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Obituary: Janet Turner (1936 - 2015)

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One of the UK’s leading architectural lighting designers, Janet Turner has died, after a short illness, aged 78

Turner trained and practiced as an interior designer for some years before specialising in lighting design. She was design director at Concord Lighting for over 25 years and subsequently consulted internationally on building and spatial lighting with architects, designers and her fellow lighting designers.

Turner’s clients included The British Airports Authority, Future Systems (on the Nat West Media Centre at Lord’s Cricket Ground) and Alsop and Stormer (on the Peckham Library). Other projects included Queen Mary Medical and Dental School, Alsop and Partners’ Stonebridge Nursery and the Eastbeach Café with Heatherwick Studios. Turner was adviser on Park Hill in Sheffield, with Studio Egret West and the Hotel Villa Padierna and Linares complex, in Marbella with Ed Gilbert.

She was passionate about education and always generous in sharing her experience with students of architecture, design and lighting. Turner lectured extensively on all aspects of lighting, including engineering, design and application, product design and the perception, appearance and performance of light and lighting. Her expert lectures included: The Object of Desire, Lighting in Museums and Public Buildings, The Public Realm and Exterior and Landscape Lighting, Colour in Light and Architecture, Apples and Oranges – a personal account of working on two widely differing projects. She delivered these lectures in North and South America, the Middle and Far East, Japan, Iceland, China, Russia, Slovenia, New Zealand, Australia, Scandinavia and Europe.

Turner was very much involved in promoting the relatively recent specialisation of lighting design in which she excelled. Always preferring to work with architects from the conceptual stage, her skills in improving the performance and both day and night-time experience of buildings frequently helped guide their design approach. Many architects whom she worked alongside acknowledged her influence on the built form and materials palette of projects. Her strong-willed, clear-sighted determination to get it right, allied to a keen sense of humour and gently persuasive reasoning, brought innumerable admirers and long-term friends among both co-professionals and clients.

A fellow of the RSA and the Chartered Society of Designers, Janet was also an honorary fellow of the Society of Light and Lighting and the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS). She was the author of four books.

Turner’s unique personal style and love of lively, colourful, fashion ensured she got noticed in any room. However, it wasn’t just her bright clothes, attractive, high cheek-boned, features or hair colour that varied from belisha to pillar-box that attracted friends and followers. Turner was a thoroughly decent human being. She was vivacious, generous, charming and always fun to be around. She will be much missed.

Turner is survived by long-term partner, architect Christophe Egret, founder of Studio Egret West, her children Joanna and Jake and grandchildren Amber and Dexter.

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