Cultural lighting shocks
Perth, 26th June 2010
Back in Perth and it always strikes me how different people experience and live life here. Climate and life style are so different from Shanghai. I guess many of us are familiar with the culture shock book series describing how each country has its own cultural heritage, habits and way of living. Does this also apply to lighting? Are there any cultural lighting shocks? It may seem a trivial question, but when you start thinking about it and also reflect on experiences from travelling around the globe, you realize that there are definitely some differences. But they are not necessarily cultural only and therefore not easy to classify and quantify.
There are the obviously different needs between the rich and the poor, between people living in the urban and rural environments or people living in developed and developing countries. Money (life style!), availability of energy and other resources play a major role here and will directly influence the priorities in regard of peoples lighting needs and the quality of light required. In remote and rural areas where agriculture and farming are dominant the lighting will be mostly basic and functional. In urban city environments, lighting will be more sophisticated and diversified. In developing countries the available power grid may not be stable and sufficient to sustain elaborate lighting systems and you will find that consequently the lighting standards are of a much lower recommendation then that of developed countries. That ultimately reflects in the quality and visual appreciation of lighting in general. People in some of these countries are already happy that they have light!
In general I experience that in Asia people like brighter, expressive and more colorful lights, while in Western countries the lighting is more measured, formal and organized. In the same breath I can also mention that people in the warmer countries (closer to the tropics) tend to like cooler white light colors whilst the cooler countries (further away from the tropics) prefer the warmer tones. This “lighting” shock is easier to understand as it directly relates to the psychological effect of the lighting. So geographical location and climate have definitely an influence on the way people use and apply lighting as a result they have different life styles and different lighting needs.