RIP DEREK PHILLIPS, FIALD

The lighting design community is mourning the loss of Derek Phillips, FIALD, who passed away on Tuesday, 5 November 2013.

An architect and lighting designer, Derek Phillips pioneered the discipline of independent lighting in the United Kingdom. His lighting design mark has been left throughout the world; his work included the lighting of the SS Oriana in 1960, the Mandarian Oriental Hotel in Hong Kong in 1963, Westminster Abbey in 1965, historic monuments of Sri Lanka as an UNESCO consultant in 1976, the Durbar Court/Foreign Secretary’s office and Locarno Suite at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London in the 1980s.

Phillips also wrote Lighting in Architectural Design, a profoundly influential book first published in 1964, and Lighting, for the British Design Council, which demonstrated the principles and planning of home lighting and was published in 1966.

Son of Reg and Ida Phillips, Derek was born in England and spent his childhood in both India and the United Kingdom. He served in the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy during World War II; after the war, he trained as an architect and became a fellow of daylighting and architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) before going on to work for lighting manufacturer British Thomson Houston (BTH) for four years.

While he relished his work at BTH, Phillips didn’t want to be limited to just one line of lighting products. To that end, he founded his own independent lighting design practice, Derek Phillips Associates (now DPA Lighting Consultants) in 1958 – one of the first of its kind.

Nick Hoggett, a partner at DPA’s Oxfordshire office, said, “Derek was a real pioneer. Lighting consultancy as a professional discipline divorced from the commercial influences of supplying equipment was an unknown entity [before he founded DPA]. He believed passionately in providing the best advice possible for his clients and the practice motto was a quotation from Christie of Glyndebourne: ‘not to be satisfied with the best you can do but to do the best that can be done.'”

Phillips gave his time freely to lecture and help educate young designers, clients, other professionals and anyone interested and passionate about light in all forms. He believed education to be extremely important and participated with numerous institutions and their activities. He delivered the inaugural Waldram Lecture in 1990 and titled it “City Lights.”

He was chairman of Hertfordshire Association of Architects, a Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Council Member, president of the Illuminating Engineering Society, and vice president of the IALD, to which he was named a Fellow in 2001, and received the highest honor of a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.¬†You can view the IALD’s tribute to him, as well as his inspiring acceptance speech for the Lifetime Achievement Award, below.

Derek Phillips is survived by four of his children: Adam, Rebecca, Jemima, and Amelia, as well as twelve grandchildren, and was excited about the forthcoming birth of his first great-grandchild.

Derek Phillips’ funeral service will be held at 10:30 A.M. at St Lawrence Church, Bovingdon, Herts, on Friday, 29 November. The family has said that anyone who knew him will be welcome.

16 Nov