MUSTAFA SEVEN / SEVEN LIGHTS LIGHTING DESIGNER AND LIGHTING OFFICE

What type of projects do Seven Lights serve?

Even though we have been specialized in master plan projects for historical artifacts and urban lighting throughout the years, we have produced numerous projects for hotels, business centers, shopping malls, hospitals, multi-purpose housing and green area projects, both nationally and internationally, thanks to our professional expertise, cultivation and skills. All these types of projects require a certain level of expertise. Let us remember that lighting technique is not the only thing that changes and evolves day by day. Other disciplines that we work with in projects are also continually developing. Our project meetings, which keep us informed about innovations in architectural materials, developments in mechanics and most importantly fast progresses in automation, contribute us to develop our working techniques in the fast manner.

To summarize, I would like to proudly state that we offer high-quality services in every type of project.

Could you tell us about your profession as architectural lighting designer?

Architectural lighting is essentially the imitation of prominent details of architectural structures – as we perceive them in daylight – with artificial light. It will take too long to explain you all the works so I will summarize under certain topics. First of all, there has to be structure with architectural details. And then, the primary goal is to emphasize architectural details of this structure that needs to be highlighted. There are various techniques in doing this as well as nuances that need to be looked out (or avoided). Homogenous lighting of the entire structure would show the structure in two-dimensions in a non-daylight ambient thus prevents us from obtaining the hierarchy we desire. At this point, the use of lightlessness or shadows are the most frequently applied methods. However, displaying only architectural elements is not enough. Lighting design should tell a story and serve a purpose, which might be drawing attention or sometimes safety, aesthetics, energy productivity etc. As a result of these purposes, that structure needs to be developed with a specific brilliant idea, a wit. While our business is substantially based upon technical know-how, the task to find this very “good idea” corresponds to “design” in professional definition. In this context, I believe that we are different from creators (designers) engaged in different fields. Our super power is the ability to imagine a structure, which we see in daylight, in its illuminated version at night when we close our eyes. Our primary work for this is to have a good and up-to-dated grasp of production of lamps, components, fixtures, automations and peripherals worldwide and to retrieve from our palace of memory those products – components – needed for specific project needs. Roughly, while such kind of a work is conducted on technical side, it is possible to get a wide range of services from lighting design offices from budget control and optimization to product technique controls, from site measurements to current system optimization.

 

What do you recommend to those interested in this profession?

They should train themselves in diverse fields such as museum, retails, photography, tourism, history, architecture, city planning, landscaping, performing arts and newly emerging technologies or at least in their basic dynamics or techniques. Therefore, this is a long process during which only those who cling to their enthusiasm join us as a part of this profession. Being open to new ideas and the ability to cooperate with different disciplines are also the most important requirements.

 

Realistic observation is a must in all branches of designing. And then you should interpret such observations through a creative perspective and use them to attain a result suited for your purpose (i.e. to ensure integration with architectural language, to draw attention, to be determinant, to create a soothing atmosphere, to be sufficiently visible etc.). Sometimes we need to find simple but striking ideas to achieve this. We do our best to reach up to a solution that meets our needs most, amongst numerous solutions leading to the conclusion.

 

Designing is the desire to do what has not been done, as far as I contemplate. Designing is producing new ideas, developing new methods and arousing new feelings. Those, who desire the same, cannot confine their enthusiasm in their professionalism, especially if they also do designing for business. Let me give you a personal example: all my life, I have been interested in non-theme Lego sets, preparing foods and drinks without recipes and in FRP games. When it comes to professionalism, such interest is important yet not sufficient on its own throughout one’s career. Our main duty is to continually read and research to keep up with today’s technology and to follow new products and projects worldwide. And in respect to the aforementioned different disciplines, we consider it necessary to maintain our “freshness” that distinguishes us from other works in projects of different fields to which we always try to adapt ourselves to.

 

How about a comparison between the early and current day of your office?

When I founded Seven Lights in 2005, there was no other illumination designing office in Turkey. Therefore, we broke many new grounds from explaining what architectural illumination is to business methods, and from making room for ourselves amongst many disciplines in the project to defining limits for our relations with lighting manufacturers by not poking around in the dark but trying to see ahead by candlelight. Then, we made great efforts introducing this discipline to students by visiting universities countrywide with my colleagues. I remember explaining to our professional counterparties for hours the advantages of services we offer.

 

Today, even the awareness in illumination designing has much increased compared to those years, volumes of global offices obviously demonstrate that we have a long way to walk. As far as I see, the number of offices that reach up to a certain can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Nevertheless, I have to admit that I feel hopeful about the progress. Architectural illumination accelerates increasingly in parallel with the progress of architecture industry in Turkey. Now, many of our addressees knock on door in demand for such service, which forces us to continually develop ourselves in the level of design. As our customers raise their awareness in the techniques of light and details of fixtures, the doors crack open for more and more top-tier designs.

Customer is not the sole dimension in business, for sure. We, as lighting design offices, also work together to develop our own industry. I have full faith in reaping the fruits of those cooperative works, sooner or later.

 

A word on your opinions about the future of this industry?

I would like to answer this on Turkey basis, if I may. Because when we consider this on world scale, we live in a world where there are 220 lighting design offices in England and 450 in US. These figures are still too thin. If we look on the bright side of things, nearly all of these offices are in Istanbul and are easily adaptive, innovative, dynamic and creative. Again, nearly all of these offices carry out major projects also outside Turkey and some of these offices rapidly develop with their foreign offices in close contacts with international architectural and construction companies. Even if it is obvious that the industry needs more offices and lighting professionals, I believe that design companies in architectural lighting have an open way ahead and we have the human quality to walk this way to great effect.