Lighting Designer Paula Rainha talks to Trends in Lighting about her newly launched joint venture Filamento Architectural Light Design. Paula Rainha and Joana Mendo launched their lighting design practice in a tumultuous environment after collaborating together on numerous projects.
TiL: Can you tell our readers about your journey into design and what your achievements were before creating Filamento?
PR: I wanted to be a dancer at some point in my life, but I ended up training as an architect. When I finished my degree, I felt that dance was missing from my life, and I started my quest on how to combine dance and architecture as a career. I found stage light design as a way to define space in the Dance world and I applied for a MSc in Lighting in London. Cutting the story short, I never did Stage Light Design but I completely embraced the architectural light design profession. I was in London for many years and then moved back to Lisbon where the profession was almost unknown. Ten years later I’m proud to say that I have established my own company called Synapse and I started working with some of the largest and most recognised architectural practices in Lisbon. Last year, Joana Mendo started collaborating with us and it made sense for us to combine our experiences and decided to merge the two companies into a new practice Filamento.
TiL: What inspired you to make the leap and set up your own brand?
PR: The fact that the profession of independent lighting designer didn’t exist in Portugal and that the way I work didn’t fit in any company in Portugal inspired me to show and educate clients the advantages of having independency on designing lighting for architectural projects.
TiL: What is at the heart of the Filamento brand?
PR: Our passion for lighting and how light can contribute for the experience of spaces.
TiL: Where do you draw the greatest inspiration from for your work?
PR: I think I’m mostly inspired by nature, by people and how they interact with architectural spaces.
TiL: What do you think independent services can offer over and above larger corporations?
PR: I think we can offer a more personalised consultancy/assistance to clients and in general we tend to be more flexible in the way we work than larger corporations.
TiL: How is the current environment affecting lighting design?
PR: I think generally lighting design is affected by what happens in the construction industry. Here in Portugal during all pandemic, construction works never stopped and so we also didn’t stop assisting construction in progress as well as projects that continued as planned.
TiL: Can you share any tips from your lockdown experience and how you got through it?
PR: I think one thing that I’ve learnt with this pandemic is that working from home and assisting kids simultaneously is not possible, so I ended up doing shifts with my husband in order to be able to have things done.
TiL: What advice would you give to a lighting designer considering setting up independently?
PR: I think the beginning can be a reality check for most of us that came from an established and corporative environment as there is a great part of setting a company that requires administration, financial and management skills and not just the design and lighting knowledge. Nevertheless, in a long term I think it’s very rewarding building a brand and a consultancy from scratch and watch it being recognised within the industry.
Photo credits: Há Luz no Parque, RunLola
Filamento offers a range of services, from “speedy consulting” to project management, from concept to construction supervision. Designing with light for exterior and interior environments, temporary and permanent installations all over the world, in all scales, from product development to master-planning.