Kim Kang woon has been working as a happy and delightful lighting designer for about 19 years in Korea. He is now the CEO of De&c Design Company.
Kim started his career at an editorial design department of an advertising agency, and changed his occupation as a light designer later. At that time, “lighting designer” was very uncommon in Korea, and the gravity of the light design wasn’t taken serious enough. Being a pioneer of a new field, Kim started to play the role of a background, supporting the whole picture, rather than being too proactive. As the quality of life grew, the importance of lighting was taking its role to play. 2002, Korea vs Japan World Cup was a turning point of this kind of phenomenon.
Alighting Design: How did you get into the lighting industry?
KKW: When I started this job, I did the editorial design at an advertising agency. In the meantime, one of my professors emphasized the importance of designing and learning in the field. He also had an eye for catching what I am good at and said that I have two characteristics such as activeness and calmness. He thought that I would be suitable for designing light because of my characteristics. So I started working in the field of the lighting design thanks to his suggestion in 1996. I was the most timid lighting designer in the construction field at that time. People thought that all a lighting designer had to do was just to demonstrate a simple lighting calculation data. So I had to show people how important the role of lighting design.
Alighting Design: When you started in lighting, was there anydesigner ever making influence on you?
KKW: Mr. Lee who passed away long time ago was a lighting designer in Korea. He did his best to let people know the importance of lighting design in Korea. At that time, Korea had no idea about designing light. Plus, he was the senior designer who stepped in to introduce the visual effect of the lighting design to government offices and construction firms that had not been interested in the importance of it. When I had conversations with him about light, I tried to accept his idea of light. I got to be very aware ofthe importance of increasing and decreasing light. If I have a chance to meet him, I would like to have a heart-to-heart with him about light. I always miss him.
Alighting Design: What fascinates you the most about light?
KKW: I have been interested in art since I was a high school student. At that time, painting was my primary material for drawing but what about now? My job is to paint buildings with LIGHT as a drawing tool. This light is divided into three things such as brightness, beam angle and color temperature according to the kinds of light and can be very changeable depending on what idea the lighting designer has and how he or she designs light. Plus, LIGHT will have various aspects with same light depending on how the lighting designer plans the placement of the light. I also think that LIGHT has the power of affecting people’s feeling. If I, as a lighting designer, made a wrong decision on the placement of light, the light would ruin all of the given space. This is the attractive point of designing light. A painter has various colors of paints and a lighting designer has LIGHT. Whenever I start a new project, I keep the responsibility of light as a lighting designer in mind.
Alighting Design:What is your designphilosophy?
KKW: Korea has the short history of designing light. I believe that developing the field of designing light could be a great asset. But I would like to be honest when it comes to light, I, as a commercial designer controlling light in terms of space, have seen both hope and frustration by light through a lot of direct or indirect projects. Thanks to these experiences, I became awarethat designing light is related to the emotions of people and try to reduce distorting light.
Alighting Design:You have done lighting design for different types of architectures such as station, stadium, apartment, headquarter building, theme park and even an old castle, which do you think you are more adept or interest in? Why?
KKW: Recently, I am interested in designing lighting for sports facilities. While designing light for small sports facilities in the meantime, I designed light for the Gymnastics & Rugby & Badminton & Archery stadiums in the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon. After designing light for those four stadiums, I found out that all of the stadiums have their own concept even though they look similar.