Bright spot

Fresh ideas and new designs are bringing occasional lighting out of the shadows.

Leucos, ANALYSIS, Design

Fresh ideas and new designs are bringing occasional lighting out of the shadows.

Changes in form and fashion have altered the look of the lamp and other occasional lighting, but not the function.

Whether a design requires a soft glow of light or a bright spot of illumination, occasional lighting provides a flexible and versatile option for influencing the look of a room or open space. While fixed lighting in a ceiling will spread an even quantity of light around an entire room, table lamps and floor lamps will create atmosphere in a targeted zone.

Marina Toscano, the architect responsible for the research and development of FdV Firme di Vetro SpA, a company that owns six lighting brand divisions, explained the different uses.

"For example, a table light can be positioned beside a sofa: it creates a well enlightened zone close to the sofa, while other zones in the room rest dark," he said. "This differentiation creates a comfortable and relaxing ambiance, ideal for reading or watching TV.

The idea that occasional lighting is the source of a room's atmosphere and that fixed lighting, especially in a ceiling, provides a more utilitarian option, is one also expressed by the team at ANTA Leuchten.

"Table and floor lamps have the advantage, that they shine a warmer, smoother ‘island light' compared to wall and ceiling lamps. Compared to the standard ceiling lamps, they build up more intimate living and meeting zones.

"Nevertheless ceiling lamps are necessary for certain situations, such as cleaning a room.

While floor and table lamps offer a clear advantage in ease of installation and flexible lighting options, they also become an integral part of the decorative design.

As such they offer opportunities to bring touches of originality to spaces, as well as develop a room's atmosphere. Some lighting designs also incorporate a secondary furnishing function.

"Lamps can decorate and give a particular atmosphere to some corners of a room," said Mirco Chirico, of Adria Artigianato. "Some of our floor lamps have also a double function of lamp and holder, such as the P2100.

Our collection of floor lamps is a mix between design and art; they do not just light up and furnish a room, but they make the atmosphere of each environment unique and creative.

Ultimately the benefits of choosing one style of lighting over another will depend on the project itself.

"Some interior and/or exterior designs ask for a lighting approach where the objects and interior elements in those spaces have the same importance as the luminaries," said Orlando Marques, senior designer, for DPA Lighting Consultants.

It is, like the Swiss architect and designer Mario Botta said when referring to his table and floor lamp Shogun in 1986 " has to be a visible artifact with a function, an image...".

"In my opinion the decorative table and floor lamps we see nowadays are not much different from what we saw in the 80s. There is still a very interesting research in the use of the industrial materials to support the shapes.

"However, when it comes to the application of today's decorative luminaires, I think that they designed to fit more in the context of an architectural space nowadays than twenty years ago, which is, somehow, closer to what the architects and designers did about 50 years ago," said Marques.

An example of that, in my view, is the luminaire Hanabi by Nendo, that uses the heat of an incandescent lamp as part of the whole design intent."

Everyone has a different opinion about the way design has changed over the years, but it is clear that lighting design has evolved in parallel with other trends, while also freeing itself from any predetermined formula.

"The design of table lamps and floor lamps over the past 20 years has changed the same way as the design in general has evolved," said Nathalie Abou Jaoude, managing director of Abensal.

"The use of new material available, colors, shapes as well as light sources has given tools to lighting designers to play and create.

"There are no more boundaries in the shapes colors and material of table lamps nowadays. The conventional lamp with a fabric shade has given way to a variety of designs, such as metallic bases, chrome finishes, polycarbonate bodies with fluorescent bright colors and silk threaded shades."

An expanded palette of materials has added new layers to design possibilities and styles from different decades are being revisited. This means that some companies are seeing greater use of bold colours, while others feel the design mood is becoming more sober. The combination of a minimal style with a bold decorative statement is the result when these two opinions meet in design.

"The design in the last 20 years has faced up to huge changes,"either from the materials or the importance of the design,"colours, innovation and techniques," said Chirico.

"Our aim is to use the best designers and materials on the market to create one-of-a-kind furnishing accessories, completely finished and hand-decorated. The Style Centre within our company, is composed of a team of designers and artists, and creates new product trends in constant evolution.

"We have noticed that the trends are in the use of materials such as wood and metal, or innovative fabrics such as non-woven fabric and that the trendiest colours are orange, black and whites, red and yellow.

As well as being influenced by fashion, technology and improved manufacturing techniques have also had a part to play in lighting design.

"Technology plays a very important role in the engineering, planning and design of furniture and lamps," said Chirico. "The possibility of using new materials is also very important.

When our designers study new items the most important target is to create something different, unusual and exclusive. Since all our items are decorated and painted by hand, they also look for innovative effects created by new materials, painting and fabrics."

Toscano and his team also see how advances in manufacturing techniques can add to the selection of options when designing lamps.

"Many different new technologies affect the design of lighting," said Toscano. "They can allow us to produce more sophisticated manufacturing and can sometimes let us achieve lower production costs. Using moulds and manufacturing with industrial processes, even for economic reasons, can positively influence design as it brings more liberty and creativity to proposals.

More energy-efficient light sources are also emerging and variety is increasing as previously fledgling technologies develop. The use of LED lighting is a great example of a technology that is already changing the industry, although it still comes with limitations.

"We can say that the new technology considered could be LED, but it is not yet widely applied for table lamps," said Jaoude. "It is still more common for outdoor lighting, indication light, spotlights. However, some desk lamps with sleek designs are available with LED, for example Gio/TA from Studio Italia Design.

DPA Lighting Consulting's Marques also sees LEDs as an integral part of the future.

"I am very enthusiastic about the recent advances in the LED technology, with its color rendering and increased luminous flux (light output/efficiencies)," he said. "I think that the design of the future is a balanced approach of the use of traditional and the new light sources."

With development activity and new applications consistently being created the variety of opportunities for the use of occasional lighting looks set to grow. This will provide manufacturers and designers alike the chance to show their skills in new ways.

A future without shades and shadows?

By Rudie Hoess, general manager of Belight

Ever since candles were used to brighten dark nights or generate illumination for festivities, we have replicated the concept of a single (lantern style) or multiple sources (such as chandeliers) with candle-like light sources relying almost entirely on the incandescent light bulb, which is now reaching its long over due end-of-life.

In a world that is increasingly concerned about global warning and the use of renewable energy and is finally determined to reduce wastage of energy (in this case electricity), an incandescent light bulb is not an environmentally sound lighting solution.

While the original candle generated a light that was easy on the eye and its flicker added movement to the light, static, incandescent lights have to be hidden behind shades to avoid irritating eye contact with the naked light source.

Because pendant, or fixed ceiling lights are again simulating the centrally located chandeliers of the past, aiming to light a whole space, they mostly succeed to light the ceiling without illuminating the space below. This has created the need for additional, mostly portable lights to illuminate space where we need light, such as the writing desk, the dining room table and the bed-side table.

As with all functional requirements in our life, we face the need to provide for function, and form, to create an object more attractive and even beautiful to enhance our living space. This desire to beautify our living space created a plethora of designs influenced by available technology and the need to cater for ever changing tastes.

Precious materials such as silks and crystals have always been used to beautify light sources. Crystals tend to amplify the light source and, as these crystals are often mounted loosely, their gentle movement tends to recreate the sensation of movement reminiscent of the original flicker of candlelight.

Environmental considerations, enforced by local or government authorities, are forcing the reduction of use of the incandescent light bulb as we know it. This has created a search for better and more useful and efficient light sources, favouring at this point the clearly superior light sources created by LEDs.

Importantly, these low powered devices are not only generating usable light, their small size, low power requirements are argument enough to implement LED generated light as quickly as possible. Yet the nature of LED generated light will require new form factors to house and project light, no longer are we bound by the traditional point of light limitations typical for light bulbs.

We can, and are already, creating new form factors for these lights and, while currently most of the LEDs are used in a "hidden" manner behind curtain rods, ceiling coves and other indirect methods, two developments are critical for the evolution of these light sources into decorative end practical light that still add beauty to our living spaces.

Just as ceilings and walls will become the light sources (lamp shades if you will) of our future living and working spaces, there will be "light objects" that will add light and beauty to any space, removing dreaded dark corners and shadows while generating even daylight simulating light surfaces, with options to add colour at will to soften a space depending on moods and personal preferences.

And yes, we will have table lights, but more likely furniture with light emitting surfaces. Statues and other objects of art will add gentle light to spaces reducing the limiting sensation a room generates when walls and furniture tends to crowd in on you, we will have the opportunity to seemingly add space and light, diminishing the space limitations we are used to.

The search for packaging these new light forms will not necessarily make our trusted and expensive objects of lighting redundant, they will still add beauty and value to our homes but maybe not for the light they generate.

Alternatively, we will be able to upgrade our chandeliers by adding the appeal of a flickering candle with glimmering candles housing LEDs, giving you candles that last more than 20 years without any replacement or maintenance and using about one tenth of a similar bulb's power.

There is room for the romantic and traditionalists to adopt this technology and make a contribution to energy conservation.

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