Lighting plays a crucial part in interior aesthetics today; no longer are they considered an afterthought. Lighting designers are now seen working in tandem with interior design firms to make the best use of the space, aesthetics, functionality and sustainable solutions. With such a massive canvas, the future of lighting is looking very bright indeed!
Light on, light off. A simple switch has revolutionised the way we work, and go about our everyday life. The first lightbulb changed the way we perceived time. No longer were we bound to the natural cycle of daylight. However, the simplistic nature of the lightbulb soon transformed into ornate chandeliers and ornaments that not only illuminated the space but greatly added to the aesthetic. Such diversification in the uses of light technology makes us wonder about the current status of this industry and what the future holds.
Designers are busy addressing any negative impacts of lighting on individuals and the climate at large. The product needs to adhere to sustainability guidelines, not only in production, but also in usage. One of the key considerations for future technologies is making sure that the product controls and optimises energy consumption. Another important aspect is making sure the product is reusable, and if not, then disposable.
“Materials like plastic are replaced with aluminum, etc, to minimise the use of harmful waste when the product is no longer in use,” says Fillipo Cima, Managing Director at Idea Associates. “We also need to consider light pollution that occurs as a result of improper planning.”
“Materials like plastic are replaced with aluminum, etc, to minimise the use of harmful waste when the product is no longer in use“
– Filipo Cima, Managing Director, Idea Associates
There is increased awareness and promise that future lighting will combat issues such as sky glow, light trespass, harmful substances (mercury, etc) and more. A good example is the upcoming Dubai Expo 2020, which is said to use sustainable lighting systems, recycled materials, solar technology, and building-integrated photovoltaic panels. These aspects combined with advanced lighting systems are a great example of an experiential environment that does not compromise on aesthetics yet ensures a much lower carbon footprint.
Above: Earth, Wind And Fire Light Installation for RTA, Dubai, by Idea Associates
Technology and Design
Artificial intelligence has infiltrated virtually every conversation on innovation. It makes sense then that AI in lighting technologies is a way to process information and create ‘smarter’ products. AI integration in lighting has helped pave the way for smart lighting solutions in public and private spaces. Walking into a dark area, for it only to be lit in seconds, would seem like something straight out of fiction a half a century ago. However with progressive technologies, lighting specialists are trying to implement ways in which light not only brightens the space but can be integrated with music and more.
Some of the latest systems are developed to emit light according to its geographical location and time. Take, for example, the Dyson LightCycle, which integrates a number of technologies, such as sensors and dimmers, to bring about a product that is multifunctional and so so smart. The LightCycle light detects the presence of an individual in a room and the amount of light already present, and delivers illumination based on these factors plus geographic location, the individual’s age and so much more. It can be synced with the Dyson app, which basically attunes to the natural rhythm of your body.
Above: Breath of Light and Carousel of Light by Preciosa
Other examples of motion sensors and detectors in light are Preciosa’s Breath of Life, Carousel of Life and Pearl Wave. Considered to be the brand’s signature pieces, these installations perfectly combine technology and design to create experiential moments that leave a lasting impression.
“I personally believe that it is not about the technology you are using but the way you apply it,” says Richard Schaffranek, Preciosa Innovation Lab Team. “Given Preciosa’s vision to connect people through light, Breath of Light, Pearl Wave, and our latest interactive installation, Carousel of Light, are good examples of this. We saw it with Breath of Light, when people blew into the sensors to create a sound and light spectacle. Adults were giggling like they were children again, bringing their friends over to experience it for themselves. And this is only the beginning.”
According to Richard, it’s not about integrating AI for convenience’s sake; it’s also about generating something that is unexpected or excites people to connect. It’s about creating an experience that subtly innfuses a positive feeling.
“The availability of new technologies allows us to create completely new opportunities to tell stories with light,” he says. “Smart Dubai will see the city incorporate technology of the future, including AI, smart living, and a sense of collective happiness.”
Above from left: Installation by Idea Associates, Preciosa’s Garden Installation, Dyson’s LightCycle Tasklight
More Than Just Illumination
Cities of the Future
Designers envision a more connected world via lighting. Some designers hope to manipulate the physical dimensions of a space through lighting, such as changing a windowless room into a light and airy space using light projects and installations. The possibilities are endless. Idea Associates has been the genius behind some of the most stunning lighting facades on the Burj Khalifa. “I would like to see cities interact with one other via lighting facades,” says Fillipo. “I would like people to communicate with each other across cities via light. Think about one person from a city playing Pac Man with another person in a completely different part of the world via light facades. Anything is possible.”
Schools would benefit tremendously if they paid attention to light conditions in their learning environments. A study supporting the relationship between improved lighting conditions and better wellbeing and performance, showed a slight decrease in aggressive behaviour within younger age groups (8 to 12), and an increase in positive social behaviour. The results also showed better reading comprehension, faster reading speed and fewer errors.
Given that lighting is a dominant factor in our brain’s ability to focus on a task, it now makes total sense that students in brightly lit classrooms scored better on tests than those seated in dimly lit ones. Plus, overall improvement in behaviour, and decreased anxiety and stress levels, also led to improved student health and wellbeing.
Lighting has a strong influence on people’s moods and health, and its benefits have only recently been addressed. Still in its nascent stage, the concept seems to gain more traction as the global conversation on mental health increases.. Besides the much talked about reasons, such as strain on eyes and visibility, lighting also affects the way we perceive an area, and any emotions that it invokes. Innovators in the field are looking into ways in which we can harness chromotherapy to provide a holistic environment.
Lighting has been integrated with fashion to create some of the most stunning outfits. Luminaires are looking towards LEDs, as not only do they have compact designs, but they are also highly ecological and can be recycled. Aesthetics combined with sustainability seems to be the way forward. MIT scientists have teamed up with KVA Architects to research a plant based lighting solution, using nanoparticles to engineer living plants with new functionalities. Think about bioluminescence on your very own balcony!
With buzzwords like innovation, technology, multifunctionality and sustainability invading lighting discussions, the future of this industry is truly exciting and endless.