BRINGING FOCUS TO HOSPITALITY LIGHTING DESIGN
Five years after leaving the vibrant New York lighting design scene to establish CD+M’s dedicated hospitality lighting design studio in Dubai, Courtney Mark has become one of the region’s leading lighting designers. She talks about her inspiring journey to the top. “After 10 years in New York City, I was posted to New Delhi for a two-year project and when I returned to the Big Apple, I realised I had had enough of the winters. As things would have it, right at that moment in my life, I was introduced to Ted Ferreira, CD+M’s managing partner in Los Angeles, who asked the question — ‘ever been to Dubai?’ — and the rest is history.” Mark says she was drawn to CD+M’s cool Southern California-meet-serious and dedicated global design practice vibe, and dedicated studio mentality. “I studied interior design at the Pratt Institute’s ID programme in NYC and cut my teeth purely in hospitality early in my career.”
After designing for 38 hotels, 114 restaurants and 42 bars, Mark has found her groove managing a team of eight designers working purely in the area of hospitality. “I’ve been fortunate to have worked on a wide spectrum of projects such as the new Chedi Resort in Ras Al Haad, Oman; The Anantara in Ras Al Khaimah; Th8 on the Palm Jumeirah, and the first Swarovski Hotel and Residences in Downtown Dubai.”
Describing herself as conscientious, fastidious, and detail-oriented, Mark says she is a believer in what she calls “retained tribal knowledge” that she draws from. “Everywhere I travel, and everything I see things that visually work or inspire me. I have the ability to recall and utilise these perspectives on new projects, which keeps our work fresh with details and cutting-edge techniques we know, work well.”
CD+M is a global lighting design practice, and the only US firm in Dubai. Do you find that surprising, and does that mean you are different?
Several US firms have dabbled in Dubai over the years but were not willing to commit. After five years here, I understand that it’s tough. We bring front-trending US style and techniques to our work, which make our projects subtly fresh and distinct. We specify from the global product market. If you’re a European designer, you know the EU brands and conversely, if you’re an American designer, you’ll likely work with American brands. We bring a global basket of products to our projects including many Asian brands.
After five years, what can we expect in the years ahead?
We’re incredibly busy at the moment, and I love what I’m doing, so I’m in it for the long haul in Dubai, personally.
Professionally, I’ve learnt to balance volume with delivering a stellar product, which I’m incredibly proud of. Our visuals — through which we convey design intent, documentation, attention to detail, comprehensive drawing packages, and equipment specifications — are world class.
Most importantly, we work hard at understanding and executing the vision of the interior designers and architects we work with. We believe that lighting follows interior design and architecture, always.
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