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Exploring lighting and human emotions (Chaos Campus Live Show Episode 4 Recap)

Want to know what a career in lighting is like? We put the spotlight on lighting designer Katia Kolovea, who gives us the scoop on her professional journey. 

Lighting is all around us. From the morning sunlight that peers through our curtains, to the flashing neon colors pulsing onstage to the rhythm of our favorite song. It’s time we become more aware and take the time to explore the various forms of light in our day-to-day lives and how they influence our behavior and emotions. 


In the fourth episode of Chaos Campus Live, lighting expert and Archifos founder Katia Kolovea shares what sparked her passion for lighting, the meaningful projects she’s working on, and how she prevents burnout. 

If you want to watch the entire show and jump into the conversation, make sure you join the Chaos Campus online community! Chaos Campus is continuing to grow with inspiring artists in the archviz and VFX industries eager to learn from each other and share their experience and know-how. 

Tell us about your creative journey and how you got started with lighting.

For as long as I remember, I was always mesmerized by the golden colors of sunsets. I always loved the sun, always chased the sunset, and all of that. But artificial light wasn't really something I was interested in.

As I was growing up, I knew that I wanted to be a designer or work in architecture, but I never knew that lighting design was an actual profession. I studied in Athens and graduated with a bachelor's degree in interior architecture. During my studies, I also had the opportunity to go take part in the Erasmus program in Madrid, and it was there that I first found out about lighting.

Katia Kolovea, Lighting Designer, Archifos


When did your curiosity about the profession evolve into something more?

After Erasmus, I went back to Athens and, in 2013, I attended an amazing conference called Urban Light Escapes. It was very diverse. There were many professionals in the lighting industry, not only in architectural lighting, but street lighting, theater, healthcare, and so on. At that moment, it hit me that lighting is an actual profession and I want to learn more about it.

How did you get your first internship?

I went back to my studies after the Erasmus and I had to do an internship. I went to Barcelona this time. I was super lucky because I had zero knowledge of lighting, but I got accepted to intern at BMLT Lighting Design, and they gave me the opportunity to join their world without having knowledge of lighting. 

It was amazing from the perspective that I realized that this is a profession and one that really fits my interests. And then I decided that I have to study this. I knew then that this was going to be my profession.

What did your master's focus on?

I got accepted to complete my master's at KTH, in Sweden, and went to Spain, and then Sweden. And that is where everything came together.

One of my courses focused on outdoor lighting and they gave us the opportunity to participate in a festival. We created a very engaging and interactive installation, with very simple saddles, and RGB lights. People ended up playing with the saddles, and being an observer outside of the installation, looking at kids, young adults, the elderly interacting and playing with their saddles, and trying to explore the space around them, was really delightful.

It was at that moment that I realized that I don't want to be doing lighting design for interior spaces. I want to be doing anything that uses light as a medium to inspire people, let them feel something, any kind of emotion, not only the good ones. I wanted to start using light as a tool to create stories.

Katia Kolovea, Lighting Designer, Archifos



How did you land your first job?

I was very excited to find a job in London. And that is where my professional journey began in early 2018, at Light Electric. We were working with several brands, doing ephemeral installations for big fashion brands like Dior and Adidas. We also had a project with Instagram. I found my magic place at Light Electric because it was really combining light to enhance the human experience while communicating messages and evoking emotions in people. In the meantime, I got involved with Women in Lighting, which is a project that is all about community and communication. That project will help you understand why I'm doing what I'm doing today. 

What inspired you to start your own business?

I felt like I needed to start my own business as a designer as I’ve always collaborated with brands and designers that do lighting design. But in my business, I also bring another element, the more personal part, in which I educate people, I connect with God and unique girls through Women in Lighting, as well as experts from different industries. I look to inspire other professionals in what they do, and it doesn't always need to be connected to light. This is where I slowly discover, where I'm 100% me. 

We lead events, and create lighting design and immersive experiences, light art, and other creative projects, including architectural lighting design projects. The other half of my business is all about communication strategies. I help businesses by supporting them to communicate their message clearly to their audience.


Is there a particular project of yours you are proud of?

The one that I will pick is the educational platform, The Lighting Police. This is a very important project that’s close to my heart. It's a project that I co-founded a few years ago in London.  

The Lighting Police is a platform with a mission to raise awareness about the importance of the right light to the general public. It excludes lighting professionals that can appreciate and understand the importance of the right light, but rather it’s a community of regular people, their families, and their friends.

Katia Kolovea, Lighting Designer, Archifos


It's very important for me to talk with people about things like being in a restaurant with very warm light and feeling cozy and relaxed, versus being in a fast food restaurant where the light is very bright and might even give you a headache when you get back home. This platform is all about raising awareness, and starting conversations, and it's all really fun. 

This is a growing project and I'm really proud of it. Obviously, I'm not doing it alone. I have a fantastic team, the curation team. And all of us are meeting regularly to create the content, while consulting with the advisory board which are global experts in the lighting industry, who give us guidance, provide valuable information, and check what we are saying. 

How do you deal with burnout?

Let's start with the fact that I started my business just before the pandemic. So the timing was a downside, but what also happened was that all of a sudden, I had all the time in the world to be in front of my computer for many hours doing seminars, talking with creatives, getting new ideas, pitching my services, building a business, and so on. 

And then the moment comes that you don't understand how much you need to just take a step back to reflect and enjoy life. I have come very close to burnout many times, but I wouldn't say I have burned out fully. Burnout has multiple symptoms and reasons. And it can be a very small or a very big thing. I appreciate that we're in the design industry, which is very stressful and we have to constantly deliver new projects.

Today, I feel more balanced than ever. The trick is that you need to find a balance between your work and recharging your creative batteries. And this is super important. I think that we should be grateful for the fact that we love our jobs. But we must try to find balance and disconnect through exercise or spending time with friends and family. We are not our job. We are people who need time off to recharge.

Katia Kolovea, Lighting Designer, Archifos

The principles of architectural lighting and immersive experiences

Wrapping up the Chaos Campus Live episode, Katia shared an insightful presentation on the different categories of lighting and how they evoke various human emotions and activate our senses. To watch the entire episode, join Chaos Campus, and engage with other creatives while exploring the exciting world of 3D.

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