The Lighting Tree: Juliet Rennie

The latest addition to The Lighting Tree is Juliet Rennie.
As we all know, Juliet is coordinator for the Society of Light and Lighting and received a 40under40 trophy at the 2019 Lighting Design Awards, awarded to ‘the most talented and promising individuals working in the lighting design industry ‘. Congratulations, Jules!
Juliet was nominated for The Lighting Tree by Alex Bittiner.

What was the fascination with lighting that drew you to into this career?

Juliet Rennie

It’s so fundamentally emotive. Light completely frames our view, our memories and the atmosphere within a given space. I am so fortunately that within my role at the Society, we work with people from all aspects of the lighting industry and that gives me the opportunity to dip my toe into such a broad array of light related topics and applications. Before I ever understood that it was a career option, my Dad took me to see the Weather Project by Olafur Eliasson at the Tate. It was amazing to sit in that warm glow and watch as families with small children came into the Turbine Hall, seeing them genuinely struck by this ethereal but arresting sense of calm. Retrospectively, I think this installation might have illustrated something about the transformative power of light, which I hadn’t previously thought about.

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?

Whilst my experience of working within the lighting industry doesn’t lie directly in lighting design, the whole process of developing a creative concept is so exciting. I like to read and write and so I think it appeals to an active imagination. It demands that you listen and try to understand the needs of the client or occupier of a space. Unfortunately, trying to understand the experience of others isn’t always (or not often enough) something that we prioritise but, in this case, it’s essential.

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?

With most jobs there is a level of repetition which would probably be quite nice to hand over. I don’t have experience as a practicing lighting designer but I did study lighting design. Whilst working on some of my assignments, there were times (mainly later in the evening) where the calculations weren’t adding up as quickly as the frustration but, I think that’s just part of the learning process!

What or who are your influences when it comes to light creation?

Well, stating the obvious here but you really can’t beat natural light. Whilst not necessarily creating light, I was lucky enough to make it along to James Turrell’s Skyspace in the Yorkshire Scuplture Park and more recently to Writ on Water, a collaboration between Mark Wallinger and Studio Octupi in Runnymede, Surrey. The use of clean, simple architectural lines framing skylight is breath-taking. The simplicity of the lines and the juxtaposition of the vastness beyond represents something essential and bigger.

 Tell us something about the you that exists outside of lighting.

I love to read, I’m a big fan of writers like Franz Kafka, Jeanette Winterson, Huraki Murakami and Herman Hesse. I tend to favour writers that explore and blur the boundaries between reality and imagination, creating worlds which are simultaneously relatable and dreamlike. I particularly like dystopic fiction, reflecting on the more oppressive or divisive aspects of society, whilst celebrating tolerance and compassion.

Juliet receives her 40under40 trophy at the Lighting Design Awards, 2019
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