Q & A Session with Nels Peterson, Lighting Designer

LED Lighting Design Nels Peterson

Q & A Session with Nels Peterson, Lighting Designer

After attending the AOLP Conference in Orlando this year, we realized what truly makes a landscape lighting manufacturer a success – the people who support and believe in the products we build.

So, to thank the many lighting designers that have helped us to grow as an outdoor lighting manufacturer, and volunteered valuable feedback along the way, we’ve created a designer spotlight to highlight their achievements and insights into the future of the lighting industry.

To kick-off this new feature, we asked Nels Peterson of N Design Partners LLC to participate in our first Lighting Designer Q & A Session.

An award winning and nationally acclaimed landscape lighting designer, Nels has created landscape illumination project throughout the Midwest, Southwest and Florida. Working on projects large and small for all types of clients, Nels’ 20 years of experience, talent and trained eye have him in demand from landscape architects and design build firms all around the US.

What first attracted you to landscape lighting?

The ability to turn the night into an inviting and enchanting environment, instead of a dark and scary place. I guess I was always a little scared of the dark as a young person and this was just a way of getting back at the dark.

What sets you apart from other landscape lighting companies?

Every lighting job I design is adjusted and installed at night. Every fixture is placed, focused, and sometimes moved to another location, before we finish the installation in the daylight hours. It makes all the difference.

What was your most challenging project?

Lighting a client’s home where there were just too many things to light. It was a five-acre estate filled with statues and trees. I had to restrain myself and carefully select what to highlight and what to leave in the dark.

Why did you first begin to experiment with LED landscape lights in your designs? 

I needed to add water feature lighting on a large waterfall. At the time, the bluish light that LED offered seemed to be better suited for lighting water features.

What lighting issues did LEDs solve when you started incorporating the lamps into your designs?

Miniaturization. I can put a light just about anywhere, and accomplish very high moonlighting from trees. The low maintenance requirements of LED’s made it practical as well.

Which past, or present, lighting project truly defines who you are as a lighting designer? And why?

This is hard. Very hard. I would have to say it was a project I completed last year where our client had a fantastic home, but a horrible landscape design. I took the horrible aspects of the landscape and made them disappear in the night. Then I illuminated the residence and the features I found beautiful and showcased them. Throughout the project, I stood my ground and refused to light the project like a theme park. The result was a satisfied client and a project I could be proud of. You have to remember, you’re an artist first and foremost don’t compromise your principles. The client is not always right and you don’t need every job.

What do you see as being the future of the lighting industry? Challenges? Opportunities? Threats?

The future is…light sources so small and so dependable that we will be able to place fixtures just about anywhere and know they will last for fifteen or twenty years. We will be able to be more creative and have better control over the sources of light than ever before. The challenge will be to not get ahead of technology. LED is a fantastic product but we need to respect the learning curve and bring new products to market only when they are ready. Case in point Illumicare, you waited until your product was proven, sustainable and produced the results you needed. Success.

What advice would you give other landscape lighting designers and installers about using LED lamps?

Whether you like LED lighting or not, it’s here, and it’s here to stay. Embrace the technology, use the best product available, and learn all you can about this new tool. Experiment and try it in your designs. Your clients are demanding it and your competition will be giving them what they want.

About N Design Partners LLC

N Design Partners is a leading residential lighting design firm specializing in high-quality custom landscape and architectural lighting. Inspired by green technologies, and beautiful functional fixtures, our firm creates classic soft understated designs that closely fit with our clients’ needs and individual style. We use our talents and expert vision to paint a picture of light creating environments that welcome you outside and then embrace you with a warm glow.

Phone: 612 636 2573
Fax: 612 353 4693
1728 Concordia Ave,
St Paul, MN 55104

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