Enterprise Coworking Community Spotlight: AKLD Lighting Design

This month Lauren sat down with Lisa Bartlett, Lighting Director and Harmon Lee, Lighting Specialist for the Mountain Division of AKLD Lighting Design
AKLD Lighting Design is an award-winning architectural lighting design studio creating innovative lighting solutions for a wide variety of project types and sizes. Design excellence is paramount for AKLD. Their team is passionately committed to designing sustainable, resilient electric lighting and control systems while holding sacred the visual comfort and impact goals for the project. They are a certified WBE, DBE, and WOSB working on projects both in North America and internationally.


LAUREN: [00:00:02] Hello and welcome back to Enterprise Coworking Community Spotlight. This month we are sitting down with Lisa Bartlett, lighting director, and Harmon Lee, lighting specialist for the Mountain West Division of AKLD Lighting Design. Lisa, Harmon, thank you so much for sitting down with me today.


LISA: [00:00:22] Awesome. Great to be here.


LAUREN: [00:00:24] Excellent. So let's get right into it. Why don't you guys tell us about akld Lighting Design and what you guys all do?


LISA: [00:00:33] You got it. Well, the name sort of says it all, but most people are not necessarily familiar with lighting design as a specialty discipline. So most people are familiar with architecture and interior design. And we are another design discipline that does focus specifically on lighting design across a whole range of project types. So we design the architectural and and sometimes the decorative lighting as well in project types that range from offices to luxury residential projects, people's homes, universities, houses of worship. We do health care, so pretty diverse in our project types, and we are hired as lighting designers by, it varies project to project. Sometimes we're hired directly by the client, and that might be a homeowner or a developer or a university. Sometimes we're hired and brought in by the architect or the interior designer because they really value architectural lighting design and are able to put together a collaborative team. But one of the things that we do is we work directly with all of the other design team members because lighting design is always supportive of showcasing the architecture and the interior design and even the landscape architecture. So we work really intimately with all of those design disciplines. Interestingly enough, architectural lighting design as an education did not come into it was not available until relatively recently. And so people typically came into lighting design either through the world of architecture or the world of theatre. And Harmon and I both have backgrounds in architecture, and I also have a background in interior design. Our firm has other folks with backgrounds in architecture, engineering, interior design, theatre, and even fine arts. So we're really diverse and we can think about things in different ways. But maybe would you like to just see some of our work? Would that be helpful?


LAUREN: [00:02:48] Absolutely. Yeah.


LISA: [00:02:49] Okay. Right. Harmon, do you want to share? You want me to?


HARMON: [00:02:53] Yeah. I'll pull up our website and just kind of we can go through some some projects if you'd like?


LISA: [00:03:03] There's always so much more fun to just see the work, right?


LAUREN: [00:03:06] Totally!


HARMON: [00:03:08] Yeah. I'd say that these two projects, they're both residential projects. We're kind of the poster children of AKLD for kind of the opportunity that light can play in a project and the role that we really bring on. So yeah, this one is a residence in Wisconsin and we worked with the architect. You know, hand in hand to create this beautiful lighting scheme that really acts as a lantern in and elevates the architecture and the materials in this project.


LISA: [00:03:46] And we designed, we designed all of the architectural lighting. I'm not sure on this project if we had selected the decorative fixtures, that might have been the interior designer. But for instance, like that cove lighting that you see in that ribbon the between the lower glass and the upper glass, that is actually one of the most magical things about the project because it's allowing the ceiling to glow. So when we look at a project like this and we're working with the architect and the interior designer, we're starting to identify and uncover those opportunities where we can highlight the materials, highlight the forms in the architecture, and then working on the details because exactly how that molding that trim was designed and exactly what luminaire is in that to give that beautiful warm glow on the ceiling, which by the way, we fully intended that this view that you're seeing, the lighting was thought about not just from the interior, but the exterior as well. And so that kind of level of detail into integrating the lighting where we're not looking for the lighting to necessarily be the superstar, the star of the show, but more like the best supporting actor or actress it's really just helping the entire design really, really look beautiful, but also be visually comfortable and a really comfortable, wonderful place to be.


LAUREN: [00:05:08] Yeah, that's beautiful. Very inviting. I love how the lighting compliments and brings out the architecture. I think that's a great pairing together.


LISA: [00:05:22] All right, maybe I want to show a hospitality project to just for a or maybe an office project, just for a little bit of a visual contrast.


HARMON: [00:05:32] Yeah. So, I mean, obviously a supporting role in a project, or it can take the forefront and really transfer space to another level and is truly what you get. It causes you a totally different experience in the space. And so this is a great example of that with color changing RGV and all these different layers of light, right? Like you walk into this space and you're just in awe because there's so many things to look at. And so yeah, that's just another example of what lighting can do to a space. And AKLD Lighting Design has been doing it for a very long time. We've been in business for 28 years. Believe it or not and we've worked on projects all across the nation, but we're we're headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. So a lot of projects are around that area in the city. You know just these beautiful high rise apartments and also a lot of commercial work in that area. So, yeah, What else? What else Lauren?


LAUREN: [00:06:53] Yeah, that's beautiful. I loved all of that in there. That was so great. Yeah. This is awesome. It's great to actually see the work because, I mean, the work that you're in, it's visual, so it helps us. I love that. That's amazing. So let's see here. Another question. So what would you say makes AKLD Lighting Design different from other companies in your field?


LISA: [00:07:24] Harmon, do you want to tackle that first?


HARMON: [00:07:26] Yeah, yeah, yeah, of course. So I think the largest thing, the biggest thing that sets us apart off the bat is we are strictly lighting design and we're a boutique firm and that's all we focus on. So a lot of times in this, you know, an engineering firm will sometimes have people that that will do this or even an architecture firm sometimes has in-house lighting designers. But as, as you know, a field is strictly lighting design and that's all we focus on. So I think that's the big thing. So do you have anything else?


LISA: [00:08:06] Yeah. You know what? What comes to mind for me is, that there are a lot of lighting designers that are people that do lighting design that fall into one of two categories. There are folks that have more of an engineering focus and that deliver very technical solutions and can deliver an even blanket of illumination. And there are people who tend to be a little more artistic or theatrical and are able to do that. But perhaps the ability to comply with energy codes which restrict how many watts we can have on a project, and thus we have to be very intelligent about lighting design and very thoughtful about sustainability and AKLD Lighting Design does a great job of blending the creative and the technical, so we're able to not just come up with the beautiful concepts and ideas, but we're actually able to implement those. And that entails not just the creativity, it entails the communication with the project team. We spend a lot of time working through budgets on projects and making sure that lighting is actually coming in at the the appropriate cost because it's a field that for those those not in the field, the best way I can describe it as is this is kind of a joke, is the lighting mafia. There's a there are so many channels of markups that something that should cost just make up a number $100 by the time that it reaches the client may cost $200 or $300. So we like to be advocates for lighting and make sure that we can actually get things built. And that requires not only the creativity and the technical know how, but also the grit and determination to actually see a project through the completion of construction. So I would say that that differentiates us as well.


LAUREN: [00:10:06] Absolutely. That's awesome. We're going to switch up the question a little bit here, and we're going to ask you why you guys chose Enterprise Coworking?


HARMON: [00:10:19] So, you know, it's funny, Lisa and I talk about this a lot, and I think the biggest thing that we love about Enterprise is there's always a buzz going on and there's so many different companies in the same space that I think Lisa and I just kind of feed off that type of energy, you know? So it's always going on and people meeting and walking around the office. You'd be surprised how big of a difference that makes in your day, you know, kind of helping you if you need a mental break, you walk over to the cafe or go down to the kitchen and talk to somebody you've never met before. That does a totally different thing. And yeah, I think that's one of the biggest things. And I mean, for me it's also the location and being in RiNo and just a really amazing creative place that I think is so important for a profession that that we do.


LAUREN: [00:11:22] So absolutely, yeah, that's the true spirit of coworking, you know, getting to meet all different kinds of people and different fields. That's what we really try to bring everybody together to do.


LISA: [00:11:36] We really enjoy being part of the enterprise Coworking community. One of these days, in all the travels, we're going to try out all the other ones that we've got, the like the partnership agreements. I look at that list all the time. I'm like, Oh, when am I going to be there? When am I going to be there? I want to check out some of the other ones.


LAUREN: [00:11:55] Totally. Yeah. That's a great program that we are a part of the LexC community. All over the world there are coworking spaces with that. So yeah, you check some of those out.


HARMON: [00:12:08] Lauren, have you been to any other ones?


LAUREN: [00:12:11] I haven't. I haven't, because I don't really travel too much for work, you know?


LISA: [00:12:19] You're not planning on on a vacation where you go check out all the other coworking spaces.


LAUREN: [00:12:24] You never know! Exactly. So our last question would be speaking to our viewers, is there anything else that you would like them to know about AKLD Lighting Design, about you guys all, what you do, anything else?


LISA: [00:12:48] Absolutely. I mean, there's so much to say. But Harmon, if you could stop screen sharing, I will show a couple of drawings. And just because, again, it's great to see the visuals and then be able to speak a little bit to a couple of other things that are really useful to know. So this is actually showcasing some early concept work just so that people can see a little bit of the type work that we do. So we worked on these renders. This is for a mid-rise project in downtown Bellevue, which is just outside of Seattle. And what's important to note about this is that and I think this is something that is the bigger picture of how a scaled lighting design approaches projects. We are involved early. We're deeply passionate about what we do. So, for instance, this example was born out of early design charrette with the architect, the landscape architect and the client to establish what were the really important parts of this exterior portion of the project. We're also working on the interior, but that collaboration and that passion and that creativity have fueled this early part of the project. However, we are not just designing visual aspects of lighting something that people outside of the world of lighting may have begun to hear about is that lighting has an enormous impact on our circadian rhythms. So there are biological and neurological effects. Lighting is actually regulating as the the as the primary driver of our circadian rhythm. So our sleep wake cycles, our energy levels, when we're focused and motivated, when we're relaxed, it even impacts hunger and sex drive. So what we're doing with lighting is hugely, hugely impactful on health and wellness, and those are things that we think about during the design process and we talk about with our clients. So through the work that we do and again, this is just a visual example of part of what we're part of what we do, just one piece of it. We are striving to inspire and elevate, and we also want to bring joy to our projects and our clients and our team. So we'd like to find and we welcome people to strike up a conversation with us, whether around the office they have any interest in chatting about a potential project. We would be delighted to do that. And we just love what we do. We absolutely love what we do.


LAUREN: [00:15:25] That's awesome. I have learned a lot about lighting and how important it is here.


LISA: [00:15:31] We actually deliver. We actually have a full CEU or a continuing education credit that we deliver regularly to architects and interior designers and even clients about circadian lighting. And it's something that Harmon and I we really like to talk about. So anyway, I continue to learn more every day about that. And I think the medical research is fascinating and it goes well beyond visual effects.


LAUREN: [00:15:57] Yeah, that's so interesting. That's really, really cool. That's awesome. Well, thank you guys so much for sitting down with me today. I'm sure we could talk for hours about this. Definitely. But yeah, we are so happy to have you guys as part of our coworking community. Love to see you guys around. And then if anybody would like some more information on AKLD Lighting Design, you can go to AKLD.net. Thank you, guys.


LISA: [00:16:26] Thank you.


HARMON: [00:16:27] Yeah.