Like so many lighting designers, Domingo Gonzalez didn’t set out to be one. After graduating from the architecture program at City College in New York City in 1978, he took a summer drafting job with Evans & Hillmann. There, he assisted the interiors group, and, when that group spun off, was asked to stay on and do lighting. From there his own practice, Domingo Gonzalez Associates, emerged in 1985, one in which there are few boundaries between architecture and lighting. As Gonzalez says, “I’ve always seen myself as a design professional first, one who happens to be a design professional involved with lighting.”
What areas of design influence you?
I’m a fan of design in all its forms. Architecture is at the top of the list along with product design, and cooking. I see tremendous parallels between designing and cooking.
What text has influenced your thinking?
There are several, but Robert Venturi’s Complexity and Contradiction (1966) is one of the most important architectural dissertations of the 20th century. One of its many lessons is that a better understanding of history helps to inform and enrich our work.
How do you describe what a lighting designer does?
It comes down to being a problem solver. The rest is understanding the rules, tactics, and techniques to deliver the desired solution.
Does that translate into a design or lighting philosophy?
I have a soft spot for comic books. The makeup of my ideal project is like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: There’s the architecture hero, the engineering hero, the landscape hero, the lighting hero, etc. … and all the heroes join forces on this great mission called “The Project.”
How has the evolution of lighting technology impacted your work?
The evolution of lighting design as a profession has always been inextricably linked to the evolution of lighting technology. It goes back to the analogy between lighting and cooking. A good chef will create a terrific meal with any ingredients under almost any circumstances. Any good designer or good lighting professional should be able to do the same. •
“There is always more than just one solution. That means a designer must be willing to explore, examine, and see the project as a journey.” -- Domingo Gonzalez, founder and principal of Domingo Gonzalez Associates Architectural Lighting Design