Luchow's restaurant on 14th Street in New York City
Berenice Abbott (1898-1991)/Museum of the City of New York. 49.282.96 Luchow's restaurant on 14th Street in New York City

Lighting design is a relatively young profession. Prior to 1969, there was no formal organization that represented the interests of lighting designers. The profession’s early practitioners—people such as Lesley Wheel, David Mintz, Martin Garon, Howard Brandston, Ray Grenald, Jules Horton, Jim Nuckolls, Abe Feder, and Donald Gersztoff, to name a few—met regularly to discuss issues that were impacting them as individual designers trying to run a business and make a living. As Mintz recalls, the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) was born out of a discussion he had with Garon about the possibility of forming a group so that people could get health insurance at a reasonable cost. There was also the issue of establishing a standard contract that lighting designers could use for clients, and even maybe some type of license that lighting designers could use as a professional credential.

At the start of 1969, the group, now numbering 15, held its first formal meeting, a dinner at Luchow's restaurant on 14th Street in New York City. A five-person committee was established to address the following items: What is the profession of lighting design? How does one define a professional lighting designer? And what might be the goals of an association of professional lighting designers?

In 1971, the group officially incorporated. Today, the IALD has more than 1,200 members around the world and a lineup of activities that includes annual conferences, award programs, education outreach, and liaising with the lighting manufacturing community. A lot has been accomplished since those first meetings, and there is still much more to be done, but the IALD has never wavered from its core mission: to represent the interests of the independent lighting designer.

Explore all 30 Moments in Lighting from our 30th Anniversary Issue here.