Interview: Business and Lighting Design with James Henderson


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Because most of you out there requested that Freshome had some articles on lighting design, here's something that we hope will exceed your expectations. We decided to contact James Henderson, the president of Shine Labs, a company some of you are already familiar with. Jim accepted the challenge to answer our questions so we proudly invite you to go through them and learn from the lessons of his impressive experience:

  • Freshome: What determined your passion for design? Tell us about the moment when you decided this is the way to go.
  • Jim Henderson: During collage in 1984 I was 24 and decided to pursue Video production. I bought the equipment to start my own production company- Rocket Video. I dreamed about roaming the world capturing video images of the times. This is where I learned that one of my strengths was my eye.

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  • Freshome: Can you remember your first design project? Describe it a bit, whether it is a gizmo you worked at as a little kid or something that was sold at a large scale.
  • Jim Henderson: In 1984 I saw the YAYAHO by Ingo Maurer in a furniture store in San Francisco. It had pretty 12 volt halogen lights hanging from horizontal bare wires. I was so impressed that I went directly to a trade show in Milan Italy to meet him and see more of his designs. I soon learned about 12 Volt halogen lighting and started the first UL listed Bare conductor halogen lighting system made in the USA. I was 24 years old.

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  • Freshome: What field of design are you most interested in? Do your works have anything to do with it? (We are asking this because not many designers do what they actually want)
  • Jim Henderson: I have been in the lighting industry for 20 years and have just started my third lighting company based in San Francisco, Shine Labs.
  • Freshome: Chronologically describe what you are going through (feelings and thoughts) on your way to work.
  • Jim Henderson: I drop my son off in the Haight Ashbury at the high school that I went to, then drive by rows of Victorians painted with bright colors. So I feel groovy, and look forward to the emails that are waiting on my computer.
  • Freshome: What is your favorite book/magazine on design?
  • Jim Henderson: I like Metropolis, Interior Design, Wallpaper.
  • Freshome: How about your favourite site?
  • Jim Henderson: My desktop opens "Fast Company" so I start there.

lighting shine labs23456 Interview: Business and Lighting Design with James Henderson

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  • Freshome: What inspires you?
  • Jim Henderson: Having important clients re-order and being able to ship orders on time.
  • Freshome: What is the most frustrating aspect of your job as a designer?
  • Jim Henderson: Being under capitalized.
  • Freshome: And the most rewarding one?
  • Jim Henderson: Having a good trade show and getting lots of orders of our products.
  • Freshome: From your point of view, is design an art or a science?
  • Jim Henderson: I think of it as both. We are working on the aesthetic and emotional value and the functional importance of the hardware and electrical components that makes the work reliable.

lighting shine labs2 Interview: Business and Lighting Design with James Henderson

  • Freshome: Tell us something unusual that happened in your carrier.
  • Jim Henderson: I sold my blown glass company, 2thousand Degrees to a large lighting company.
  • Freshome: Let's say you entered a contest. You have to come up with a design for the first house on the Moon built for extra-terrestrial living. How would your project look like?
  • Jim Henderson: I would like Frank Gehry to design it. It should run on solar power and have several garages for shuttles.
  • Freshome: If design were a product, what would it be and how would you design it?
  • Jim Henderson: Most likely a design that helped humans of little means be healthy and educated.
  • Freshome: If you had no limits (money, resources), what would you create?
  • Jim Henderson: If it would help with global warming then a dome over the North and South Poles.

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  • Freshome: Share something you would like the world to know about you or your ideas.
  • Jim Henderson: My ideas usually have an artistic evolution and they come to mind when I least expect it and soon end up on a small piece of paper.
  • Freshome: What do you think of our site?
  • Jim Henderson: I have not spent much time on it. I have been traveling a lot.

lighting shine labs Interview: Business and Lighting Design with James Henderson

  • Freshome: What advice do you have for young designers or architects reading this interview?
  • Jim Henderson: Have fun and ask for feedback from your peers often.


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