2020 Design with Light Student Competition


DesignWithLight is a student lighting design competition organized by the Philadelphia Section of the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) to raise awareness and understanding of the lighting design profession within the student community.


This year, students will be tasked with developing a custom tabletop luminaire to be displayed as a centerpiece at The Philaments Awards Banquet – an evening celebrating the local architectural lighting design community. The luminaire design concept should arrive from an inspirational photo of light that the student has taken themselves. Through this competition the goal is that the student become more aware of the interaction between light and materials and the effect that interaction has on the individual experience. This competition will help students explore various techniques in using light and materials to create a desired lighting effect and emotional response.

In response to the international COVID pandemic, the IES Board of Managers is unable to determine when the next Philaments Awards Banquet will be held. The committee will make its best efforts to acknowledge the winners of the competition at the next live IES event, whenever that may be. The winners of the contest will be invited to this event but are not required to attend. Please email the committee chairs for more details.

Event Details


Friday, October 16th, 2020: Application Deadline

Friday, November 20th, 2020: Project Mail-In Deadline

Tuesday, December 15th, 2020: Winners Announced



  • Students that wish to participate shall complete the online form by No Later Than October 16th, 2020.
  • Students that attend a school or university that falls outside a 30 mile radius from Center City Philadelphia will be allowed to participate in the competition via webcam – fixture materials will be sent in the mail for such instances.
  • Please contact Evan Wilson – Committee Chair at ewilson@thelightingpractice.com and Jason Bradshaw - Committee Chair at jason@beamltd.com if you are otherwise unable to reasonably obtain transportation to the competition venue.


  • Your luminaire design concept shall be inspired by a photo of light.
  • The Photo must be taken with your own cell phone or digital camera.
  • The Photo must capture the interaction of light in the built or natural environment. Experiment, play, search for something interesting and unique, and have fun.


  • Contestants are free to use any materials they want to construct their luminaire. Please refrain from using any materials that will rot, decompose or will not be able to withstand shipping. Contestants are advised to use sturdy building materials and fastening methods.
  • The use of any 3D printed materials or components is banned and will result in immediate disqualification.
  • TThe Inspirational Photo shall be sent along with the luminare and. the photo shall be printed on an 8x11 piece of paper.
  • The Luminaire shall not exceed the following dimensions: 8” W x 8” L x 12” H Tip: Imagine yourself sitting with 8 others around an 8’ diameter table lined with a white table cloth. Think about the type of lighting that would evoke an interesting conversation. Think about the size and shape of the fixture and not wanting to impair anyone’s view of the person sitting across the table.
  • The Luminaire shall be self-sustainable; it should be able to stand on a table without cable or suspension supports.
  • The Luminaire shall be self-powered; the light source(s) used shall be battery operated and not require a power cord for illumination. Tip: There are many online sources for procuring battery operated lamps. Be creative and test the product at the beginning of the project.
  • The Luminaire shall be innovative in use of materials. Tip: Think about the type and placement of the light source and using papers, acetates and materials that interact with the light in a way to best evoke the same feel and lighting effect found in the photo.
  • The Luminaire shall be well crafted. Tip: Think about how the material are held together, how the battery can be concealed and accessible so that they can be replaced or recharged. Think about where the on/off button and/or the remote shall be located for ease of use.
  • The Luminaire shall have your name on the bottom of the luminaire. Fixtures which do not have a name shall be immediately disqualified.

*All submitted materials will become ownership of the IES Philadelphia section used for public display, publication, and promotional materials. It will be the responsibility of the student to make arrangements to have their luminaire returned.


Please mail your completed luminaire to the following address:

The Lighting Practice
Attn: Evan Wilson
600 Chestnut Street, Suite 772
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Please arrange for your package to arrive at the Lighting Practice no later than November 20th, 2020.


A panel of three judges shall be appointed to review the entries and determine the awards. Judges will be selected from the Philadelphia-area and be in the lighting, architectural, and/or interior design profession.

The luminaire design will be judged based on the following criteria and point system:

Project Criteria:

___ Project Guidelines for the luminaire were met, the luminaire was not larger than the dimensions provided, was
self-sustaining, and battery operated
___ Construction and craftsmanship
___ Success in being able to manipulate materials in a way that captures a similar color, texture, and intensity of light as
illustrated in the inspiration photo
___ Success in designing a luminaire that produces a similar human reaction and emotion response that is found in the
inspiration image


First Place: $1,000
Second Place: $750
Third Place: $500
Honorable Mention*: $100

Start date: October 16, 2020

End date: December 15, 2020

Venue: Winners will be announced during the next live IES event.

Email: ewilson@thelightingpractice.com