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Devoted gamer channels passion into award-winning arcade lighting design

Casey Hine, an interior design student at Ringling College of Art and Design in Florida, won a 2018 SOURCE Award for his lighting design project, Acclaim Arcade. The fictional arcade strives to deliver a fun, interactive, immersive and dynamic gaming experience.   

Eaton’s Lighting Division talked with Hine about the inspiration for his arcade lighting design, what led him to major in interior design and his advice for others interested in the field. 

What was it like winning a SOURCE Award?

CH: I was surprised and humbled when I won, because everyone’s work is fantastic. This is the first time I’ve been recognized on this scale, and it makes me proud. The project also opened my eyes to the impact of great lighting design. 

Tell us about your award-winning lighting design. 

CH: I have a strong affinity for video games and the gaming community. In my childhood, arcades were a lot more common. But arcades started to disappear with the advent of online, multiplayer games, meaning a whole community disappeared, too.

I think creative interior spaces with strong lighting design could really help revive that community and bring back the wholesome feel of a more personal gaming experience.

CH: People in the traditional gaming community are generally not the most comfortable in social situations, and lighting could be a great way to encourage them to interact with others. I wanted my arcade lighting design to help create a dynamic and immersive space that also encourages a competitive atmosphere and long-lasting memories for the users as well as revenue for the owner. 

I love the application of design as much as the conceptualization, and Eaton’s SOURCE Awards gave me a chance to do that.

What inspired you to pursue your field of study? Do you specialize in a particular area?

CH: This year, I attended an American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) event, where one of the speakers said the lucky ones need at least 20 years to discover what they want to do for the rest of their life. I’m still learning, so that resonated with me. 

I played a lot of video games as a child and still do. In fact, until recently, I wanted to be a video game designer. But when I took game design courses at Ringling College of Art and Design, I didn’t like them at all. Our professors give us a taste of everything, and I really gravitated toward my interior design courses. 

What role does lighting play in design? How does it transform a space? 

CH: During my junior year, I had a professor who really opened my eyes to the importance of lighting. Interior design is about more than painting the walls and choosing the furniture. Effective designers think about the space as a whole and create an experience.

Lighting can completely change people’s mood and affect them on a subconscious level. Designers who ignore lighting limit themselves to one plane — the floor. While ceiling design and lighting design intimidated me at first, I realized looking to the ceiling creates possibilities that aren’t available on the floor. That other plane offers so much more freedom, and people who fear it are missing an opportunity.

How has winning a SOURCE Award changed your future plans? What's next for you? 

CH: Working on this and other lighting projects helped me discover a love for working with lighting design and ceiling plans. Lighting is quickly becoming one of the most important parts of design for me, and I look forward to using it in my career.

Winning a SOURCE Award changed me, too. While I’ll definitely use it to market myself, it’s also given me a lot of confidence as a designer. Without it, I may have stayed in my shell, limiting myself to that bottom plane of space.

Meanwhile, I’d also love to help revive the arcade community. I’m still holding out hope that an arcade will pop up in the town where I was raised in New York.   

No matter what, I know that the real world will be different from my school experience, and I can’t wait to take that next step. 

What would you tell someone pursuing interior design and aspiring to win a SOURCE Award?

CH: The first time you walk into a lighting lecture, you may think it’s completely outside of your scope. But don’t be afraid of it. Tackling a whole new dimension may seem like a Herculean task in the beginning, but if you ignore it, you’ll really be missing out. 

It’s also important to avoid getting caught up in technicalities. Give yourself a chance to play with ideas and ride with the concepts that pop into your head. Even if you have a sensational idea, try to make it work. While you have to keep things real, there’s nothing wrong with aiming for that “wow” moment, too. That’s how you can turn ordinary spaces into something extraordinary.