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SOURCE Awards winner: Megan Everhart

Designer Megan Everhart won SOURCE Awards recognition in 2015 while she was a student at Appalachian State University.

Everhart's culturally integrative lighting design for Fresh Restaurant and Bar highlights the Malaysian culture and the beauty of the outdoors. Everhart intertwined the two concepts by using Eaton's io LED asymmetric cove luminaires to accentuate the restaurant’s natural plants and waterfalls. She used Halo Stasis LED track fixtures for a layered approach to lighting that focuses on tabletops throughout the restaurant. Woven, decorative pendants are hung in the space to create a focal point in the woven design. Everhart's composition of woven lighting and natural elements compose a crisp, native design that reflects the beauty of the lush Malaysian environment.

The Eaton's Lighting Division team caught up with Everhart to learn more about her award-winning design and how it affected her development as an interior designer.

What was it like winning a SOURCE Award?

Winning a SOURCE Award was an incredible experience. The competition not only left a lasting impression on my professional career, it also created some amazing memories for me. The trip to New York City for LIGHTFAIR International was a dream come true. I not only had the chance to stay in Times Square and experience the liveliness of New York City, I was also able to attend the lighting industry’s leading conference and see products from my project in action.

What motivated you to enter the contest?

Appalachian State offers a global studio course where students are assigned a project from a different country. This project encourages us to think outside of the box and research how to design a space to reflect a culture that is different than our own.

An architectural firm gave us plans for a building that was actually being built in Kuala Lumpur. I took those plans and researched the Malaysian culture and cuisine of the area to create a restaurant for that building.

The professor of my global design studio incorporated the SOURCE Awards as part of the studio. She encourages her students to refine their projects to the point where they can be entered into the contest.

Tell us about your award-winning lighting design.

I really believe that wherever something is being built, is it important that the end users can connect to the space. Design has to fit the area and the culture in which it exists. Any space that is designed should reflect the surrounding environment.

My design concept revolved around woven layers. In Malaysian culture, pandan leaves are used for cooking, weaving and decoration. These tropical leaves are woven together for Hari Raya, the Malaysian celebration of the New Year. I wanted to evoke the freshness of pandan leaves through natural elements in the restaurant and integrate the woven concept via layered lighting. To achieve this, I used Halo LED track fixtures mounted above a woven ceiling fixture as well as cove lighting to create contrast and layering effects that focus on both the tabletops and natural elements throughout the restaurant.

What role does lighting play in design?

Lighting is essential. Unfortunately, most people only realize the presence of lighting elements when they are misused. No matter how awesome your overall design is, if the lighting is terrible, it ruins the design. It is important to know how lighting is distributed in and illuminates a space.

You were a student winner. Where did you go to school, and what was your degree?

I attended Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. Appalachian State University has an amazing interior design program. Their program confirmed for me that I was meant to go into interior design. I graduated in May 2016 with a bachelor of science in interior design and a minor in building science.

How has winning a SOURCE Award affected your future plans?

The experience has elevated all of the lighting design work I have done since the competition. It opened my eyes to how lighting can positively transform a space. Before the competition, lighting was more of an afterthought in my designs. Now, I love lighting design. You can have the most beautiful room, yet you won’t see any of it without light. When I started working in lighting design, I quickly learned lighting's true value to design.

Eaton is a well-respected company, and listing a SOURCE Award on my resume has opened many doors for me. Winning a SOURCE Award helped validate my skills as a lighting designer and interior designer and proved that I both consider design and have a good understanding of it.

I just started a new job, and I love it thus far. My company does a variety of different design projects, which is exciting because I love learning new things about design. I hope that in the future, I can be a lighting design resource for my colleagues and clients.

What advice would you give to a lighting design student looking to enter the contest? 

Find a project you are passionate about, and let it show in the design.

Look to not only understand how lighting is incorporated into an environment but also to make the space fun and interesting through lighting design. To prepare for the competition, make sure your boards and illustrations reflect all of the hard work you've done. Make sure the renderings and plans show just how great your design is, and double check that your intent is accurately portrayed.

The SOURCE Awards competition, established in 1977, focuses on furthering the understanding, knowledge and function of lighting as a primary element in design. Designed to recognize and honor the bright future of the lighting design industry, the awards are part of Eaton’s commitment to building the pipeline of lighting design talent.

The SOURCE Awards are open to students who use Eaton’s lighting fixtures and controls products in a conceptual interior or exterior lighting design. University students studying architecture, design, engineering or related disciplines are invited to enter. Enter Now