Ellen Goulmy

19th December 2019

The internet-famous selfie couple Ellen Goulmy and Berry van Egten, of Berlux Lighting Design, are notable figures in the lighting industry. arc sat down with Goulmy to discuss the pair’s next venture into the light festival world. Taking a leaf out of Lights in Alingsås’  book, the couple’s Lights in Blokzijl debuted this December. 

How did you both get into lighting?

I have a background in journalism and worked for the Dutch radio station Radio3FM as producer for several shows. Then one day, I just decided to quit and look for something new. Just by coincidence, I started working in Amsterdam in a design store with lighting. 

Here, I fell in love with lighting, so went on to study lighting design at ROC Midden Nederland, and then went on to open my own store (later studio). 

Eight years ago, I fell in love with a lighting designer and we decided to work together as a team! That was the beginning of a successful journey together, both in lighting design at Berlux Lighting Design and in the field of teaching at the Lighting Design Academy. 

The guy I fell in love with is Berry van Egten. He started in the lighting industry 25 years ago, where he worked for several manufacturers in the Netherlands and Belgium, before starting his lighting design firm in 1993, with only five members of staff. He’s passionate about light and lighting, and for that reason he started the Lighting Design Academy to share knowledge about lighting. 

Together we run both companies to get as many people involved in lighting design and share the same passion as we do!

Your most recent big project was Lights in Blokzijl. What was the concept behind it?

We both love Lights in Alingsås, and like to see it as our festival’s big sister! We visit the festival almost every year to see the students and staff on the last workshop evening and attend the opening ceremony. Berry was also one of the workshop heads in 2008. Around the world there are a lot of festivals, but not many with the concept of a workshop and sharing knowledge in a short period of time. It’s a perfect opportunity for students and one of the reasons we wanted to bring a bit of Alingsås to the Netherlands. 

The idea to play and experiment in the surroundings of a city is made possible in the city of Blokzijl. It’s a very small town in the Netherlands where we also happen to live. 

Who participated in the first edition of the light festival?  

For the first edition we invited seven teams (a total of ten people) to guide the participants on their learning paths.

At the beginning of 2019, we had a call for workshop leaders through the IALD website and selected the following: Roberto Corandini of Light Design Workshop in Italy, Sjoerd van Beers and Juliette Nielsen of Beersnielsen in the Netherlands, Luciana Alanis in Switzerland of Lichtgold, Korhan Şişman of Planlux in Turkey, Anuj Gala from Lighting Design Collective in Finland and Rogier Hengeveld of Lighting Business Consultancy in Netherlands, Kapil Surlakar of Light@Work Design Consultants in India, and Johan Moritz, Senior Lighting Designer for the city of Malmö and Tina Wikström of Licht Kunst Licht from Sweden.

In February we will release a new call for participants for the 2020 edition of the event.

What happened during the event’s debut?

The workshop ran from 6 until 12 December 2019. The official opening of the event was held on the 11 December at 18:00, and then the festival was open for the public until 22nd of December (daily 17:00 until 23:00). There were a lot of other events that ran alongside the light festival, with details listed on the website and social media platforms during the course of the event’s programme. 

After the success of the first event this year, what are your goals and aims for the it moving forward?

We want Lights in Blokzijl to be a yearly event in December. The aim is to get more students involved and therefore, have scholarships availabe for them to support their education. 

Of course, professionals are welcome to join in on the workshops as well (but they would have to pay!).

We want Lights in Blokzijl to to be a new place where professionals and students meet and share their knowledge, and make friends for life!

Aside from Lights in Blokzijl, what are you both working on at the moment? 

We have a few historical lighting design projects that we are working on, and in the field of teaching we are working on an e-learning platform that will be available around summer 2020. Our courses are only available in Dutch at the moment, but that’s going to change in 2020 due to the new platform. It’s a big step, but one we are really looking forward to!   

What does the future hold for the lighting industry? 

The industry is becoming more and more digital. A lighting designer does not only design lighting but is becoming more of a lighting programmer as well. We think it’s a good thing, but it’s important to keep educating yourself and stay up to date.

Also, the selfies! We need more for our book, so if you see us, please come and join us for a selfie!