Category: Lighting

Exciting Project on the board!

Quite excited to be asked to collaborate on the design team for a church preservation / renovation / addition project!

Here is the early story of the project beginnings, of a local hero attempting to save a piece of history in her town. I loved reading about the early dreams they had for this place!

One portion of architect Robert Swinburne‘s initial thoughts on the project during his early design work:
“This is an old church begin turned into a modern home. My approach with this design is to minimally impact the large main space of the church. … We are looking at a full height metal and glass separation from the large area of the church (from the residence addition) which will provide some acoustical changes, affect the heat distribution, lighting and provide a more intimate feeling for fewer occupants.  Large sliding panels will allow this curtain wall to open up.”
A short video made by the architect leading the design team, with glimpses of what the project will become!

Taking this original early 1900s St. Mary’s on the Lake church from this…

…to this!

One of my early interior renderings.

Here, the reverse view from the residence addition.

Further updates will be posted as it all comes together!

Happy Diwali!

Diwali is the Hindu Festival of Lights.
One of the most popular festivals of Hinduism, Diwali symbolises the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance.”

During the climax, Diwali revellers illuminate the interior & exterior of their homes with oil lamps or candles, worship to Lakshmi (the goddess of prosperity and wealth), light fireworks, and partake in family feasts where sweets & gifts are shared.

We could all use more of that. Just sayin’!

JLC’s Energy Column – Good Reading

I’m pleased to be a part of the Energy column featured in Journal Of Light Construction’s May issue, written by senior editor Ted Cushman.  The column’s focus is on ‘high-efficacy lighting’ and illustrates how code changes & LED technology improvements are coming together and making for some great lighting.
A portion of my focus in the interview is that ‘every project at every budget level deserves great lighting’ and how ‘we (as lighting designers) are free to design an entire house to use LED. That definitely has moved beyond what the 2018 code is talking about.’
You can download the PDF here

A cluster of Moooi Random Lights with Cree LEDs and two smaller Dora LED pendants by SEED Design compliment the daylighting in this vaulted living space.



Table Lamps Galore!

Along with my wife Robin, in our Mathiesen & Mathiesen Design partnership, we have just recently finished a photo shoot of Raku & Obvara (aka Baltic Raku) pottery table lamps & vases for ceramic artist Jenifer Morier @ LightenUp Studio in Guilford VT. Presenting here, a few of our favorite shots.


Raku is a type of Japanese pottery and Jen’s works include crackle glaze, brilliant colors and hints of copper tones. Of Obvara, Jen says its “A centuries-old process where glaze-less pots are fired to 1650 degrees Fahrenheit then plunged into a fermented brew of flour, yeast, water, and sugar. Smells like burnt toast, in a good way.”

I was able to consult on sourcing electrical supplies (cording, Edison bases, dimmers, etc.) The lamps are equipped with Cree & Philips LED A-lamp bulbs, most with dimmers, ready to dress up your tables for work & play!

Next up we’re creating sconces from new Raku pieces, stay tuned!


Photometry is the science concerned with measuring visual response to light, in terms of its perceived brightness to the human eye. Because the eye is a highly complex organ, this is by no means a simple task.

OK, that’s a simplified definition, without the formulas & technical issues that drive the work.
Depending on your point of view, photometry is either the glamorous scientific side of a lighting designer’s efforts to create great lighting OR the quite less-than-sexy work to make a design function correctly by providing the correct levels of light to meet a code or need.

From either view, the resulting renders that are part of the engineering of photometry are both informative and cool.

Earlier this year I was asked to design an exterior lighting package for a restoration project of a city block in Bennington VT. Working with a design team of Stevens & Associates & the engineering firm of Dubois & King, we designed & engineered for public street entrances, rear building entries, two public courtyards and off-street parking & access ways.
The final photometric renderings by Dubois & King illustrate the results beautifully. Bright entries that beckon you to approach & provide abundant safe lighting at sidewalks & steps, courtyards that invite you to hangout & relax in them, and parking with a relatively even wash of light.

This was another wonderful collaboration, very happy to be a part of the teamwork!

Lighting The Way: Four Good Reasons Why You Need A Lighting Designer

Linking here to Stratton Magazine’s Fall 2017 issue with an article by Anita Rafael that I’m featured in: “Lighting The Way: Four Good Reasons Why You Need A Lighting Designer”.
Please let me know what you think!

It was a pleasure to be part of this and I am looking forward to a visit some day with Susan Brady @ SBLD Studio Architectural Lighting Design, the other designer featured in the article.

What Makes Good Lighting?

I begin with a caveat – This is an opinion piece.

First, I’d like to define what I mean when discussing ‘Good Lighting’.
Good Lighting is timeless and long-lasting, it’s innovative, it’s unobtrusive, and it’s environmentally friendly.
Good Lighting provides joy, safety, wellness, personal expression, unique character, and highlights detail in our spaces and in our lives.
Good Lighting creates a positive visceral response.

Before proceeding to work on any lighting design, the program (or concept) of the project is required for an understanding of the well-defined wants and needs of our clients.
Good Lighting Design issues that then need to be considered include: What are we lighting and where to place light; What type luminaire (fixture) and lamp (bulb) to use; How to control it. 

Ok. What makes Good Lighting? 
There are a few key elements that will apply no matter what style is chosen and no matter the size or budget of a project. 
• Create layers of light. Spaces are used in a variety of ways, the lighting should be flexible to allow that. Mixed sources will allow selections to be set to changes in mood or use.
• Use direct & indirect light. Work areas want quantities of task light directed to the surfaces. Ambient light gets washed or bounced off various materials.
• Incorporate shadow & asymmetric pattern. These are needed to provide contrast in a space. With that, we can appreciate the features, textures, and decoration.
• Hide the light source. Glare is the nemesis of good lighting. The trend to using bare bulbs is over-rated, and old-tyme-y edison bulbs do not provide enough quantity of lumens to be useful. 
More about this in a future post.
• Utilize advanced controls. In the simplest form, a dimmer instead of a switch. Perhaps add control of certain lamps via a smartphone app. A fully programmable & integrated system in a more extreme sense.
• Include a ‘feature’. This can be that fixture that makes our client smile or feel joyful. It might be a special purchase or a cherished hand-me-down or show piece luminaire.

Got ideas of your own about what makes Good Lighting? Please let me know, I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Tiny House Festival VT Followup

As some may have noted from other postings, I was asked to give a presentation on Lighting & Interior Design for Small Spaces at the first Tiny House Festival VT in Brattleboro VT this fall.

Here now, a copy of the talk I gave.

I’m pleased with the message, & the reception from those in attendance, even while being somewhat rushed on time. While this AV edit is a bit rough, a hat tip & many thanks to BCTV for all their efforts under unusual conditions that day.

I was also fortunate to be followed by Lina Menard of Niche Consulting, a tiny house design consultant from Portland OR. Another great take on tiny house design!

Both talks have great information on design, no matter what size you’re considering.
Shout out to the festival organizers for a job well done.
Onward to THFVT 2017!

What does that mean?

I am a Lighting Designer.

What does that mean (at least to me, and how could it benefit you)?

As a lighting designer, much of my work is in ‘atmosphere design’. In part this means planning how spaces (and the objects within) get illuminated & accentuated, about setting the tone or mood, and working at addressing the needs of the inhabitants & visitors.

Mine is a collaborative design practice. It always revolves around you as the client and often includes Architectural Designer, Interior Designer, Landscape Designer, and Electrician. Like these professionals, I have years of educational and project experiences to bring to bear on any design challenge. I believe an added bonus for me is years of work in the entertainment arena (dance, opera, theatre, music concerts, and touring) which give me a bit of a different perspective.

How we go about manipulating light and dark, incorporating day-lighting and shadow-play, choosing fixtures & materials, considering your (the client) personal choices, and the ‘big picture’ and overall design aesthetics are all elements of a successful project with an outcome you’ll be pleased with for generations to come. Good Design is timeless.

Like many of the design team members mentioned, I work through a number of design phases covering everything from initial concepts to occupancy. During design development I’ll work on possible inclusion of the latest technologies to keep the project as current / future-ready as possible; I’ll research best available lamping and use of color & tunable white lighting (more on color & tunable white lighting options in a separate future post); I’ll consider any light (and sound – yes, some lighting emits sounds) sensitivity you may have; and we’ll look at the overall style aesthetic for the spaces. Further along the design path we’ll have plenty of opportunity for dialog about what the lighting design / layout is going to accomplish, how the layering of light in the spaces will look, and about actual fixture proposals. During design documentation I’ll refine the fixture proposals, create the final design / layout and a fixture schedule to be used by the electrician to make fixture purchases and installation. The layout will specify fixture & switching locations, dimming functions, specific lamping for fixtures, applicable smarthome technologies, etc. In the actual construction phase I work to address any electrician / contractor needs. As the project reaches completion, I’m available to work on a final focus of any adjustable lighting included in the project so that the design elements are fully realized as you move in. I also like to review the project objectives and get client feedback after you have settled in to your new space.

Everyone deserves good design and great lighting.
Please be in touch.

Sharing Clients’ Love!

I do enjoy getting feedback of all types from all my clients, whenever it comes up.

I really love when I’m invoicing my design work and get replies like these:

M.F. writes after our design work on a kitchen / pantry lighting design…

“…(the electrician) was here today and did the pantry lighting.  Looks great. He will do the other (main) in mid April when the parts come in. Thanks so much for all your work and all your great ideas! So nice to work with you.”

M.K. sent this message along as the project progresses with lots of ‘too-long in the dark’ artwork gets well lit:

“…considering how great it looks thus far. (the electrician) will be here today to finish it, you should stop on by sometime and see how good the paintings finally look now that we can actually see them! Thanks for your expertise, again!”

Everyone deserves great lighting, and it can be achieved at every level no matter the size of the project or the budget.

Huge shoutout & hat-tip to Tim T., the electrician on these projects. I’m lucky to work with such a talented & easy-going contractor, who makes me look good while he does good work.

Thanks all!