How Workplace Lighting is Changing

Q+A with Lighting Designer Pablo Pardo

by Haworth, Inc.

Pablo Pardo is a Venezuelan-born industrial designer and founder of Pablo Designs in San Francisco. For many years, he has partnered with Haworth to bring his innovative lighting solutions to interiors to ensure every space fulfills its potential and purpose. Practical yet beautiful, his designs are distilled down to their essence, deepening the relationships between objects, their users, and their environments.

Recently, SPARK had an opportunity to meet with Pablo, learn more about his design inspiration, and discuss how lighting is affecting and being affected by changing spaces.

“The entire topology of light is changing. It’s a combination of technology, new materials, the light sources themselves, and changing environments—it all has to be in harmony.”

—Pablo Pardo

SPARK: Why is lighting so important?

PP: I believe that light is a basic necessity for life. It also has a mission to elevate the human experience. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it is about light that makes us feel good, but we know that it has that capacity. For designers, this is the holy grail—designing lighting solutions that make us feel good, that promote well-being, while also allowing us to see our work and to focus.

SPARK: So, you’re saying light serves a functional purpose, but it also has other roles to play?

PP: Yes, light is a tool that can be used in different ways—you can focus light where your work is, or create collaborative zones or an oasis for doing individual work. Light also has the ability to connect all that inhabits a space, from the furniture to the people.

SPARK: Do you ever feel like lighting is an afterthought in the interior design process?

PP: Lighting is often considered later in the process, even though it’s a primary element of an environment. I fully believe it should take a front row seat, because it has the capacity to create harmony between all the elements of a space.

This is particularly an important challenge in the workplace. It’s beginning to change, but there’s a long way to go. The office is learning how to combine artificial and natural light, and how to combine ambient lighting with task lighting, so there’s less need to use constant overhead lighting, which has been a part of offices for many decades now, and uses 50 percent more energy.

SPARK: Besides sustainability issues, are there other ways workplace design is changing in regard to lighting?

PP: The shift toward a more residential feel in the workplace is a tremendous opportunity for lighting, which plays a significant role. Residential lighting has a certain warmth, and floor and table lamps bring a more celebratory feel, compared with the more clinical feel of most task lights. Lighting is a way to introduce beauty and warmth into a space, which is essential.

SPARK: Do you have an example of that changing topology in workplace lighting?

PP: Our Corner Office product combines privacy screens with power and light. It allows you to create a zone for yourself in open spaces, and the panels have acoustical benefits, as well. This is an example of how light is starting to take on a whole new role—it’s about more than just light. This shift is having a very inspirational effect on our design team. When we begin to look at lighting in new and novel ways that respond to how we live and work, and also incorporate the possibilities that come with new technology, we can be transformative about how we view light.

SPARK: You’re so articulate and passionate about what you do and what motivates and inspires you.

PP: I really actually feel it—the transformational power of lighting in a space. It’s always easier to talk about things like utility and functionality, but I’m more interested in that “Holy Grail” of lighting—how does this design or space make me feel?

The best design has a timelessness. When I find myself struggling for inspiration, I look at nature. Everything there has a purpose and has survived the test of time. This is how I approach my designs. When we put something out into the world, it has to be answering a bunch of questions and providing solutions. The by-products are beauty and joy.

“The best design has a timelessness. When I find myself struggling for inspiration, I look at nature. Everything there has a purpose and has survived the test of time.”

—Pablo Pardo

SPARK: “Providing solutions”—that sounds like a philosophy that’s in line with Haworth.

PP: Yes, we share many common values with Haworth—one is that we’re both passionate about creating solutions, whether lighting solutions or workplace solutions. Focusing on solutions opens up the possibilities and allows us to think outside of existing categories and create new categories.


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