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Interior design student’s boutique hotel lighting design wins SOURCE Award

Gericel De Los Santos, a senior interior design student at Ringling College of Art and Design in Florida, won a 2018 SOURCE Award for her lighting design project, The Winter Escape, a fictional boutique hotel located in Yellowknife, Canada.

Eaton’s Lighting Division talked with De Los Santos to learn more about her award-winning hotel lighting design, what moved her to study interior design and her advice for younger students interested in an interior design career.

Tell us about your award-winning hotel lighting design.

Nature inspires most of my designs. I’ve always been fascinated by the auroras, or the northern lights, which are sometimes visible in the sky in high-latitude regions.

The Winter Escape is a boutique hotel located in an extremely cold region of Canada — in fact, it’s one of the coldest places on Earth. I wanted to create a space that allows people to experience the auroras from the warmth and comfort of a hotel.

Blending the concept of darkness with natural bursts of light, I worked with a dark color palette to signify the area’s dark skies. My lighting design incorporated light sculptures to represent the northern lights. I also included daylighting strategies, with curtain walls shaping rooms so that guests could enjoy the natural beauty of Yellowknife, Canada.

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

Lighting makes a huge difference. While completing my entry, I attended several lectures to learn how proper lighting can affect a space. Lighting is everything, so I was surprised to learn that a lot of designers don’t put much thought into the ceiling of a space. Warm or cool lighting can really change a person’s mood, and because of its impact on the circadian rhythm, lighting can affect health. It’s also important to think about how to incorporate a sustainable solution like LED lighting into spaces.

What inspired you to pursue a career in interior design?

I have wanted to be an interior designer since my junior year of high school, when I did an internship with an interior design firm in New York City.

Before that, I did a good deal of research, from taking personality quizzes to Googling ideas. During one of my internet searches, I came across an article on interior design, and suddenly, I understood my path just as if I was watching my whole life in reverse. I grew up watching my mom remodel our house, and I even downloaded software that allowed me to create houses for fun. I was so thankful to learn that I could actually turn my hobby into a career!

Did winning a SOURCE Award affect your plans for the future? What’s next for you?

Definitely. If nothing else, it reassured me that interior design is the right choice for me — but it also helped me realize the importance of lighting design. Because winners receive a trip to LIGHTFAIR, I had an opportunity to see many different types of lights in person. I know that to be successful, I’ll have to take a careful, detailed approach to lighting in all of my designs.

I grew up in New York City, but I think I’d like to move to Miami after graduation. I was born in the Dominican Republic, and I miss the warm weather!

Do you have advice for other students interested in lighting design or interior design?

The next class of juniors at Ringling College of Art and Design will compete in the SOURCE Awards, and I’m excited to help guide them. During the SOURCE Awards ceremony this spring, the judges shared more thoughts about the winning projects. The whole time, I made mental notes. That way, I can return to school and not only help the next class win, but also show them how to correctly use lighting in a space.