Lighting Designer Claudia Paz Transforms Public Spaces into Art

(Photo Courtesy of Philips Lumec)

The following blog post was written by Dinorah Wilson from Philips Color Kinetics.

Peruvian lighting designer Claudia Paz shared her insight on the creative process of architectural lighting design during a presentation at Philips Color Kinetics in Burlington, Massachusetts, USA, on September 25, 2014. The renowned lighting designer discussed her key influences and most memorable projects, including her involvement with the recent Banco del Crédito de Peru (BCP) Affinity lighting installation.

Speaking on the relationship between light and architecture, Paz cited her own educational background in architecture as a valuable foundation that ultimately led her to a career in architectural lighting design.

“I love architecture. I love to see buildings and to work with architects,” said Paz. “My approach is to focus on how light can affect great architecture.”

As an alumnus of Universidad Ricardo Palma in Lima, Peru, the award-winning lighting designer originally intended to become an architect. However, Paz revised her career plans after working at a lighting distributor in Peru, where she found controlling light to be more fascinating. Recognizing light’s ability to transform and add emotional depth to spaces, she turned toward lighting design as a way to combine her various skill sets.

Throughout her career, Paz has been fond of using unconventional methods to light public spaces and has enjoyed the rewards yielded from her innovative designs. Fifteen years ago, she initiated a groundbreaking city-wide design project in Lima, Peru, proposing an innovative idea – to use blue light – at a time when only white light illuminated the city’s commercial streets. The project’s success was a personal triumph for the lighting designer, encouraging Paz to continue taking creative risks. From then on, the lighting designer has attempted to incorporate her alternative approach into all of her projects, drawing inspiration from a variety of eclectic sources to inform her artistic vision.

Paz travels the world to find inspiration for her projects, visiting New York City’s Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and London’s museums, for example, to generate ideas. Here she views paintings of cityscapes and visualizes ways to incorporate their elements into possible future projects. Paz’s most personal inspiration is her young daughter, Emma, who goes to each testing of all Paz’s projects. Paz also sees the importance of exchanging ideas with others in the lighting design community and her close confidantes as well as staying updated on the most recent technological trends that could influence her designs. 

Each project holds sentimental value for Paz, who considers the physical realization of her artistic visions to be fulfilling, emotional events.

(Photo credit: Claudia Paz)

Watching the unveiling of one of her projects, a Peruvian historical palace, proved to be one of these rewarding experiences. For the celebration, Paz programmed the lighting to react to music, which steadily intensified to accompany a live orchestra’s crescendo.

“It was perfect. With the first sound of the music and fireworks, I began to cry,” she said of the project. “It was so emotional for me. All the hard work. I have a vision in my mind and when it comes to life and I see it, it is magical.”

She elaborated on another standout project for her – the recently completed BCP Affinity.

(Photo credit-2014 Paz&Cheung)

Producing a lighting design concept for Peru’s most prominent bank that resembled a public art installation – a gift to the people of Lima, rather than a branding initiative – Paz won the approval of BCP board members to create an interactive 3-d façade using the latest color-changing LED lighting technology.

(Photo credit-2014 Paz&Cheung)

Redefining the traditional appearance of bank buildings, Paz’s lighting scheme aimed to impress upon adults the same freedom and curiosity children experience when interacting with light and technology.

(Photo credit-2014 Paz&Cheung)

“I wanted to see in an adult’s eyes the same sparkle you see in a child’s eyes. The joy and wonder of being a child again – having that amazement and imagination,” said Paz, satisfied with the positive reaction of Lima’s city-dwellers to the popular community gathering place for people of all ages.

(Photo credit-2014 Paz&Cheung)

Overall, Paz is grateful for the continuous flow of feedback throughout each part of the creative process. The award-winning designer expressed how crucial having a harmonious relationship with the project’s team is to translating her thoughts and emotions into a tangible display. 

“I think it is important. It has to move my heart,” said Paz of her visionary installations. “If I don’t feel it in my heart, it is not the right decision. So I keep moving until I feel that the design is right and I have the perfect team.”

Understanding that light holds a special significance to people, Paz explained that the possibilities working with light are amazing and endless.

“Light is the link between art, space and architecture,” said Paz. “Light is my passion.”

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