Designations for Lighting Designers: IALD, PLDA, & etc.
Like other industry associations, the International Association of Lighting Designers has several levels of membership. But only an experienced architectural lighting designer whose work has undergone peer-review is permitted to carry the IALD Professional member designation after his/her name. (Remember, a designation is not a certification; see “Lighting Design Certifications: From A to Z.”)
Even so, the IALD designation is considered the pinnacle of the lighting design profession and these designers light some of the most famous public spaces, monuments, and high-end residences in the world. All IALD Professional members must abide by rules of ethics and do not sell or install lighting equipment nor represent any line of products.
Based in Chicago, the association’s role is to set the highest standards in the architectural lighting design profession and to advance lighting design excellence. Currently, there is movement, including input from many stakeholder organizations, for IALD to develop an international, voluntary certification program specifically for architectural lighting design. Look for developments this summer.
Though the roots of the Professional Lighting Designers’ Association lie in Europe – it was formerly the European lighting Designers’ Association – PLDA welcomes architectural lighting designers from all over the world.
An in-person interview and project review are required to attain Professional member status, and only Professional members have the right to use PLDA after their name. Professional membership is open to designers of many different backgrounds, but excludes practicing electrical engineers.
Among the many other lighting societies worldwide, only the Association de Concepteurs Eclairage (ACE, the French Association of Lighting Designers), the Svenska Ljussättareföreningen (SLF, Association of Swedish Lighting Designers), and the Associazione Professionisti dell’Illuminazione (APIL, Italian Lighting Professionals’ Association in Italy) appear to focus on lighting designers.
There is a long list of lighting technical, trade, and professional lighting associations. Groups like the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IES) and the Society of Light and Lighting (SLL) often work to set lighting design recommendations and lighting products testing standards and to promote lighting education. Though not focused on lighting design, per se, many professional lighting designers are active and highly valued contributors.
Several organizations conduct annual, peer-reviewed lighting design awards programs. The IES Illumination Awards recognize projects at the local, regional, and international level. Most professionals practicing creative, complex lighting design in North America will have an award or two to show for his or her best work.
As mentioned above, these organizations may require a minimum level of education and/or experience for a member to carry a particular designation after his or her name, e.g., IES or MSLL, but not necessarily require continuing education, peer review, or adherence to a code of ethics – hallmarks of certification
Lighting.com continues to compile its list of professional and trade associations on its Lighting Industry Resources page.
Other lighting credentials
There are many industry groups that educate and evaluate lighting professionals, including lighting designers. In the series “Lighting Design Certifications: From A to Z,” we sort through the alphabet soup of lighting credentials that recognize illumination professionals as literate, competent, or even expert, in their respective fields.
Written by Lois I. Hutchinson