Corona Interview Series #5: Ting Ji

London based freelance lighting designer, Ting Ji has a wealth of experience as in both Germany and the UK, having worked with studios such as Lichtvision and Speirs + Major before recently beginning to work as a freelance designer.

Unfortunately, the current Corona crisis is hitting freelance designers such as Ting especially hard. Although Ting’s current professional situation is somewhat uncertain, her ideas with regards to encouraging progression within the lighting profession are, as always, nothing short of inspirational. Moreover, they serve as a reminder that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Ting, how is your current work situation looking?

As a freelance lighting designer, all lighting related work has come to a sudden pause. I can’t see any work coming in for the near future. As a result, at the moment i’m taking the opportunity to do more reading and writing.

Are you able to take advantage of any governmental aid?

Not yet. I’m quite new to freelancing. The UK’s current support package for self-employed doesn’t cover people established after April 2019.

How long do you expect the crisis to last?

2-3 months at least. Perhaps in summer the situation will get better. At least by that time we will pass the panic mode and be able to figure out a way to carry on.

Do you think we see a permanent shift in our attitude towards business travel?

I would expect less business travel and more business meetings held via video conference. After weeks of remote working, we will all be Pros at VC software and truly appreciate its value. I think the last hesitance of adapting VC into business will be cleared out.

What about trade shows, will there still be a place for trade shows in the post corona future?

I think there will be still places for trade shows. Light is not something that can really be presented solely online and designers do need to see and test the products physically. Perhaps manufacturers will put forward a combination of online + offline presentation. I heard some car companies started to explore online showrooms to replace traditional dealers. Customers can see all the features of their car in a virtue showroom, and order the test drive locally. That sounds super exciting.

Perhaps there could be more regional shows, mini shows everywhere all the time, instead of one mega international show every two years. We start to see more lighting fairs in other parts of the world. This pandemic might accelerate the process.

We’ve seen a decrease in emissions by as much as 25% in some areas in the last few weeks – a positive side effect of the crisis. How can the lighting industry contribute to a permanent reduction in emissions in the future?

Travelling less and holding more VCs will reduce a project’s carbon footprint. Also lighting studios could encourage more flexible working so designers don’t have to travel everyday. I think we are one of the few industries that are still quite resistant to remote working. Hopefully this enforced remote working period can pave away any doubts.

How can the lighting designer help in the current crisis?

The lighting profession has done excellent work in bringing quality light to offices and public buildings, but not much in residential homes (except some luxury ones).

Now people have to work and spend a lot of time at home, where the lighting is often dominated by simple ceiling pendants and desk lamps. Could we do something to help? Maybe lighting controls could be more affordable? Maybe professional lighting equipment could be less complicated to install? Maybe we could change our way of working and educate the market a bit more so design services are more accessible to homeowners?

I think now it is a good chance to look at what we have achieved as a profession and what is still left to do.

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