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Student wins SOURCE Award for Turkish restaurant lighting design

Ally Mangini, an interior design student at Appalachian State University in North Carolina, won a 2018 SOURCE Award for her lighting design project, Twist, a fictional restaurant with a cultural twist on Turkish cuisine.

Eaton’s Lighting Division talked with Mangini about her award-winning restaurant lighting design, what inspired her to pursue a career in design and her tips for other students interested in the field.

What was it like winning a SOURCE Award?

In a word — awesome! I received an invitation to attend LIGHTFAIR, and it was such a cool experience for a student.

The SOURCE Awards were the first big design competition I entered. I put my heart and soul and a lot of time into my entry. Winning felt extremely rewarding, and it has motivated me as a student and aspiring designer. 

Tell us about your award-winning lighting design.

My lighting design concept for Twist, a restaurant located in Turkey, is a reflection of pathways. A unique environment that reflects various aspects of the Turkish culture, the restaurant’s interior uses curvilinear forms and lines inspired by Turkish architecture and art. I began seeing patterns within the intricate details of Islamic calligraphy that reminded me of pathways, and I combined that with traditional Turkish art forms and colors like dark reds and golds. 

I wanted to create a lighting design that made the restaurant feel like a warm, comforting place. It’s in a popular area with lots of young professionals, families and college students. I really tried to play with small details in places such as the hostess stand in front of the bar, and I tried to incorporate lighting fixtures in unique ways that wouldn’t occur in a basic, ordinary restaurant. 

What are you studying in school?

I’m majoring in interior design at Appalachian State University. Though right now I’m focused more on commercial design, I’m keeping an open mind. After graduation, I’d like to get a job in this field, but I could also picture going back to school for a few years to get my architecture license.

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

I always knew I wanted to do something related to design. When I visited Appalachian State, I loved its location in the North Carolina mountains. I also toured the interior design building and met my professor Jeanne Mercer-Ballard. She showed me the studio classes and senior projects and talked about how it is a smaller program, where the students have a good relationship with their professors.

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

Lighting can completely change a space and its mood, but it’s often overlooked. For my restaurant lighting design, I focused on warm lighting to create a more comfortable environment. Other environments may call for totally different lighting techniques. Think about a grocery store, for example — there, you’d want bright lights that make it easy to navigate the aisles.

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

Taking the lighting course at Appalachian State and entering the SOURCE Awards really made me think about a career in lighting design. Going to LIGHTFAIR and networking with vendors also opened my eyes to the possibilities available to me as an interior design major.

Winning a SOURCE Award motivated me and helped me get excited about my senior year, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store postgraduation. Next, I have a summer internship with Lawler Design Studio in Fort Mill, South Carolina, near my hometown of Charlotte. Long-term, getting a job in Chicago would be a dream for me.

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

Most of all, be confident. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Second, take advantage of any opportunity for experience, just to get a head start. At least, that would be my advice to my freshman self. Go to American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) events. Start networking as soon as you can. And if you think you want to enter a competition, go for it. What’s the worst that can happen?