Nuckolls $30,000 grant to help interior design professor develop advanced lighting course

Image courtesy of Jake Tucci

“Hotel Lobby – Experimenting with Lighting Project” was produced by Interior Design student Caitlin Hagedorn for Jake Tucci’s Spring 2022 Lighting Systems course.

The Nuckolls Fund for Lighting Education has awarded the Interior Design Department of the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design a $30,000 grant to develop a graduate-level advanced lighting course.

Jake Tucci, assistant professor of interior design and principal investigator of this grant, will use the funding to develop the new lighting course and fund it for the first three years.

Tucci and the Department of Interior Design is one of three programs to receive a $30,000 Nuckolls grant for 2022. The Nuckolls Fund supports college-level lighting programs that enable students to learn, appreciate and apply the fundamentals of lighting design and recognize the accomplishments of the late lighting designer and lighting education pioneer James L. Nuckolls.

As an expert in the visualization and design process, Tucci currently teaches Lighting Systems, an introductory course in lighting, and Digital Media in Design, which introduces digital tools and also discusses lighting.

Tucci said teaching these courses helped reveal the need for the advanced course, which is why he submitted the Nuckolls grant proposal. Although he has reworked his introductory lighting course, he still does not have enough time to delve deeper into the application of lighting theories. As a result, even upper-level students tend to overlook the inclusion of in-depth lighting schemes in their studio designs.

“You can do all these wonderful lectures and show all these wonderful examples of design, but when the rubber meets the road in the studio, you don’t see that exploration; you don’t see the influence of it all,” he said. he explains.

Lighting design is a fundamental part of interior design. It is invaluable in creating the perception of space and form, and it also affects the well-being of people using the space. Tucci said while this is important, it tends to be an afterthought in student design work, as many interior design programs don’t have enough time to spend on lighting in the program.

“Students make a design, but they don’t know how it’s going to turn out, what it’s really going to look like,” Tucci said. “We’re more focused on advancing applications and analytical tools, as well as experimenting and testing.”

Tucci said one of the overlooked areas is analyzing and testing lighting patterns, which will be the focus of this advanced course.

“These advanced skills will set our interior design graduates apart from most students in the country,” said Carl Matthews, head of the interior design department.

Part of the grant funding will go towards hiring a lighting design consultant who will work with Tucci on developing the course curriculum and then help teach the course. Tucci said having a lighting designer playing an equal role in developing and teaching the course is a priority to ensure the course meets the latest knowledge and industry practice.

The funding will also be used to purchase light level meters and color spectrometers – tools that will allow students to test light levels and color so they can compare them to official standards. Tucci said they talked about these tools and standards during the introductory lighting course, but didn’t have time to test them in class.

The advanced course will be much more focused on hands-on projects and active learning, and students will conduct case studies so they can really learn how to use the lighting tools. They will also use digital tools to explore lighting schemes in their own studio projects to see what they would actually look like.

One digital tool is ELUMTools lighting analysis software, provided free to students by, which offers a fully integrated lighting calculation add-on for Autodesk Revit.

Students in the Advanced Lighting Course will also take field trips to see examples of well-designed lighting in built projects, lighting manufacturers, and construction sites where lights are installed.

Tucci said he hopes the knowledge and skills students gain during the advanced lighting course will carry over to other studios. He plans to consolidate the results of the lighting analysis tests done in the advanced course for use as lessons in the introductory lighting course. He also hopes that Advanced Course students will become more adept at incorporating lighting schemes into their other studios.

“My hope generally is that eventually studios start looking at lighting earlier in the design process — that it becomes a more integrated part of their studio work,” Tucci said.

The first Advanced Lighting Design course will be offered as an Advanced Design Studio, an elective course for upper-level design students, in the Spring 2023 semester. The studio will accommodate 15-20 students and will be open to undergraduate students in interior design, architecture, landscape architecture and masters in design studies.

“They’re going to bring different experiences to it — what they’ve already learned about lighting, as well as different types of projects,” Tucci said.

Tucci said the plan is to continue offering the advanced lighting course beyond the three years included in the grant, so he will design the course to make it easy for other teachers to pick up. teaching materials in the future, even if they are not lighting experts.