Artificial lighting is, at certain times of the day and night, and potentially in particular places in a deep-plan building, as important as natural light in bringing architectures and landscapes to life for both practical and poetic experience.
Uncle John’s where new dimmable ambient lighting combined with a graduated gray colour scheme and a dramatic neon brand-sign work for both daytime diner and dramatic evening seafood boil menu
On many of our projects we generate our own lighting solutions, including fixture specification, and work with an electrical engineer to ensure emergency and code required conditions are met.
Eleni Savvidou is our lighting specialist and has had major experience in museum (Momi, NYC; VMFA Richmond VA, Lincoln Center) retail (Vitra, NYC; Channel, Beverly Hills) and hospitality (Harbourfront Mall, Singapore; Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Lounge, JFK) sectors. Find out more about Eleni.
We like to provide flexibility of light ‘type’ - ambient, accent, task - in a single space, and allow a mixing between them with separately switched and dimmable circuits. Typically where emergency lighting is required we incorporate our general lighting on the emergency circuit to avoid distracting fixtures.
Generally, we prefer to experience the effect of the fixtures than the hardware itself, though there are exceptions where a physical statement makes sense.
this new bar for TBWA\Chiat\Day employs a colour changing movie-industry inflatable studio fixture to provide a beacon and general lighting, whilst the back bar is lit with led linear fixtures. A film projected on the shipping container provides a different kind of accent for a rich experience of natural and artificial light that is not visually complicated by competing light hardware
Another interesting approach is to light a wall and treat it as the light source. Here, framed panels in Crosstown Art’s east atrium for projected digital art and on-surface painting also help to illuminate the space.
Physiological understanding of the human eye is important to making the right choices in colour temperature (how warm or cool the light effect is) and also light levels. Perhaps counter intuitively, artificial lighting levels can be lower at night when the competing effect of natural light is gone, and contrast is not so extreme. The brighter the light level, the more consistently applied it needs to be to avoid the effect of perceived ‘dark spaces’.
We tend to keep domestic conditions ‘warmer’, in the 2700K - 3000K range, general working conditions, exhibition and retail in the 3000K - 3500K range, and specialist work conditions around 4000K to 4500K. For more information on colour temperatures we like this guide:
Exterior lighting, both for landscapes and building façades, is also critical and the same approaches apply. We veer away from overly light exterior spaces, looking instead for calm moments that feel safe
for our custom stone bench and parasol design at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, we worked with L’Observatoire International to create a glowing zone beneath the bench that also up-lit the parasol, for very intimate spaces against the backdrop of the imposing 5th Avenue façade.