Galina Zbrizher on Lighting Design
May 30, 2014 - 8:35am
Great illumination is essential to a room’s supporting cast, she says.

Zbrizher: My residential design process starts with the owner, since their home reflects their personalities. I start with questions: What do you do at home? How many friends do you have over? How often? Understanding someone’s lifestyle helps to understand their personality.

Second, I look closely at the architecture — their vision for the home, how they intend it to be seen and the feeling you have when inside
or outside of it.

I try not to be heavy-handed — to use lighting as a support for everything else. When lighting is loud, it’s not successful. Good lighting is like a good butler — seen but not heard. You should walk into a space and say, “This is an amazing space.” That’s a testimonial to well-designed lighting. When somebody says, “this is great lighting,” it’s not great. The lighting draws attention to itself, and it shouldn’t.

Lighting design is a little give and take. You can’t see light without architecture; you can’t see architecture without light. So you design those elements in concert. It can be difficult, especially when you’re not on the same page with the architectural design, or the architect is not on the same page with the lighting design. The better the architecture, the easier it is to make the best lighting design and not have the lighting take center stage.

My inspiration comes from travel — seeing different people, different cultures, different projects. I don’t necessarily look at something and anticipate that inspiration will come from it. It’s the unexpected that inspires me the most.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater was the inspiration for the Scarlett Residence in Vancouver. The client is very spiritual. The site has amazing energy. There’s an old ravine, an old culvert and a little island. It’s just lovely and serene. When I saw the architectural drawings, Fallingwater immediately popped into my head.
This home melts into the surroundings and is one with nature, just like Frank Lloyd Wright’s building.

  • Galina Zbrizher’s work for the Scarlett Residence in Vancouver earned Total Lighting Solutions a GE Edison Award. The design illuminates the beautiful architecture without calling attention to itself.
  • Scarlett Residence in Vancouver
  • Scarlett Residence in Vancouver

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