Admir Jukanovic, lighting designer
Admir works for lighting design company Mindseye. He works with architects and interior designers to enhance interior spaces with light.
I originate from Stuttgart, Germany. I'm now based in London.
What job do you do?
We pay interns at Mindseye because we appreciate the value of work.
I’m senior lighting design associate for Mindseye Lighting.
We’re an independent lighting consultancy. Our work involves collaborating with architects and interior designers to create effective lighting for buildings.
We do all sorts of lighting projects for commercial properties. Previous projects have been as diverse as the Barbican Arts Centre, HSBC Hong Kong and Macy’s New York.
How did you get started in design?
I’ve always loved to be creative and play around with objects.
At secondary school in Germany I was encouraged to go down the technical route, even though I was more interested in creative design. This was still very helpful, as I covered areas such as product design, engineering, electricity and welding.
Before going to university I did an internship. I already had skills in design software, such as Photoshop, so I had something to offer, despite being young.
I was also awarded a week-long design opportunity in France, which was key for getting me into design. During this time I worked with famous designers and met people who spoke different languages. I realised that learning languages and travelling can open doors for your career.
This global outlook stayed with me while I was studying for a degree in Product Design. It encouraged me to do a study exchange to places like South America. I was stuck with people who didn’t speak my languages, forcing me to be proactive – it was one of the best experiences that I could have had!
After graduating, I did a formal internship as a product designer with a lighting manufacturing firm. This was followed by a period of freelance work. But it was difficult to make ends meet, and I had to do other work on the side.
After two years I was ready to take the next step, and enrolled in a Masters course in London.
What qualifications do you have?
I graduated in Product Design at the Design University Schwaebisch Gmuend, Germany, in 2000. I was awarded the Fulbright Scholarship, allowing me to study and work in Carracas, Venezuela and San Francisco.
Each project is a different challenge, coming with new architects, designers and spaces.
In 2002-04, I did a Masters in Design Products at the Royal College of Art, London.
I also have a CLTAD teaching certificate, so I can lecture on design topics at universities.
Having travelled so much, I speak German, Bosnian, Spanish and English.
What do you do at work?
My job involves collaborating with architects and interior designers to enhance interior design with light.
Architects need us to make the lighting in a space look effective both day and night. This can mean also sorts of things depending on the project. Sometimes they want lighting to be discrete, other times they want something spectacular!
The lighting design process involves the following steps:
- The client gives us their first designs of what the space should look like on file.
- We import the file and digitally add luminaires (light fittings).
- We the create a ‘concept document’ about the space’s lighting design, which we present to the client.
- This is then further refined, and we produce final technical drawings.
- We visit the space as it is being constructed and help make the designs a reality.
- We help to ‘set the scene’, using methods such as dim or bright lighting to define the mood of the space.
What's the best thing about your job?
It’s never boring. Each project is a different challenge, coming with new architects and designers, and new spaces. It’s thrilling – the day can never be long enough.
And the worst thing about the job?
It’s difficult when a client doesn’t see our advice through. Sometime they come to us for a consultation, but don’t get us on board to implement our concepts.
The space ends up not looking as good as it could because they don’t have an understanding of how to use luminaires, colour temperatures, etc.
How can I get into design?
My tips are:
1. Internships are very important
I did one even before starting university. But I do recommended looking for paid internships. We pay interns at Mindseye because we appreciate the value of work.
2. Don't let rejection put you off
Don’t be put off if you don’t get into your first choice university. It probably wasn't the right one for you. One university should never decide your destiny.
3. Consider different routes in
There’s no ‘normal’ way to get design jobs. For some people it’s direct, for others it’s trial and error. Be open to other further education routes, such as apprenticeships.