Singapore, 22nd October 2012
No, not the Rolling Stones…my subject are the actual stones. As lighting designers we have to deal with all kinds of materials in the spaces we design for. Stone is one of them. I never knew there are so many different kind of stones, in fact just like lighting, there are actually “stone” fairs where major stone producers exhibit their latest stone designs. For us lighting designers there 3 major material characteristics that have an important influence on the way we apply our lighting. Recently I was shown some of the latest stones originating from the land of the stones…Italy.
The first characteristic that has a lot of influence on how we appreciate stones with lighting is the reflective capacity of the stone. The more the stone is polished the higher the reflection factor. This of course creates a high probability of reflective glare. The darker the colour, the more mirror-like the effect. It can be so strong that the reflection totally dominates the actual stone itself! I often have to advise the interior designer about the potential effects of certain highly polished stone selections. Moderate application and clever location of lights will go a long way. With lights generally located in the ceiling it is not difficult to understand that specifically floor finishes need a thoughtful selection in this respect.
Another key characteristic is the structure of the stone finish. Groves, indents or protruding wave patterns, mosaic’s worked into the stone surface can create very interesting plays of light and shadow, specifically when applied on vertical surfaces with a grazing light. It is a favourite application for me as it allows light to reveal the patterns of the stone together with sometimes unexpected shadow forms.
But one of the most interesting features that a stone can have is its translucency, it’s ability to let light through. Some stones have certain transparency that makes it an interesting material in combination with light. The various colours and patterns, together with light, using the back lighting technique can make for some interesting effects. One of the main issues when back lighting transparent stones is to make sure it is not “set in stone” in other words that the light is still accessible for maintenance! 🙂
Light Watch 3-162: See here some manufactured stones with their reflections, patterns and transparency.