Written Interview_ Isabelle Corten

Written interview between MJPintoCoelho,  President of LabLD, e Isabel Corten, President of LSF http://www.concepteurslumieresansfrontieres.org, co-founder of http://sociallightmovement.com and Director of Radiance35 a lighting designer agency http://www.radiance35.eu


Formação LSF em Port-au Prince, 2016.

LabLD. What makes you happier about helping local communities which are deprived of kind of technology and some even without electricity at all ?

Isabelle Corten. I think that the right word is not helping but understanding (the context and the needs) and transmitting (our knowledge). I’m involved in 2 associations working on that field : Concepteurs Lumière Sans Frontières and the Social Light Movement.

“Concepteurs Lumière Sans Frontières” (LSF, Lighting Designers Without Borders) is a Paris-based humanitarian organization founded in 2007. It comprises over 50 members worldwide including designers, engineers, manufacturers and other lighting professionals. LSF’s mission is to transfer professional skills and knowledge to stakeholders and constituencies who cannot afford lighting design services or education.

LSF has realized a number of projects to date: in Bamako, Mali, (2008- 2010); in Amathole, South Africa, (2010- 2013); and in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

His mission is to transfer professional skills and knowledge to stakeholders and constituencies who cannot afford lighting design services or education. In Haiti, we had constructed a long process (since 2010, after the Earthquick) of cooperation with a local association called “Fokal” (Fondation Connaissance et Liberté).

We work there (a team of LSF = Nathalie Rozot, Raphael Girouard, Nicolas Frapolli and myself), on different types of projects (Gingerbread patrimonial houses in the center of Port-au-Prince but also a depraved neighborhood in the outdoor of the city, called the “Quartier de Martissant”).

We had time to develop a strong methodology to implement this process of education.One of the key of this project is to implement strategies to be sure that the realization will be sustainable (in a way of inhabitants appropriation and technical strongness).

The Social light Movement is a London based organization founded in 2012. It comprises over 6 members and a lot of “followers”. His mission is to educate professionals and students to “social light problematic” but also to convince public and/or private investors to invest in neglected areas.

We work trough the methodology of 4-5 days workshop and have already done it in a lot of places; (Liège , Stockholm, London, São Paulo, Mascate, Roma, etc. and in October 2017, will be the next one in Paris, just before PLDC). Some are made in partnership with LSE (London School of Economics).

So, what makes me happy is… to construct this social interaction with the people (inhabitants and participants) and to see that this transmission, step by step, works. Finally, at the end, we began to be useless !

By the way, I think that this purpose of “knowledge transmission” should guide each of us…what I’m doing also in my every day work within Radiance35.


Ensaios nos «corredores» de Martissant, Port au Prince, 2016

LabLD. How important was the international year of light 2015 for the kind of projects LSF promotes?

IC. Unfortunately, it hasn’t much effect on the projects of LSF. But I saw different activities that could have been interesting for us. Just a question of not enough time… The members that are involved in the projects of LSF are so busy on their mission that it makes sometimes difficult to do other thing. But I think that for the next year (day of year of light) we could form a “LSF_Year(day) of light group”, taking time to think how we could spread the word of our actions through this events and make stronger the “social light projects” !

LabLD. Having the UNESCO decided to made a Proposal for the proclamation of an International Day of Light we might think that is to little for all the work lighting industry and lighting designers have been, spontaneously doing and at their own costs. Could you comment?

IC. I must admit that I’m not very convinced about the power of “international days or years”, even if I understand the symbol … But, in another way, I think that one day could be stronger than one year… It could be an opportunity to be stronger in our claims, and to be more effective.


Workshop SLM-São Paulo, 2015

LabLD. So much money is spent in annual lighting conventions and conferences all over Europe. What do we, as lighting designers, need to improve or propose to the industry market and/or clients in order to get more assertive results from all these efforts?

IC. Maybe could we suggest to reduce the numbers and to gather some conferences on specific themes ? But I think also that there is so many different facets of our work of lighting designers, that it helps to talk in many conferences.

The power of speaking (in conference or in a class) is, for me, stronger than any other medium. I’m convince that if you reach to interest at least one person to move their way of thinking during a conference, you have reach your goal !

LabLD. Please, start the last sentence with The FUTURE IS NOW… followed by a final statement.

IC. The FUTURE IS NOW to take some pleasure in what we do !

August, 2017