UK lighting designer Paul Davies wants to know why you pick the colors you do.

Davies, currently a professor at the University of Leeds, is conducting the survey to gauge the influences on LDs on both sides of the Atlantic. “I want to encourage designers to think about the lighting palette that they use and then to tell me about it in an on-line form which feeds into a data base,” he explains. “I wish to survey the color use for some typical applications and question designers as what processes/history influence their use of color. From this, I aim to assess color use in the US and UK. I am testing some observations and stereotypical differences I have heard of and observed. I would also like to hear from designers who have lit shows transferring across the Atlantic which have changed their color choices due to different directors, designers, or producers so I can test the color use when other variables are the same.”

The survey is part of a larger study that has also involved talking to filter manufacturers, designers, assistants, and color suppliers. The results of the study will likely be published in a juried periodical, as per the rules of academia, Davies adds.

A lighting designer and academic in the UK, Davies has also studied and worked in the US, and he is expanding his research from a seminar he gave at Showlight in Munich last March. “I would like to publicize some research I am doing which will be of some interest to your readers, particularly those who are lighting designers and educators,” Davies says.

In his presentation, Davies examined what factors changed and maintained the character of stage lighting design when it goes international. “I discussed work practices, training, equipment, theatre shape, tradition/mentoring, budget, subsidy, environment/audience expectations, etc.,” he says. “Among the differences I noted were those of color use; I had perceived that there was a difference in the predominant style between London and New York. For instance, there are cooler color palettes in the UK and greater use of warm tints in the US.”

Stan Miller, president of Rosco, happened to be in the audience at Showlight and found this aspect particularly interesting. “Prior to Showlight, I had contacted both Rosco and Lee to see if the sales figures would confirm my observations (they do partially but it is a complex picture and comparisons are not easy), so now I am approaching the designers who make the decisions to gain clearer conclusions,” adds Davies.

The study is online at, and Davies wants to get as many people to see it as possible, so as an incentive to fill in the form, Rosco and Lee have agreed to supply two large format swatches for a later drawing.