As is often the case, after attending an engaging and informative continuing education class, I am compelled to share at least a fraction of the energy that I experienced today. When a class is good, it is energizing. This was a most illuminating lighting course!
We know that as interior designers that light plays a significant role in creating a scene. Whether task lighting, ambient lighting, spot lighting or washes of color – light plays an important role. What’s so exciting and compelling is the technology that is so rapidly changing the possibilities!
The profound change is a result of the perfected application of Light Emitting Diodes – LED lighting. Lynne Wilkinson takes the complexity of physics and speaks in plain language with a humorous and entertaining delivery distilling that which is incredibly complex into digestible information.
Here’s a link to Philips for more information:
So today I want to impart a tiny bit of the exciting content of this day. If a child asked you – “what is light?” How might you answer that? Um…well…it’s uh…Electromagnetic radiation. Duh! After clearing that hurdle, we settled into distinguishing the technology between incandescent and fluorescent and a number of other lighting sources. We discussed temperature Kelvin, luminescence, illumination and the atomic composition of protons, neutrons and electrons that are involved. So how is this interesting to YOU?
Well…inasmuch as we in the field have kept step with much of this terminology throughout our careers, and the sci-fi interpretations of the possibilities – the future is HERE! If you just look at I-Phones being only 10 years old, yes, 2007 – we’ve come a long way baby!! Nearly anything you can imagine already exists! And if it doesn’t yet, the brains in the incubators are racing to discover and invent the next iteration of these amazing possibilities!! Look at these cool dots and dashes dramatically streaking across a living room ceiling!
You probably know that LEDs are energy efficient. Have you noticed how dramatically their price has come down in the last, say, three years? They used to be $50 and now they are under $10.. They burn for 50,000 hours…but as they diminish, the quality of their light changes – they will burn long after the accuracy of their illumination has changed. Do you care?
So many health issues are still being discovered with regard to the effectiveness of lighting. Circadian rhythms – how your body is biologically on a timer. How it needs rest and waking hours. What interferes with the natural melatonin in your system that can affect your health. Dark is for sleep. Blue light versus red light can interfere with your good sleep? Here’s a hint – don’t leave computer screens or cell phones on in your bedroom – get rid of the clocks and other light-emitting devices when you are trying to sleep. AVOID the cool colors – blue especially.
To take this to a higher level of interaction, artificial lighting can be “tuned.” We know it can be dimmed and change color – but tuning is the technology of changing the temperature and related color to compliment the activity in the space. Your living room can be tuned to track the time of day to compliment warm early morning, bright cool mid day, dimming down to the warmth of an evening glow. Do you care? Maybe not today – but to better organize and track a busy day, this can be soothing to compliment your morning coffee…energize you into a more productive mode as the day progresses and calm you as the day closes. It might be handy if you lived in Scandinavia where the days are shorter and the desire to create a sense of daylight’s progression is real.
In an operating room – do you want your surgeon to see well into your body parts? By tuning the room in zones, you can place certain colors of light over the surgery to better illuminate and contrast the focal point or dim the light to read monitors better (as in many endoscopic procedures where they go in with a camera and don’t even see the action except on the monitors which are better read with a darkened surrounding quality of light or lack thereof), or brighten other areas where medical implements, keyboards, etc need brighter light to do the job. The understanding and ability to control these various light levels, colors and luminescence is becoming very apparent. Might ultimately be invaluable.
Back to interior design applications and concerns – the idea is to create effective, appropriate light and not see the source. I have always said this especially in the realm of landscape lighting – yes outside. I never use the “runway lights,” rather I chose to conceal the light source and have it spill, wash, spot and filter without giving away the source of the light. It is more subtle, effective, natural, soft, and pleasing. So in a kitchen, don’t let the under-counter lights be spotty, reflected on any adjacent dark or shiny surface, use smaller aperture ceiling fixtures (cans), hockey pucks in cabinets create shadows…with all the new LED tapes, fixtures and diffusers these faux pas are very avoidable.
Lightology has an exciting site full of great images, ideas and information
As recently as 18 months ago we were remodeling a bar and wanted to use LED tape the full-length beneath the long countertop – but the cost was significant. Today, that cost is a fraction of what it was. So I might be re-visiting that bar detail!!!
So many lights can be field modified cut and shaped. With the perfection of Organic LEDs, seemingly limitless possibilities exist. Imagine your laptop being so pliable that you can roll it into a tight tube and pack it effortlessly without fear of cracking or breaking. Light-weight and completely flexible. They exist.
Imagine an entire wall in your home that is a touch screen that can be installed as easily as wallpaper. Yes, pliable and paper thin, glued onto the wall and operate as a computer – all your news and information at your fingertips at a scale that commands the room. Smart surfaces – they exist.
Learn more from Planar
Learn more from Corning:
Back to now – smart homes can do so much from an app on your phone and lighting is a huge part of that control. You already know that you can turn you lights on and off from your phone on a beach in Tahiti. But did you know that your phone can be as small as a lipstick tube or small flashlight and have a retractable screen of flexible OLED – easy to hold, pack, carry and with a simple tug, click or push of a button reveal a thin full screen? It exists.
Learn more about OLED:
Architecture and interior design benefit greatly from this technology, but are probably the last to be jumping on the bandwagon. This technology is introduced in so many other aspects of our world before it gets to mere offices and residences. Fabric panel walls that have lights IN the fabric and can be controlled for color and movement, resin furniture glowing from inside that can be used outside in all-weather, stair treads that sparkle with glass embedded into them and coffee tables that have pressure sensitivity that when you touch them they respond. So many of these creative applications are already very cost-effective and remarkably accessible.
Here is more about glowing furniture from Marceladick:
A German company, Cerion, making exciting glass pieces embedded with LEDs
Glowing ceiling layers that once were inconvenient to replace lamps (bulbs) often were left dark rather than scale the heights to maintain. Now the long lasting light sources produce their glow for many years.
Fashion is also enhanced with the advent of these light sources in the actual fabrics. Models sporting luminous layers, glowing translucence, sparkling luminescence adding elements to clothing imagined. Think about draperies!
Here is a fashion-forward blog to share:
These exciting applications will be sure to get you thinking about the many possibilities. Love light? Use light!!