Dennis Beard is the Director of Product Design for LBL Lighting, which is based in the Chicago suburb of Skokie, IL. Prior to joining LBL Lighting in 2010, Beard was artistic director at Philips Consumer Luminaires, and before that he was product designer at Lightolier/Forecast Lighting.
Known for delivering design-infused, glamorous lighting with an innovative twist, Beard's daring fixtures are inspired by his background in the theater and fashion as well as his interest in art, jewelry, nature and architecture. He's part of the team at LBL Lighting which has further expanded the brand's leadership in the suspension, flush, wall, bath and outdoor categories during the last two years.
A 2012 ARTS Award product designer nominee, Beard holds a BA in Fine Arts from Indiana University, degrees in graphic design plus photography from the University of Louisville and a design degree from the prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in NYC, where he graduated summa cum laude AAS and won the 1996 FIT Critic Award. He's also the recipient of the 2003 Lightolier Presidents Award.
Beard lives in Chicago and enjoys the fine arts, opera and fashion design.
How has fashion influenced your design process?
I've designed so many things throughout the years. I've designed costumes and props for the theater, florals, and interior and fashion designs. All these experiences have influenced my design process equally. The process is the same when creating something, from idea to design to a prototype and then the final product. For lighting, the key is maintaining the essence of the design despite any required engineering changes.
Where do you find the inspiration for your designs?
We all see the same things. How they're interpreted is what makes a designer or artist unique. Much of my inspiration started when I grew up in a household with no TV. I was able to interpret life experiences and create my own imaginative worldwhich still drives my approach today.
How do you begin your day? Is it routine or different each day?
Every day is different. I have no two days alike.
Describe your state of mind when you're creating a piece?
What works best for me is to always be open, let things happen and to interpret familiar objects as if I'm seeing them for the first time.
When did you know you wanted to design lights?
After earning degrees in the Fine Arts, graphic design and photography, I then went to the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City where I won the 1996 FIT Critics Award. I transitioned to lighting after that by working for three lighting companies before joining LBL Lighting as its Product Designer. I love lighting because it ties together all the design elements of a space. When putting together a room for the first time or during a remodel, consumers should think about their lighting at the same time they're thinking about floor and window treatments, furniture, art and paint.
Which creative people have influenced you the most?
Barbra Streisand and Dolly Parton. Each overcame difficult childhoods and personal challenges to become iconic artists.