The ground rules for The Lighting Tree are simple. The previous candidate suggests the next candidate – and the next candidate needs to be differently gendered. Stuart Alexander has proposed Ellie Greisen as the next occupant of The Lighting Tree.
Ellie Greisen is Principal of Studio EG.
1. What was the fascination with lighting that drew you to into this career?
I think having a creative mind would be the fundamental reason behind being drawn to lighting. Looking around from a very young age and pondering the reasons why the world around me was attractive, whether it be something in nature, a piece of art, a building, a photograph, an outfit or a person.
Realising slowly that there is something which connects everything which is visually pleasing, and that is light. Once this gets into your head, there is no stopping it. Looking at every little detail of a thing and analysing why it looks good and how the light has achieved this. I can happily spend time staring at a set of railings, appreciating how the simple repetitive light and dark is pleasing to look at.
Lighting design and light art allows one to apply light to the world around us, creating environments using light as a tool, and it is infinitely satisfying.
2. There are lots of aspects to creating good lighting design; is there any one aspect of the process that means more to you than anything else?
I love a creative meeting, where you can sit down with the team and go through the design and bounce ideas around. It has taken a long time to be fully confident in these environments, sometimes thinking of an idea and not having the confidence to voice it. I have slowly learned to trust in my ideas and voice my opinions early on in the process. When you see your idea being discussed amongst the team, and finally implemented, it’s the best feeling for a creative person. Seeing an idea come to fruition.
I do also love to be on site, whether it is at the beginning of the project, during the process, or at the very end. Experiencing the space is a vital part of the process and often new ideas or mistakes are noticed when on site.
3. I guess we should also ask, for balance, is there anything in the process that you’d prefer to avoid and pass onto someone else in the studio?
Of course!! Control schedules, Part L calculations, emergency lighting, lighting calcs. I would happily never do these things again. But they are also vital parts of the process (sometimes) and someone has to do them (sometimes).
Oh and something which I don’t hate, but can be challenging is value engineering. I try to see this is an opportunity to be more creative, to find a way of creating a good design that the client can afford. There is nothing better than thinking of an interesting idea which saves the client money, but you have to dig deep.
4. What or who are your influences when it comes to light creation?
Hmm, well as explained I am looking at lighting continually, every day, in every aspect, and this of course influences how I design. So in a way, everything influences me, because lighting influences everything else.
Nature is possibly an obvious one, but it has to be mentioned when talking about lighting influence. Nature influences us all, but light in nature is something magical.
5. Tell us something about the Ellie Greisen that exists outside of lighting.
Most people know that I LOVE DOGS! I have two terriers; Archie and Carrot. They make me happy every day, and I feel honoured to have them in my life and the love which they give me.
I also love glass, I have dabbled in glass blowing over the years, and it is something I would like to pick up again later in life, using recycled glass to create a range of light fittings.
I am a keen wild swimmer. Outdoor swimming is therapy for me. I love the water, sky and nature combined, the feeling of weightlessness, and I like the cold. Being underwater is like flying, there is nothing quite like it.