as an independent lighting designer is not always easy: budget restraints, compromises, etc. etc., but creating high quality will always increase the awareness of our clients and the public at-large – because high quality projects win design awards and are published widely. To me, one of the challenges for the future lies in raising the bar of lighting quality by using highly efficient and sustainable technologies.

: What is your next project?

Gerd Pfarré
: We are involved in an interesting study for the public lighting of an urban quarter with 600 apartments, a school, shops, cafés etc., in France. Among other projects, a new restaurant in Frankfurt will be opened soon. Along with the lighting design, we created a very cool custom-designed lighting system which is currently being manufactured. In November, I am having interesting appointments in the Middle East region: we will keep you up to date!

Information about the exhibition

pfarré lighting design
Sonnentaustrasse 12
D-80995 München
t +49.(0)89. 540 41 43-0
f +49.(0)89. 540 41 43-43

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