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Act Lighting Design. And the light shone. Design - 01 February 2017

Portrait Koert Vermeulen (c) Alfredo Salazar Photography

Koert Vermeulen, from Brussels, entered lighting just as he entered his teenage years. Since then, the founder of ACT Lighting Design has dreamt it up, designed it, built up a relationship with it and caressed it to tell stories. Assisted by a 23-strong team - architects and specialists in lighting design, set designers and engineers - he works on lighting solutions for one-off and permanent events, making the most of sites and buildings.  Today, ACT Lighting Design (ACTLD) is internationally renowned for its expertise. Not a particularly surprising success story, but a reflection of the passion with which this brilliant man, self-taught, expresses what he does.

Koert Vermeulen entered the world of lighting at a very young age. "When I was 14. I had friends older than me who were having great fun in musicals. The time had come for me to replace people who were beginning to court girls. So I was able to put some money away and buy some second-hand lighting equipment which I began to hire out.  At a concert in Antwerp, I met a "tour manager" who told me that my equipment had potential. He put it in strategic places, and then added a bit of smoke. So you could see the beams of light, and the atmosphere became utterly magical.  I was fascinated. So I decided to pursue a career in lighting.” ACT Lighting Design was established in 1995.


Tell me more!

 Since then, work has blossomed, in Belgium and internationally. This is especially explained by the diversity of the services which the Belgian company offers. "Our clients call upon us both for one-off and permanent projects, in architecture and in artistic disciplines", explains Koert Vermeulen. Our spectrum is vast: scenery, video, lighting, sound and content creation. Our job is also like being the conductor of an orchestra, guiding the different specialists. We are very flexible and play different roles, although lighting remains a constant. We ensure that everything which the eye sees is in-keeping, and is thought out with a constant desire for consistency. 30 years ago, it was the set designer who created the atmosphere. As new technology comes out, the lighting designer plays as important a role as the set designer.


Surprising and reassuring

 How does this actually come to be? Every project has a story to tell, with a pace, tone, quiet moments and climaxes, which must be expressed visually.  A few examples? "We have designed the lighting for the Grand Place, for public events during the Plaisirs d’Hiver. As you walk there for pleasure, the Grand Place is beautiful yet serene, its nature simple and delicate. What more can we say? For events held during the Plaisirs d’Hiver, our job is to add different layers. The process differs a little when you are asked to illuminate Schaerbeek civic offices. We are there to enhance the building; the light sources must be invisible. And when designing the set for a show or play, lighting becomes one of the disciplines which supports the narrative.  "There are times when light must be clearly present and others when it must be invisible to focus on an actor, film or effect. I am especially thinking of the event at the Puy du Fou theme park in Vendée. It is the world's greatest permanent event, with 2,000 actors on a 23-hectare set, 600 animals... It lasts 1 hour 40 minutes. 14,000 spectators are seated in the stands, outside. There is ample lighting, as without it, you would quite simply not see anything. It supports, and sometimes tells a story. It is a major public event and at no time during the show is any protagonist revealed. Every colour reflects an emotion. For example, red has been chosen to illustrate battle scenes. The important thing is to find codes which will be understood by all and ensure a degree of consistency.” And then seduce, reassure, amaze, draw in the crowds… The very best magicians, translators, technicians... for the people who work for ACT Lighting Design, the sky is the limit, and their expertise continues to seduce artists, builders and dream-makers worldwide.

By Estelle Toscanucci


News / Bright Brussels Festival

See the work of ACTLD for yourself at the Bright Brussels Festival's final event from 2 to 5 February 2017. An artistic installation, "Naked Truth", accompanied by music and light, will be staged at Quai des Péniches, between Sainctelette Square and Place des Armateurs in Brussels.

Plaisirs d'Hiver 2014 Electrabel nights (c) 2016 ACTLD photo by Leslie Artamonow

Indian wedding (c) 2016 Balich Worldwide shows - all rights reserved

Indian wedding (c) 2016 Balich Worldwide shows - all rights reserved

Puy du Fou (c) 2016 ACTLD photo Leslie Artamonow

Puy du Fou (c) 2016 ACTLD photo Leslie Artamonow

Puy du Fou (c) 2016 ACTLD photo Leslie Artamonow

Puy du Fou - Dernier Panache (c) 2016 ACTLD photo Alain Moneger

Schaerbeek Stadhuis (c) 2016 ACTLD - all rights reserved

For whom?


Further information

Bright Brussels Festival
2-5.02.2017, Brussels (BE)
Installation Naked Truth

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