Lighting Design in Architecture: A Conversation with Hervé Descottes and Steven Holl

Lighting Design in Architecture: A Conversation with Hervé Descottes and Steven Holl

ArchDaily Professionals is an initiative that focuses on all of the collaborators involved in architecture and construction, who participated and are credited in the projects we have carefully curated and published. This project aims to recognize and highlight the best collaborators responsible for delivering the best architecture, by delivering valuable knowledge related to the different disciplines within our community. Today, we are launching a series of video interviews between architects and collaborating professionals, to learn more about their work and to understand the importance of these relationships to deliver high-quality architectural projects.

For this first interview, ArchDaily’s Managing Editor, Christele Harrouk, met with lighting design firm L’Observatoire International’s founder, Hervé Descottes, and American architect Steven Holl. In this moderated talk, we had the chance to speak to Hervé and Steven about their collaboration in three cultural projects in the United States: the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, the Winter Visual Arts Building, and Nancy and Rich Kinder Museum. In this conversation, we learned more about what lighting in architecture means to them, how space and light should be conceived and why a close collaboration between architects and lighting designers is crucial to architecture projects.

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Steven Holl Architects, an architecture firm based in New York City and Beijing, has been delivering multiple scale projects in the fields of cultural, educational, and residential architecture, to name a few. Led by Steven Holl, they are known for their sensitivity in the design of space and light, together with concept-driven design, they create buildings that are as imaginative as innovative.

“My favorite material as an architect is light because it is a spiritual material. To me, architecture is about light, space, and form.” - Steven Holl. 

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Nancy and Rich Kinder Museum. Image © Richard Barns
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Nancy and Rich Kinder Museum. Image © Richard Barns

L’Observatoire International was founded by Hervé Descottes in 1993 in New York City. As a team of global architectural lighting designers, their mission is to enhance architectural elements and design intentions through lighting. Their expert knowledge of the use of light as a tool for transforming spaces and creating spatial atmospheres has led them to work in collaboration with several world-renowned architects such as Steven Holl, Frank Gehry, Jean Nouvel, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and Bjarke Ingels.

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Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU. Image © Iwan Baan

“I met Steven Holl in New York and very rapidly he opened up a window to architecture and to a better understanding of the meaning of lighting in architecture. I started to think more as an architect, rather than a as lighting designer." - Hervé Descottes

“The best lighting designer should be totally invisible,” Hervé adds, and this is why his collaborations with Steven Holl are so successful. Both share an idea of the conception of space and how this should be enhanced with lighting. "I think of space, architecture, and emotion as one, and really strive to find the right balance so as to not be visible in the art of being a lighting designer," says Hervé.

"I am interested in the experiential dimension of architecture, and philosophically Hervé and I are working in this same belief. Hervé can help me achieve these dimensions, which is a different challenge in every project."- Steven Holl. 

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Winter Visual Arts Building. Image © Paul Warchol

Check out our curated Community of Professionals and find the right collaborator for your next project. If your company has been credited in any of the projects we published - we invite you to verify and edit your ArchDaily profile here. As always, at ArchDaily we welcome the contributions of our readers; if you want to submit an article or project, contact us.

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Cite: Paula Pintos. "Lighting Design in Architecture: A Conversation with Hervé Descottes and Steven Holl" 01 Dec 2021. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/972027/lighting-design-in-architecture-a-conversation-with-herve-descottes-and-steven-holl> ISSN 0719-8884

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建筑中的照明设计:与 Hervé Descotes 和斯蒂文· 霍尔的对话

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