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The Ephemeral Nature of Light With Siobhan Gomes McNabb

SGM-LCD is a recently established lighting consultancy and design practice led by Siobhan Gomes McNabb. Here, we discuss her international experiences, creative insights and exposure to such a fascinating element.

  • The Apo Fortitude Valley QLD, designed by Elie Moubarak and Juan Salazar. Photography courtesy of Elie Moubarak

  • The Apo Fortitude Valley QLD, designed by Elie Moubarak and Juan Salazar. Photography courtesy of Elie Moubarak

  • (LEFT) The Loft Apartment West Melbourne, designed by Adrian Amore. Photography courtesy of Adrian Amore. (RIGHT) Penfolds Magill Estate South Australia, designed by Pascale Gomes-McNabb Design.

  • Cumulus Inc & Up, Melbourne, designed by Pascale Gomes-McNabb Design. Photography by Earl Carter.

  • Marimekko King Street Sydney, designed by Saturday Studio. Photography courtesy of Marimekko.

  • Marimekko King Street Sydney, designed by Saturday Studio. Photography courtesy of Marimekko.

  • Audi Fivedock Sydney, designed by Audi in collaboration with Weir & Philips. Photography courtesy of Weir & Philips.

  • Lighting cosultant and designer, Siobhan Gomes McNabb.

Light, according to Siobhan Gomes McNabb, is a misunderstood commodity. It moves from the natural to artificial realms at the flick of a switch and due to the convenience of our modern lifestyles, is often employed one-dimensionally as a means to illumination.

“Thoughtful lighting can communicate the activity, typology and aesthetic nature of a project”, she explains. “It enhances space, darkness, architectural features, elements, textures, colours and communicates the quality of a building.”

An innovative lighting consultant and designer across the hospitality, retail and residential sectors; McNabb initially worked as an architect at Zanghellini Holt Associates in Hong Kong, before a chance meeting in 2000 quickly altered the course of her young career. Excited by the latent talents apparent within her, Jonathan Court of Double Vision Lighting (formerly Linbeck Rausch) convinced McNabb to jump ship with a savvy offer and she soon became a project director at the internationally recognised firm.

Over the next four years, McNabb immersed herself in the city’s rapid business environment, while honing her creative processes along the way. She established commercial insights into the niche industry and “began to truly understand the power of light and its essence not only in architecture, but within our day-to-day lives”.

“My experience working overseas greatly impacted my appreciation of light”, says McNabb. Surrounded by new technologies and expansive budgets, the designer suggests that the Asian market offered elements of inspiration unattainable elsewhere. “I ultimately fell under a spell and realised where my true passion lay.”

In 2004, McNabb returned home to Melbourne and commenced a new consultancy role with Euroluce, where she deftly applied her commercial expertise across a range of projects for more than a decade. And while she worked alongside some of Australia’s finest architects and interior designers, McNabb’s passion for lighting also transpired into editorial work for several publications, along with a position on the board of the Illuminating Engineering Society of Australia and New Zealand.

A holistic practitioner of light, McNabb demonstrates that her skillset is a result of time and wisdom. Recently going solo to establish her own Brisbane-based consultancy and design practice, she is now in a position to provide diverse yet specialised advice not only to creatives and artists; but also to developers, end users and electrical engineers.

This, in many ways, shows that McNabb’s offering is unique from a service standpoint. With an astute understanding of the built environment, she is able to highlight the hidden potentials of light in any context.

“It’s always a missed opportunity when we don’t introduce lighting to enhance our lives”, states McNabb. “It plays such a magical role in our existence and inspires how we see the world.”

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