Meet Matthew Johnson

Why lighting?

By the end of my degree in industrial design, I’d established an interest in interactive technologies. This included interactions between humans and technologies that especially related to audio visual content – think music controllers, sensor-driven installations, projection mapping, stage lighting and lasers.

I had a passion for live music, light-shows and new technologies, including virtual reality. This manifested in building devices and software for audio visual performance and several years working with lighting and design projects at music festivals, performance venues and in public art spaces.

After working closely with lighting, and developing a growing passion for public art installation, I decided to pursue architectural lighting to expand my lighting knowledge base, work on diverse projects and bring creative and performative ideas to architectural lighting design.

What do you do outside of work that helps fuel your creativity and commitment to lighting?

Having spent some time in stage lighting and audio visual performance, I still get a kick out of helping on events and performances or lighting installations. This is a fun way to experiment with lighting techniques and maintain performative and installation skills.

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned at NDYLIGHT?

The most important skill I’ve been developing at NDYLIGHT is how to work actively across multiple projects that have different approaches, are at different stages and have different architects, clients and deadlines.

Projects I’ve worked on in the past have all involved similar techniques or technology so it’s a refreshing challenge to get involved in lots of different types of projects.

What professional relationships do you value the most?

I value relationships from peers and mentors in adjacent industries. I always reach out to those I studied with who are guns in specific software or skills and can help navigate those tricky technical design problems.

It’s great to return the support and see what others are working on. It can be a great way to keep skills up to date that I might not be currently using and stay on top of new technology and best practice.

If you could change one thing about the built environment, what would it be?

I would love to see more interactive technologies in the built environment. There are many low-cost sensors and devices that can transform a simple design with some creative attention. The end result is that users of buildings can have more dynamic and personal interactions with the spaces they use on a daily basis. A further possibility is providing a platform for young digital creatives to get involved in public work and test content or ideas on the built environment in a big and public way.

What does Making Spaces Work mean to you?

Beyond the obvious of providing good functional lighting to spaces for completing tasks, lighting has a big impact on how we experience spaces. Careful consideration to things like light location, colour temperature and many other granular lighting details can dramatically change the ambience and energy or how spaces are used through techniques including wayfinding or motion sensing.

There’s also opportunity to create new memorable experiences by dynamically lighting spaces to create visual landmarks, exciting performative spaces or even informative data driven designs to display things like live occupancy or sustainability measurements. With all this opportunity, it’s important to understand an architect’s intent and the needs of the client to design a space that works towards these goals.