We chat with lighting industry legend Dawn Kidd about her time in the Australian lighting design community and some of the highlights of her industrious career.
July 24th, 2015
Why did you join the lighting industry?
In 1980, I met Rob Cooper from Lightmakers and he employed me to help him set up a retail lighting shop in Sydney CBD as he wanted to start importing Italian lighting to add to his locally manufactured lights. He had been to the Italian lighting fair in Milan and was very excited about bringing the Flos brand to Australia as they also wanted to sell through a lighting distributor.
I was sent to Milan and Brescia to learn all about their products and I was also taught that you have to sell that type of lighting ‘from the heart’. It was to be the way I approached all the brands that I have sold ever since. I love telling clients about the designers’ inspiration and history of each fitting so they also understand how special it is.
I was employed by Euroluce to set up another retail lighting shop due to my history with Flos 23 years ago. We combined the best of the European light brands and created a showroom of world class standard and I still enjoy telling my stories to clients.
What changes have you witnessed during your time in the Australian lighting design community?
When I started selling lighting, the halogen lamp was being incorporated into domestic products. This ‘new’ light source inspired lighting and industrial designers to create new and wonderful lights for many years.
Now all these years later, the same thing is happening again with LED except that this time the light source is still evolving –the designers are going to be kept busy for years to come. I wonder what the future holds?
What is your favourite all-time light and why? Light designer or lighting designer?
I love many lights but my favourite is the Flos Taccia lamp designed by Achille Castiglioni. I had the good fortune to meet him on the 1994 Flos stand in Milan (see photo) a few years later and consider him to be one of the all time greats in design. Of course I have many of his lights in my apartment and a Taccia has pride of place.
What is a stand-out project for lighting design?
The very first client I helped with their lighting design was when I started Lightwise in 1992. It was with an American company that built a Museum in Papua in a remote village where they were mining. I was saddened to hear that it was all destroyed in an uprising a couple of years later. Many high end residential houses and apartments make it too hard for me to chose a stand-out project….there are too many.
Which lighting brand has developed in the most interesting way?
It is hard to separate my top 3 – Flos, Reggiani and O Luce. All are designed and produced using the best architects and designers and manufactured with quality materials. They lead the industry and others copy.
Can you share your favourite anecdote relating to lighting?
I would love a dollar for everytime I was asked “what is the latest light to come on range?” The funny thing is that even the lights from the 1950s are still ‘new again’.
Describe your feelings as you retire and share your hopes for the future of the industry.
I have already received many warm wishes from clients that make me feel I have been invaluable with helping them with their lighting needs over the many years in the industry.
The trips to Milan to gather information and selling many fantastic brands have kept me in the industry.
The architects and designers I have dealt with over the years have been great clients and many have become friends. I shall miss all of them, well most!
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