Illuminating Society, One Household at a Time


Mom with three children (left); all of the participants with their light fixtures.

Catherine Teegarden (left); Glenda Reed

On 12.12.09 the Center for Architecture Foundation (CFAF) hosted its annual Family Day on Lighting Design. Sponsored by the Illuminating Engineering Society of New York (IESNY), the program provided more than 30 families with the tools to create their own light fixtures. IESNY Board Member Phil Cialdella, who attended the workshop with his daughter, shared his design knowledge and talked about some of IESNY’s other initiatives.

CFAF Design Educator Catherine Teegarden introduced participants to lighting designs in celebratory traditions from around the world. Many traditions incorporate lights made with regular paper, such as Thai lanterns created for the celebration of Loi Krathong and Mexican farolitos made from brown paper bags for Las Posadas. Teegarden also discussed the symbolism of lights. For example, while the abundance of light and greenery in Christmas decorations literally helps us get through the darker days, symbolically it serves to remind us that spring is right around the corner.

The workshop was filled with talented, aspiring lighting designers. Some approached the challenge from a technical standpoint and built architecturally sound structures to house their light source. Others quickly discovered that enough glue can hold anything down, which allowed them to creatively combine a variety of materials. A free-standing lamp had a cut-out snowman; a pair of lights represented “ghosts of Christmas” in green and red; and a pine tree-shaped night light was made from stacked ping-pong balls.

Family Day programs are offered once a month at the Center for Architecture. Three-day design programs for kids in grades 2-12 are also offered during the school vacation weeks this spring. Visit theCFAF website for dates and details.