I was recently interviewed for a story on how got I started, it was fun to look back and share my perspective. Here is the excerpt on my love for landscaping lighting design.
As I approached my 40th birthday, I had what some may call a midlife crisis. I wanted to get out of the manufacturing world and while I always had an interest in architecture and some artistic ability, I wasn’t sure where it could take me. My first stop in this discovery process was to pursue a landscape design certificate. I had become a “plant geek”, so when I got my certification and started out with NatureScape Gardens, I was headed in the right direction. Soon after, I was introduced to and fell in love with, landscape lighting. That’s where I found my passion and NatureScape Lighting was born.
Why outdoor lighting?
The business side of my brain saw the opportunity in lighting. It was clear to me that the established high-end designers in the green industry would benefit by having a lighting specialist at the ready. This is when the artistic side of my brain told me I could fill that void. It wasn’t about installing lights, but all about the art. Was it possible to achieve my goals by helping others to experience beautiful lighting outside their window?
When did you know that this move made sense?
I knew I was on to something when a small newspaper ad produced to a phone call, which led to my first client. While we were installing this project, two excited neighbors stopped by to talk about lighting for their own homes. Our first ad quickly produced three new clients.
When you have the first conversation with a potential customer, what details are you looking for?
You may expect me to list things like a property survey, a landscape design, information like dimensions of your property, or your patio, or your pool area. However, the most important element I look for during the first phone call is passion. I shouldn’t have more interest in a client’s property than they do. After all, I’m not the one sitting outside after dinner to experience the magic! So, they must understand, or at least want to know what lighting can do for their outdoor space and then be willing to work with a professional to make that vision a reality.
Where do you get your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from a number of things: the customer, the landscape, the architecture, specimen plants or sculpture and how these all fit. This is where my interest in architecture meets my interest in horticulture and helps me to create these spaces. Knowing how a plant will change during the seasons, and develop throughout the years, helps not only to create a great work of art now, but also for many years to come.
What are your design principles?
My design principles are simple; I leverage repetition and cohesion in the landscape design. I strive to create a
flow that is comfortable to the eyes, and reduce or eliminate glare. My goal is to have light that is visibly
balanced, leading the eye to the most important point. Humans are not much different than moths – we are also attracted to light!
One critical principle: I don’t paint every tree, feature or plant with the same brush. We must treat each element of the landscape as part of a bigger work of art. One tree may need several units to capture its essence while others may need only one or two. This means that we use more fixtures that stack softer layers of light, accentuating textures and guiding the eye and the visitor with intention.
What do you want the customer to think about when they are starting a landscape design project with lighting?
It’s never too early to call the lighting guy!
How do you think about the changing seasons and the impact of lighting?
It is rewarding to experience the landscape in a different light (pun intended) through the seasons. There is nothing more beautiful than seeing the structure of a tree with no leaves or with a light dusting of snow. I design for lighting in all seasons, striving for year round interest. It is my responsibility to understand and work with the best available features.
What are your favorite projects to work on?
Outdoor living spaces because it is the one area where you don’t only see the light but you experience the warmth. People overuse the term ambience, but it is so true that you want to feel the warmth, not only see it. It is incredibly satisfying to see my clients enjoying their space.
Michael Deo has been creating works of art using outdoor lighting for over 10 years. Based in Millington, New Jersey, NatureScape Lighting is the leader in exclusive, creative and environmentally responsible residential landscape lighting design and installation. His unique combination of lighting expertise and landscaping knowledge results in outdoor spaces that provide the ultimate finishing touch to your property. To get in touch with us, please message us here or call 908 647 8004.