Firstly, congratulations on the GE Edison Award 2010, the IALD Award 2011 and the German Lighting Design Prize 2011, awarded for the first time this year. You submitted eight projects in five out of nine categories for this. Were you largely able to realise these projects with standard lighting or did you develop custom lighting?
Andreas Schulz:I don’t much like the term custom lighting. I would prefer, if we could, to talk about special configurations. To a client the term custom lighting often sounds like it means extraexpensive. But that is not necessarily the case at all. Also the term is frequently associated with decorative luminaires, which we do not favour at all in our office. We are very rational and see light as an integral part of architecture which frequently needs to be adapted. We respond to this with modifications of standard lighting, if possible. If the situation requires it, as for instance in the Domforum in Cologne, we will also develop individual lighting.

What kinds of situations challenge you to design “special configurations”?
Andreas Schulz: The Domforum in Cologne that I already mentioned is a good example. We had a wide range of tasks to carry out. We had to, and wanted to, give consideration to the monument conservation requirements for the building, we had various specifications to fulfil with regard to light quality and, finally, we wanted to create a variety of lighting moods. Lectures and exhibitions are held in the Forum and these require a different light to pastoral discussions and religious ceremonies. We could, of course, have achieved the different lighting situations using standard lighting. However, we would then have needed five or six different types of luminaires.

You spoke of the monument conservation requirements. How can we picture this in terms of the lighting technology?
Andreas Schulz: Under Fritz Schaller, who built the building that is currently under monument conservationback in 1954 for the Bank für Gemeinwirtschaft, diffuser luminaires flush-mounted into an acoustic ceiling were used in the foyer, the present-day Domforum. These were then replaced over time with simple linear luminaires. As the architectural culture of the overall redesign by Martini Architekten focussed on the broad restoration of the historical substance, we also wanted to capture the original state with the lighting.

But the Domforum is really modern and pristine since the renovation.
Andreas Schulz: I would prefer to talk about a restoration. There hasn’t been a renovation. The real accomplishment is that Fritz Schaller already understood 57 years ago how to create transparency and width. He was ahead of his time in this regard. Of course, Martini Architekten were guided by contemporary expectations of aesthetics and function in respect of the interior design. Therefore, we designed luminaires which formally bridge the historical architecture and modern interior design. Following Fritz Schaller’s example, the recessed luminaire is flush-mounted into the ceiling and is also reminiscent of the earlier diffuser luminaire in terms of shape. Functionally, we have set about addressing the diverse requirements already alluded to. We have developed what could be described as a hybrid luminaire with diffuse and directional light, which can be programmed to adapt to all kinds of illumination requirements.

Can you describe this luminaire?
Andreas Schulz: The custom design uses two different types of luminaires and illuminants at the same time – two energy-saving T5 fluorescent lamps, each 24W, which are concealed behind a 10-mm thick satinised acrylic cover and provide diffuse light for general lighting and two gimbalmounted lighting units for directional light. We designed these lighting units, made up of adjustable spotlights and QR111 60W IRC lowvoltage halogen lamps, with RSL as cylinder elements. They pierce the lower acrylic lamp disc, but are practically invisible from most perspectives. The jointing between the individual acrylic components is so accurate that the effect of the luminaire is that of a uniform, cast shape.

A combination of general lighting and accent lighting. That’s clear. But how can you create different lighting moods with this?
Andreas Schulz: The key is the ways in which the basic lighting can be combined with the direct lighting. Both light components can be switched on and off and dimmed in unison or separately using a 1-10V interface. Once scenarios are programmed in the application, they can be modified via a central lighting control system according to individual requirements also.

What kind of set-up does a manufacturer of custom luminaires need in order to be in a position to construct designs for you that sound so complicated?
Andreas Schulz: The most important thing is excellent machinery, as without that nothing is possible. And on the software side, technical expertise, of course. The overall quality and workmanship, which must meet the high demands of our office one hundred percent, depend on this combination. And finally, smooth intercommunication is a must.

Do you need to work hard to persuade clients when it comes to special configurations? After all, they are definitely much more expensive than standard lighting.
Andreas Schulz: You cannot generalise about that. That was the case in the past as each individual part was produced by hand. But take a look at the ultramodern CNC machines at RSL. A program is written and the machine is then able to throw out a wide range of ready-made sheet metal parts.

A well-known colleague once said in an interview that it was a retrograde step to design a new light for each project and that the new light is in addition often technically much poorer. What is your view on this?
Andreas Schulz: I cannot support that. With us, a special configuration tends to be technically better, rather than worse, in comparison with series lighting. Unlike lighting manufacturers, we oversee each project including start-up, where the true quality of a luminaire becomes apparent. Licht Kunst Licht has realised around 450 projects in twenty years. You can probably imagine the wealth of experience we have gained in practice. And I absolutely cannot join in labelling it a retrograde step. A special configuration can be exceptionally progressive. This is evident not least when it is included later on in the standard range of a manufacturer.

Mr. Schulz, thank you for letting me interview you.

Petra Lasar