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When lighting designer Kevin Cawley is trying to convey the importance of lighting to clients or groups he takes along a lightbulb and shows them.

"It's really difficult to talk about light, but if you show people the difference between a cold lightbulb and a warm one, they'll get it straight away. Humans don't do cold light. Insects for example will leave in droves and foliage will die if you put a bright white light on in their living environment."

This year has been exceptionally busy for one of New Zealand's most accomplished and respected lighting designers. He was speaking in Auckland in March, New York in May, is currently in Melbourne and potentially India next month - mainly offering his view on lighting public spaces.

A memorable recent project for Kevin was lighting the very earthquake damaged Knox Church at the entrance of Victoria Street, Christchurch.

"Pretty much all that was left was the roof and I was asked to illuminate the church for Christmas. There was no budget for it so I had to improvise with the lighting which was existing."

Kevin worked with the principle of 'less is more' by refocussing the lights, switching lights off and directing them to where he wanted them to go.

The end result was traffic stopping and earned him the 2012 Illuminating Engineering Society Award for Excellence.

"It doesn’t cost a lot of money to create beautiful lighting. And you might get someone in the room focussed on dollars and cents who thinks "great, this is going to be cheap". It's my job to convince this person on the real value of what good lighting can bring to a project. Often I feel myself taking on the role of a politician instead of a designer."

And asked if he prefers ceiling over wall lighting…

"I'm more for lighting the ceiling from cove light - I always want to see the light and not the light source - unless it's a beautiful pendant of course."