STATEMENT OF INTEREST AND INTENTIONS

The first post is very symbolic and I’m extremely superstitious about it. The way you write your first post you will write the rest, so I am going to copy and paste the text of my Statement of interest that was prepared during application process to MFA Lighting Design at Parsons. I am sure about this one, because at least I got accepted.

STATEMENT OF INTEREST AND INTENTIONS

Edouard Manet once said that the “principal person in a picture is light.” I would take this statement even further: light is a principal element in every aspect of life. However, with such abundance and variety of light sources in our lives, I feel, we often take it for granted. And while the engineering progress has gone very far from oil lanterns and candles, our understanding of light’s effects on people and their environment has not kept the same pace.

To me, light has three main characteristics. First, it is mystical; throughout time light has had a great influence on people in art, religion, philosophy. It connotes safety, strength, and divinity. It is a physical manifestation of energy and a source of heat. Its effects are largely subconscious, which only further stresses its importance. Next, it is decorative; so much of the light’s beauty is defined by the form that holds, filters, or emits it. Finally, light is functional, an aspect greatly influenced by accelerated development of new light forms in the last 50 years.

My first encounter with the decorative aspect of light, aside from the purely every-day applications, was when I was studying design at Samara State University of Architecture and Civil Engineering in Russia. The school was founded by architects and, in comparison to its American or European counterparts, it offered a very traditional academic environment, driven by conceptual rather than real-world applications. We were given opportunities to participate in a wide variety of projects, from urban planning to graphic design, with art principles and theories dominating the lectures. My studies were primarily about the form and light was relegated to a secondary/supportive function. It was an accoutrement and much of the time was spent on things such as determining the right lamp design. This absence of interest in the light itself, in fact, drew my attention to it. I found myself looking outside my lectures to find new ideas and tendencies for application and use of light. Light became a thread crossing my school projects as well.

In 2007, when I studied at Parsons Summer Interior Design School, I faced the functionality of light. American design, especially as it was taught to me, is extremely utilitarian and function-based. I was immediately attracted to it as to my mind function defines form and not the other way around. I found light no longer an afterthought, it was proposed as a very important element of a bigger picture. Managing of light’s color, brilliance or strength was as important as that of floor plans. It was given a charming ability to solely manipulate structures and create completely new final forms. I was drawn in by the possibilities.

More recently, in my studies and independent research, I found a new tendency in light’s treatment in design and architecture. The new holistic approach unites light’s mystical influence, decorative applications, and functional form in order to not only serve an end purpose but to improve on it. This new theory reinforced my interest in lighting design even more because it goes beyond lighting as an embellishment to using light to solve psychological, ecological, economic, and social problems. I think that it is a first time when one element has as much influence as the entire whole and it intrigues and excites me.

I found Parsons lighting design program during my summer studies there and was dreaming to apply to it since. I was glad to see that the program considers light as a separate discipline, on par with architecture or product design, but nonetheless interdependent with other design fields. I greatly value Parsons’ approach of having an interior designer, a lighting designer, and an architect work on the same studio project; it recreates a real world situation and provides a much needed realistic experience that so many other schools undervalue. But more importantly, I am interested in the social/psychological aspects of lighting design offered by the program. My main professional ambition is to create structures that specifically maximize well being, comfort and fulfillment of people. As light has such an incredible effect on person’s psyche, I feel that the lighting designer has a great responsibility to preserve it. Parsons program will give me the necessary knowledge and experience for this.

Eventually, I want to work on urban lighting projects. While they are very challenging owning to their scale and complexity, I am particularly interested in them because so much rests on the light: public safety, sustainability, and ecology. I hope one day to give every child of a metropolis an ability to finally see and enjoy a starry night.

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