Q&A with Maria Albuquerque, Lighting, Art + Science Senior Lighting Designer

Introduce yourself and tell us about your career path so far.
My name is Maria Albuquerque and I have been practising lighting design for the last 8 years. I’m Portuguese and my background is in Civil Engineering. Whilst studying for my degree I studied a year abroad in Rome, and one of the subjects I selected was Lighting Design. I really enjoyed it but never really applied it when working as a construction engineer. But lighting was always in the back of my mind so, in 2012 when we moved to Australia, the decision to study lighting design and make the change was easy. Whilst studying for the master’s degree at Sydney Uni I joined the team at Lighting, Art & Science (LA+S) and haven’t left.

Describe a typical day’s work.
At LA+S we mainly work on public domain lighting. A typical day would include initial meetings with the client to understand the lighting outcome they are after, what is the expected outcome and the general appearance of the space. We then will work on a lighting concept. It translates what was discussed, with initial luminaire selections and locations. After the concept is agreed on and refined, we then perform the lighting calculations. To ensure the concept will work as expected and that the client/architect/landscape architect will be satisfied with the results, we gather light samples and do site trials in situ. These site trials allow us to revise and confirm the design. This process allows all parties involved to be comfortable with the outcome.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your role?
I think the most rewarding aspect of lighting design is to create spaces you are comfortable in. If the light sources are noticeable, then they’re glary making the space uncomfortable. A good lighting design is often a design where the effect is the main focal point, and not the luminaires.

And of course, whenever we get an email from the client thanking the team for the great outcome of all the effort we’ve put on a project, it just feels so good.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career and how have you over overcome it?
This is a tricky question. Each project has its own challenges… But probably the biggest challenge is to educate clients about the importance of good lighting. To illustrate that “more” in lighting doesn’t mean “better”.

What advice would you give to other women considering a career in the lighting, design, and construction industry?
My only advice for women, in any work, is to be genuine. Be true to your values and principles. People around you are more likely to rely on you, trust and respect you when you are true to yourself.