Interview with Huai Chun Liu of Atelier Lumenplus

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Huai Chun Liu

Huai Chun Liu, a seasoned lighting designer, developed a passion for lighting design at Chung Yuan University. With almost two decades of experience, she co-founded a successful lighting design atelier and remain committed to their craft.

Interview With The 2023 MUSE Design Awards Winner – Huai Chun Liu

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your design background.

I'm Huai Chun Liu, a seasoned lighting designer with a diverse journey in the field. My passion for lighting design began at Chung Yuan University, where I earned my bachelor's degree in interior design. Following my graduation, I serendipitously found myself working at a lighting design company.

My career then took me to Europe, where I embarked on a transformative gap year. Upon my return to my country, I joined another prestigious lighting design firm. Over the years, I honed my skills and expertise, eventually partnering with a colleague to establish our own successful lighting design atelier. With nearly two decades of experience in the industry, I am proud of my enduring commitment to the art of lighting design.

2What made you become/why did you choose to become a designer/artist?

My grandfather, an enthusiastic amateur Chinese painter, had a big influence on my early artistic interests. When I was a little kid, I used to tag along with him to important calligraphy and painting exhibitions. I even had fun scribbling with his brushes, which laid the groundwork for my love of artistic design.

However, when it came time for college, I made a more practical choice. Instead of heading to the art department, I chose the design department. My decision was driven by my somewhat down-to-earth personality, favoring a structured and pragmatic approach to creativity.

Following my university graduation, my initial career aspiration was in window display design. Believing that lighting played a pivotal role in this field, I decided to kickstart my journey by joining a lighting design company, where I could gain valuable experience and knowledge.

After several years of dedicated work, I found myself at a crossroads, seeking clarity. In pursuit of this, I embarked on a transformative year in Europe. During my time there, I explored major cities and attended various exhibitions. It was during these experiences that I realized my unwavering fascination with lights. This profound realization reaffirmed my deep passion for lighting, prompting me to decisively continue my career within the lighting design industry.

3Tell us more about your business/company, job profile, and what you do.
Atelier Lumenplus is a lighting design consultancy that was founded in 2019. Our experienced designers provide professional lighting design services of interior, architecture, landscape, and customized luminaire design. We are a customer focused, innovative solution-driven company. Dedicated investment and attention to detail from concept to final stage is the consistent attitude we have always kept in mind.
4What does “design” mean to you?

Design is not just about dreaming up ideas and sketching out plans. To turn a vision into reality, you need to set clear goals and create a solid roadmap to get there. It's a blend of both creative imagination and rational execution, and you can't do without either.

When it comes to beauty, it's what you see on the surface. Striking the perfect balance between emotions and practicality, it's the art of harmonizing sensibility and logic. The end result is all about the captivating effects and atmosphere born from the dance between these two essential elements.

5What’s your favorite kind of design and why?
Lighting design is an application art of light, an art that connects light with life and its environment. How light produced is physics, what we see is physiology, and how we feel the environment we see is psychology. There are so many different layers and aspects encompassed to the intangible and illusive light, and that’s why lighting design is so fascinating and engaging.
6To you, what makes a “good” design?
Outstanding design, no matter its form or size, has the ability to authentically express inner feelings, infuse an artistic touch into the design, bring visual and emotional connections to life, and boost the positive interaction between light and our daily lives.
7Describe your design style and its main characteristics.

Human perception lies at the heart of our design philosophy. Through close collaboration with clients, architects, and interior designers, we craft space aesthetics and lighting effects to cater to individual needs. Each project becomes a canvas where we accentuate its unique qualities and shape the ambiance with a meticulous equilibrium of emotional resonance and practicality.

Imagine a light as exquisite as jade, radiant with its warm luster. In each project, we deliver a distinctive and refined interplay of light and shadow, akin to the elegance of this precious stone, ensuring a unique and fitting visual experience.

8Tell us about your design process.

Lighting design is an integral part of the ecosystem within interior, architectural, and landscape settings. Our process begins by immersing ourselves in the space's unique conditions and design ethos. After a thorough understanding and thoughtful contemplation, we cultivate the essence of our lighting design concept.

This involves crafting a holistic vision of the lighting environment, carefully harmonizing multiple factors and making judicious selections to bring it to life through the most fitting and precise lighting techniques.

9Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your design process?
In our country, we've embraced a medley of foreign cultures over the years. This unique history has given us a knack for being open-minded and flexible, which, in turn, fuels our boundless creativity in design. With no creative boundaries, we love to roll up our sleeves and explore fresh methods, cooking up imaginative solutions that perfectly fit each project's unique background.
10Congratulations! As the winner of the 2023 MUSE Design Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?
Winning the 2023 MUSE Design Awards is a deeply meaningful achievement for our team. It serves as a testament to the notion that with unwavering dedication and a wholehearted effort, your work will eventually gain the recognition it deserves.
11Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2023 MUSE Design Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

The lighting concept for our country's first synagogue draws its inspiration from the Jewish holiday song, "Banu choshech legaresh" (Song of Hanukkah). At its core, this concept embodies the idea of eternal light. We translated this notion into the very facade of the building, shaping it into the image of a candle flame, serving as a guiding beacon in the darkness. The spirit of eternal light seamlessly weaves through every nook and cranny of the interior.

This unique project beautifully showcases my country’s rich cultural diversity and spirit of tolerance. The simplicity and strength of the lighting concept are woven into every facet of the project, resulting in a well-executed masterpiece. It's this remarkable integration that led us to choose this project as a testament to our design prowess.

12What was the biggest challenge with this project?

The Jewish Taiwan Cultural Association is a remarkable renovation project involving an old building. To breathe life into the façade, we incorporated custom-made low-wattage lamps into the original characteristic windows, effectively conveying the historical and emotional facets of Jewish teachings.

Indoors, we harnessed the essence of eternal faith through meticulous attention to details and the careful selection of unadorned fixture designs, allowing us to encapsulate the rich culture and spiritual essence of the religion. Despite the need for multi-functional usage, we opted for a budget-friendly approach by implementing a switch-based control system. Managing to divide the circuit into 6 zones to cater to various functional requirements proved to be a formidable challenge that we successfully overcame.

13How has winning an Award developed your practice/career?

Our confidence has received a significant boost! As a lighting design company with less than five years of history, our maiden entry into a competition resulted in not just one but double awards. This accomplishment serves as a profound validation, indicating that we are indeed headed in the right direction.

Moving forward, we are even more committed to our mission. We'll double our efforts to craft top-notch lighting environments that enhance our lives with the transformative power of light.

14What are your top three (3) favorite things about our industry?
Beautiful, thoughtful and unique!
15What makes your country specifically, unique in the design industry?

My country is a vibrant, multicultural society, and it's our open-minded, friendly attitude that fuels our dynamism in the design field.

We thrive by embracing the strengths of diverse influences while preserving our unique local characteristics. My country's design industry is all about elegantly expressing this rich tapestry of cultural diversity, turning it into a source of inspiration and innovation.

16Where do you see the evolution of design industry going over the next 5-10 years?

Looking ahead, the design world is gearing up for some exciting shifts. It's not just about fresh creative techniques and styles; artificial intelligence and big data are quietly weaving their way into our lives. There's a chance that computers and machines will start taking on tasks like data collection and generation.

With this data explosion, designers will need to take on a broader role, steering the ship and building deeper collaborations across industries. But one thing's crystal clear - the special spark of a designer's perspective and creativity can't be replicated by machines, and that's something we firmly believe in.

17If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring MUSE Design Awards submitter, what advice would you give them?
Don't fixate too much on the title 'designer' because, unlike artists, designers work within constraints imposed by the environment, functionality, or their specific discipline. Designers aren't solely creators; their mission is to harmonize the requirements of various stakeholders while still infusing their own aesthetic touch. It's all about finding that delicate equilibrium between these constraints and your personal sense of style.
18What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the design industry?
Read beautiful words and see beautiful images, observe more beautiful environments and internalize your own views on beauty. You can also participate in some short-term training to improve design-related skills.
19Tell us something you have never told anyone else.
When you're confused, take a trip. Your heart knows what it craves by what captures your eyes during your travels.
20Who has inspired you in your life and why?

The comic "One Piece" has been a profound source of inspiration, particularly its emphasis on valuing friendships. In the realm of successful design projects, it's important to recognize that credit doesn't belong to the designer alone. The owner's support sets the foundation, while architects and interior designers provide the essential groundwork.

Lighting designers tailor plans to human and environmental needs, and mechanical and electrical consultants contribute their expertise in pipelines and systems. Manufacturers supply high-quality lighting equipment, and on-site crews meticulously execute the design requirements.

21What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?
Design is essentially a problem-solving method, and the journey can be quite challenging. It requires strong communication skills, the ability to preserve your creative spirit within various constraints, and striking a delicate balance between practicality and aesthetics. Achieving this balance is no small feat, and we've been diligently striving to stay on this path.
22Do you have anything else you would like to add to the interview?
For all future design projects, our vision is that the lighting will be harmonious and elegant when viewed on-site. Whether taken by a professional photographer or by the general public on their mobile phones, the performance of the photos will be undeniably beautiful.

Winning Entry

Eternal Light / Jewish Taiwan Community Center | 2023

Eternal Light / Jewish Taiwan Community Center | Huai Chun Liu

Eternal Light. Jewish Taiwan Cultural Association is the first synagogue in Taiwan. The concept of lighting …
(Read more at MUSE Design Awards)

Huai Chun Liu 

Huai Chun Liu, a seasoned lighting designer, developed a passion for lighting design at Chung Yuan University. With almost two decades of experience, she co-founded a successful lighting design atelier and remain committed to their craft.

Read more about this interview with I-Wen Chien of Gukang Co.,Ltd, the Gold Winner of the 2023 MUSE Design Awards.