The Puri Lighting Design founder and design director shares insight on her area of expertise and explains why awards platforms are important for designers.

As the female leader of a predominately female team, Hu Fang knows firsthand that the industry needs to achieve greater inclusivity. The founder and design director of Puri Lighting Design, a Beijing-based lighting design company, Fang believes that women designers need ‘more recognition and that there needs to be a fairer competition mechanism within the industry’, an ethos which Frame shares and one which drives our new awards initiative Interiors of the Month.

Our October programme saw the benefit of Fang’s experience and expertise, for which she was one of 15 industry leaders on the jury (who recently named a winning project and four honourable mentions).  She is a Frame Awards winner herself – her work was celebrated earlier this year for Best Use of Light. We spoke with the designer-entrepreneur about the ways in which her area of expertise is evolving, how the relationship between lighting consultants, architects and designers can improve and the value of participating in awards platforms.

There needs to be a fairer competition mechanism within the industry

Lighting is one of the most foundational elements of building an immersive space – immersive and experiential being two of the most desired qualities across interior design at the moment. How have you seen clients’ views on the importance of lighting evolve?

HU FANG: The Chinese really began to pay attention to the light environment at the beginning of this century, when China’s urbanization process started rapidly developing. With the improvement of policies, more and more foreign real estate developers and Hong Kong-funded real estate developers entered mainland China. They brought professional procedures for real estate development. From that time on, real estate developers began to invite comprehensive teams to participate in the construction of a project, of course lighting consultants being no exception.

At first, people's pursuit of lighting only stayed on the level of asking: ‘Is it bright enough?’. People thought that as long as it was, it was good enough. But lifestyle changes brought about greater attention to the ways in which a space’s light environment can affect one’s emotions. This change in the customer's needs triggered a shift in designer’s projects. Accordingly, they paid more and more attention to the sense of space and hierarchy, atmosphere and temperament, instead of just focusing on the illumination. Nowadays, lighting consultants have become an indispensable part of creating a space.

Puri Lighting Design's work for the Guangzhou Road No.1 Courtyard real estate project was celebrated with the Frame Awards 2020 award for Best Use of Light.

What are some of the biggest trends in lighting right now?

With more focus on environmental protection, energy saving has become an important point for owners and designers. The development and utilization of LED light source technology has therefore become the first choice: people no longer blindly pursue brightness, but rather choose the appropriate illuminance for the scene.

We always try to show space and architecture in a way that best fits the aesthetics of modern people. Users’ perception of lighting in space has become more and more colourful: warm yellow is no longer the only option for hotels; shopping malls are full of different tones and more immersive, experiential lighting interactive systems are appearing in people's lives, for example.

The lighting designer is the makeup artist of the space

In past interviews, you’ve expressed that communication between architects, interior designers and lighting designers can be challenging. How do you believe this can improve?

The lighting designer is the makeup artist of the space. We first need to read and understand the design theme of the architect and interior designer, then raise proposals to continue it. Lighting designers must have high-level and comprehensive professional knowledge and should understand materials as well as nodes of construction technology. Only with discourse, sufficient insight and a precise interpretation of the purpose of the space can solutions be found to create first-class works together with architects and designers.

You won a Frame Award earlier this year for your lighting solution at the Guangzhou Road No.1 Courtyard real estate project. Why do you believe a platform like Frame Awards is important for designers?

Frame enjoys an important position in the global design world, bringing together high-level designers on an open-communication platform. I think this is inseparable from the scope of this award: innovation, functionality, creativity and sustainability, four points which precisely reflect the themes of current international design trends. It is because of these professional and challenging perspectives that first-class talents are attracted to display their design works on such a platform. Expressing one's own design concept is crucial for a designer, so that we can be seen and paid attention to. At the same time, it is a good opportunity to learn. I hope that the COVID-19 crisis will end soon: I look forward to reuniting with these talented designers.

Register for today’s live judging session, where Fang and fellow October jury members will share key insights about the month’s submissions and winner, here.

Hero Image: Hu Fang (right) was awarded with the Best Use of Light at the Frame Awards 2020 ceremony, in February 2020. Photo: Almicheal Fraay