Layers of light
Singapore 18th January 2012
Opting for an “early” entry today as I will be off later for a meeting and not sure what time I will be back (and in what state :)) as I will be attending a friend’s birthday dinner party after that.
Lighting design is very much about understanding the laws of perception. We don’t design for lux meters, we design for people to work in and enjoy their environment. So in the end lighting is all about what is created as a visual environment and how we as human beings will perceive and appreciate it. A down light produces a certain light distribution and it is how we play and have this light distribution interact with its architectural environment that we create the visual environment that you will experience. Hence understanding the psychology of seeing, human perception, is key to a good lighting design.
Part of my day was dedicated (still is, just taking a small break to write this entry) to breaking up the proposed lighting design concept in layers of light and build up the “lighting psychology” into an understandable presentation. While we see what we see and generally accept that as a given, we do not always understand why it was created that way, what the role of the lighting is and if it wasn’t done that way, what the (negative) consequences would be. So this breaking up of the lighting design in layers (components) of light serves to educate the client at the same time on how we came to our final concept, by building up the lighting effects and explaining their role step by step. The end result of a lighting design is a composition, an integrated combination of a multitude of lighting components, similar to an orchestra, where all the individual instruments and the part they play combine to the become the final piece of music that you hear.
Understanding the role of each lighting component is crucial to our lighting design team as well. We design with reason so by consciously focussing on each layer of light and making sure we have fully understood and maximised its potential we can confidently face the client when presenting the total lighting design concept.
Light & Learn 3-2: It is probably a good time to share some basic elements of perception as part of Light & Learn for this week. One of the laws of perception says that what is brighter seems larger and further away. What is darker seems smaller and closer by. In a schematic representation of a space with a floor, a ceiling and 3 walls (see below) I am showing the effects of light and brightness in an architectural environment. The white surfaces are the brightly lit ones, those colored the ones are not illuminated. You will see that the space in the 1st looks close-by and bigg, the 2nd deep and small, the 3rd low and wide and the 4th high and narrow. It is of course the same space…it’s the lighting that creates the difference.