Aug 262011

We frequently blog about home lighting tips, but rarely do we share photos of homes with professionally designed lighting. It’s fun to see the style in a celebrity’s kitchen or to read about the projects an architect might take on in his own home, but the best homes to peek into are the ones that showcase room after room of professional lighting. What better place to see that than in the home and office of our nation’s president?

Although 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has housed every U.S. president except George Washington, there have been a few decorative changes over the years. Congress allocates money every four years for maintenance and redecoration of the 132 rooms. The Committee for the Preservation of the White House must approve changes to historic rooms and public spaces, but the living quarters on the upper floors may be updated without consultation.

George W. and Laura Bush added CFL light bulbs during their time in the White House (along with low-flow faucets and solar heating). It’s impossible to catalog each lighting change the building has seen, but photos speak to how beautifully each room is lit. Continue reading »

 Posted by on August 26, 2011 at 10:11 am
Aug 122011

Classroom Concentration Lighting Classroom Lighting Impacts Learning: Research Study

When the Philips SchoolVision lighting system was installed in a German primary school, the teachers were probably dubious that there would be measurable results.

Sure, the SchoolVision system was specifically designed to improve learning environments: A touchpad allows the teacher to select between four lighting levels for the optimum atmosphere during lessons. For example, an “Energy” setting features high intensity light in a cool color tone, recommended for first thing in the morning or after lunch. A “Calm” setting has a standard intensity level and a warm color tone for use in a hyperactive classroom. “Normal” and “Focus” similarly use light to create the ideal setting for students.

But would such subtle changes in lighting make a difference? Apparently, yes! A year-long study of 166 pupils and 18 teachers in SchoolVision classrooms was conducted in Hamburg, Germany. Standard tests used to measure levels of attention and concentration found that reading speed among the students increased by 35% and hyperactivity decreased by 76%.

The findings correlate with several other studies into the effects of SchoolVision. According to my research, SchoolVision has not yet been installed in any classrooms in the United States. What do you think: Would it be a valuable addition to our school systems?

Aug 042011

Shoe Display at House of Fraser The Link Between Color Rendering & Buying Shoes: A Case StudyWhen it comes to designing enticing displays in retail stores, there’s a lot more that goes into it than deciding where the “Sale” sign should go. Studies have shown that buying decisions are affected by store layout, lighting, music, and even scent.

The Smell & Taste Research Foundation in Chicago has conducted a number of studies evaluating how certain scents can impact mood and perception. One study placed an identical pair of Nike sneakers in two identical rooms – except one was sprayed with a mixed floral scent and one was odorless. When shoppers filled out surveys evaluating the sneakers, a whopping 84 percent said they preferred the sneakers in the floral-scented room, and that they’d pay about $10 more for them. Clearly, sensory perceptions affect our opinions on products.

Lighting, of course, has a significant impact on retail display as well. A recent study published in LEDs Magazine indicated that the degree of color rendering in a display may have an impact on sales.   Continue reading »

Jun 222011

a 300x90 1 Travel the World in Search of Lighting InspirationPhilips has launched an incredible competition in the name of lighting inspiration.  They are searching for one person with enough passion for lighting to travel the world for three months.  Along the way, that individual will share inspirational lighting installations & designs through photographs, videos, and blog posts.

It’s called the Light World Tour.  The sign up and voting period started June 1 and goes through August 8.  You can see the Top 10 Entrants so far at

If your dream job is to travel the world in search of lighting inspiration, by all means, enter the competition!  All you have to do is write about experiences that qualify you and what your ideas are for the tour.

Also, vote for your favorite entrant using Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.

I know I am very excited to follow the winner’s blog in September – what an amazing opportunity!

Jun 012011

photosynthesis lamp Photosynthesis LampThis lamp from product designer Meirav Peled Barzilay creates a natural growing lampshade.  The hanging metal grid only requires a light bulb and the vine of your choice.  Over time, the plant is meant to “fill in” the grid, forming an incredibly unique lampshade that blends outdoor aesthetic with indoor design.

The product is called the Photosynthesis Lamp.  There are other versions available with the same idea.

Designers, what do you think: Would you use something like this?

May 242011

Bridge of Sighs 150x150 How to Capitalize on SunlightSunlight is the most natural way to light a space, and every lighting designer knows that it’s an important component to consider before planning a project.  Knowing where the afternoon rays come in, or which window dawn streams in first, can help a designer understand where to fill in the gaps.  It’s still important to create “layers of light” throughout an entire space, but capitalizing on sunlight as much as possible is a core rule in lighting design.

With Paint …

If you paint in lighter colors (think white, soft yellow, and beige), the sun will reflect off the walls more easily and bounce light further into your home.  Also, choose a glossy paint finish to enhance those light reflections.  Eggshell is an excellent option.  It has a low sheen that looks great on walls, and it will also hold up better than a flat finish. Continue reading »

May 032011

Artist Leo Villareal creates light sculptures and site installations that form dazzling displays across the world.  Shown below: Diagonal Grid, A site-specific installation at a music house in Istanbul, Turkey and Multiverse, A permanent installation in Washington, D.C.’s National Gallery of Art.

Villareal designs software to control the lights. Sequences of imagery and changes in intensity create captivating works of art. As Villareal explains, “These are devices that can take you places with a group of people in an open-ended way.”

Diagonal Grid Light Art Multiverse Light Art

I was reading about this artist this morning and came across a charming fact. Villareal designed an installation for his own New York West SoHo loft. It’s a night light for his six-year-old son in the form of a floor-to-ceiling sculpture. Or, as his son calls it, “one of Daddy’s blinkies.”

Apr 052011

wedding lighting Wedding Lighting Design: Worth Every Penny?

A New York Times article recently described a trend in wedding planning involving a focus on lighting design.  The couple featured in the article hired a lighting company to project a personalized “logo” onto the dance floor and onto the bride’s gown during the reception.

There’s certainly no question that wedding budgets can range from shoestring to extravagant.  The most expensive wedding to date cost $60 million, according to Forbes Magazine.  It was the union of Vanisha Mittal (daughter of billionaire Lakshmi Mittal) and investment banker Amit Bhatia back in 2004.  Just to give you an idea: The six-day celebration was held on a 17th-century French chateau, invitations were sent out in a 20 page book made of silver, and the wine tab came out to $1.5 million.

Now, back to lighting design.  Do you think it deserves a prominent place in the average wedding budget (which was approximately $24,070 in 2010)?

Continue reading »

Mar 072011
led constellation Rethinking Lighting Design

An “LED constellation chandelier”. Image via Inhabitat.

Lighting designer James Bedell wrote an insightful blog post last weekend that I wanted to share here. His point was that the discussion around LEDs today seems to be all centered around the “science” of the source rather than the “art” of it.

It’s probably true.  With the upcoming legislation changes mandating new lighting efficiency standards, it’s easy to focus on how LEDs can replace incandescent bulbs and fail to mention the other implications of this amazing technology.

LEDs are incredible because they do not require you to light up a room using a bulb: With LEDs, lighting can take all sorts of shapes and sizes. We no longer need to conform light fixtures to accommodate a bulky bulb, and that opens up the window to endless design possibilities.  I talked a little about this in my post IKEA & the End of the Incandescent Light Bulb.

Sure, LEDs are available in the shape of traditional bulbs. This is simply to ease the transition into more energy-efficient lighting, and to provide products to fit into the fixtures we already have.

Let’s start thinking about lighting as art again… we have a tremendous opportunity. James Bedell

This is an exciting time for the lighting industry. In the next decade, the way we light our homes and businesses is likely to change drastically.  Let’s see where LEDs take us!

Like Our Blog?

Sign up to receive each new post delivered directly to your email inbox.

Are you human?
5 + = twelve