Lighting Studio: Light Materials and Space Spring 2011 Blog week 13

The nature of colour.

While researching light and colour I first looked into classic theories of  colour described in, Primary Sources selected writings on color from Aristotle to Albers (edited by Patricia Slone Design Press New York 1991). The early views of colour and light concern themselves with the ideas of white being the most important colour and black being the lack of colour or as Aristotle puts in the colour of no light. Aristotle also contends in his essay De Coloribus (322-269 B.C.) that colour is made by the blending of light and colour, and that light itself is required to see colour. This is the first recorded attempt to form a theory of colour rendering by light.

Later Leonardo Da Vinci goes on to place white and black as the two most important colours, indeed you don’t have to look beyond his most famous painting The Mona Lisa to see how prominently black and white are used. Black and white form the basis of painting and all other colours fade in or out of them.

This I believe forms the basis of how we see, what our eyes pick up is the spectral power distribution of light reflected of objects. Spectral power distribution is a physical fact in that we can prove its existence; colour exists only in our eyes and brain, in order for humans to be able to function we need to build a three dimensional picture of the world around us and our eyes and brain in conjunction do this. However what if we didn’t use our eyes to build that picture we instead used our ears. Richard Dawkins once offered the idea that as bats live in a world of sound that they hear in colour in order to form the three dimensional world around them (The Ancestor’s Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Life, 2004, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London).  Dawkins then goes on to discuss the Platypus’s hunting method of seeing with electronic impulses from its bill. The Platypus closes its eyes and ears and ‘opens’ its bill to find its prey. Dawkins believes that the eyes and eyes being shut cut off that form of sensory perception and leave only a highly complex one its place that can best be interoperated through colour.

So the black and white, light and no light the blends of light, colour in between, form an interpretable world. However they may not exist only in light but also in sound and electronic impulses.


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Lighting Studio: Light Materials and Space Spring 2011 Blog week 12

Altering space through refracting light.

Haruka Kojin has a new instillation at the museum of contemporary art Tokyo ‘contact lenses’.

“Two types of lenses are used, one completely flat and clear and the other with a warped surface to create interconnected circles of varying sizes. as the light travels through the acrylic, the images on the other side are flipped and contorted, changing the experience of the space. Since the elements are clear with no frames or distinct features of its own, the physical material merges into the environment, only visible through the transformation it causes” (design boom Nov 12th 2011).

Altering the light in the space through reflection and refraction changes the nature of the space.




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Lighting Studio: Light Materials and Space Spring 2011 Blog week 11

Metal Research

While working on my luminaire project with metals I was interested in how light will reflect off metal and form a warm glow. Dutch designers David Derksen and Lex Pott have created ‘transience’ (design boom Nov 11th 2011), in which they have simulated oxidation thru adding sulphur to the surface of mirrors.

This could expand the luminous efficacy of a lamp while adding a warm glow (lower Kelvin) to the lamps’ light.

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Lighting Studio: Light Materials and Space: Blog week 10

Limitations of Xicato LEDs

Xicato lighting has developed a new way to create LED lamps to give a consistency of colour rendering without the need for LED binning which can create differences in light colour and rendering through the broad range of LED colour that may appear in a single bin.

                                                                        Xicato SXM LED lamp

Xicato takes white blue LEDs and places them in the lamp and then places a phosphor filter over the top of them. This filter is then “dialled” to create a consistent colour rendering regardless of the quality of the LEDs. Giving the lamp very high colour rendering right across both the saturated and non-saturated colours on the colour rendering index (CRI).

                                                          Xicato SXM LED lamp cross section

However, this poses questions that lighting designers have debated since the introduction of the CRI.  What are we using artificial illuminates for? And, do we want them to render colour accurately?

Surgeons working in an operating theatre high lux and high RCI requried.

A lamp that does render colour very well, one that scores highly on the CRI would be idea for a surgeon working in an operating theatre where it may be very important to see subtle difference in colour. However would you want that same lamp in a restaurant where two people are having an intimate experience with highly honest and accurate colour rendering?

A romantic dinner saturated colour rendering preferable to accurate colour rendering.

Studies have shown that our memory of colour is more saturated than the actual colour we are remembering; therefore we could conclude that we have an idealised view of colour and prefer more saturated colours.

Xicato calls its high CRI lamp range the “Artist Series XSM” I believe this name and concept is wrong. The lamps which have a high CRI are for engineers, (or highly specialised professionals and tasks as mentioned above) when you have the ability to “dial” a lamp’s rendering of colour an “artist serries” should be lamps which saturate certain colours to create comfortable environments for human activities.

The future of lighting design, I believe,  will see a range of LED lamps which are designed to saturate colour to suite the human activity that will be undertaken in that space. As an artificial light source is creating an artificial environment, we as lighting designers are not simply trying to recreate sunlight inside.

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Lighting Studio: Light Materials and Space Week 8

Lighting in The Paragon Cafe Katoomba NSW

The Paragon Cafein Katoomba built around 1934-1936 is a good example of an early electric lighting scheme in Australia and the focus in illuminance in that lighting scheme creates an enjoyable eating environment. In photos 1 to 6 (below) which show the front shop area and the first both seating it is important to note that there is no down lighting.

photo 1

photo 2

The main room lighting is provided by 2 glass chandeliers, the daylight coming in through the shop front, some wall lights and the task lighting over the two work areas (see photos 5 & 6).

photo 3

photo 4

photo 5

photo 6

The cocktail lounge at the rear of the building provides a lovely warm light with the minimum of lights, two chandeliers and four wall lights , no windows and lots of mirrors.

photo 7

photo 8

The use of the mirrors in conjunction with the wall lights and the warm wall colour (see photo 8 above) creates the warm illumination ideal for personal interaction. This shows the importance of lighting the space not lighting the room and the interaction between light and materials.




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Lighting Studio: Light Materials and Space: Week 5

Park Light 2011 Entry.

The park light competition was held this year at the National Trust Building on Observatory Hill in Sydney. Each entrant was randomly placed into a team, with a theme, randomly given a selection of lights and randomly given a section of the building and grounds to light. Our team was given the theme of Gemini, the twins and the planet Venus, being the broad design parameters. The team was then given part of the front facade of the main building to light.

The main lighting to the front facade was provided by; a metal halide with a narrow beam angle with a green gel used as an up light placed at on the steps at the front of the opening and a L.E.D. spot light aimed at the centre of the wall.

These lights in conjunction create the complimentary green and red colouring and highlighting of the building’s details. Highlighting the two columns is representative of the twins.

A L.E.D. street light with a red gel lights up the main door and entry way providing a sharp contrast between the white facade and the red entry alcove, using colour rather than shadow to create this contrast.

High above the entry is the coat of arms this has been subtly lit by another L.E.D. spot the coat of arms cannot be seen at all time and it depends on you angle of view this is symbolic of earth’s relationship with Venus as it too can only be seen at limited times.

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Lighting Studio: Light Materials and Space Week 4

UTS Lighting

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Lighting Studio: Light Materials and Space: Week 3

German designer Reinhard Dienes has designed Punch Light, a new light fitting exploring the reflexive nature of stainless steel. The light fitting consists of two components a powder coated coloured metal bracket to hold the lamp and a stainless steel diffuser The diffused light makes an interesting pattern and reflects the light in the opposite direction.

The use of stainless steel in this manner creates a soft glow lighting effect either by using the light as a down light or by placing the light on a table and using the soft reflection of the light off the stainless steel diffuser like a table lamp.

For this light fitting to be used successfully it requires a warm light lamp, as the highly reflective nature of the stainless steel is unforgiving with a cool white lamp.

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Lighting Studio: Light Materials and Space: Week 2

London based designer Alex Hamond has explored the luminous nature of glass and acrylic in his new work Tube Table.

Tube Table consists of a powder coated steel frame and a sheet of laser cut white acrylic sandwiched between 2 sheets of glass. The pattern cut into the acrylic is the London tube map.

The effect created by Hamond’s work changes as the lighting effects around the table change. When Tube Table is lit by ambient lighting the effect is the cut out of the London tube appears to glow brighter than the white acrylic material. However when Tube Table is directly lit from above with little or no ambient lighting the cut out appears to be black and a bright shadow and light pattern is thrown on the floor below the table.

These effects are due to the transparent nature of the glass. The glow effect is simply the light reflecting off the background, in the case shown the white background is brighter than the white acrylic sheet thus the cut it appears to glow due to the contrast between these two materials. In the photo with direct lighting the cut appears black however, this is the background in shadow, it appears black because you are seeing the shadows.

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89114 MDes Lighting Studio 1_Week9

The use of lighting in Gioacchino Rossini’s La Cenerentola

Angelina                  Joyce DiDonato

Don Ramiro                Juan Diego Florez

Dandini                    David Menendez

Don Magnifico             Bruno de Simone

Clorinda                   Cristina Obergon

Tisbe                      Itxaro Mentxaka

Alidoro                    Simon Orfila

Orchestra & Chorus of the Gran Teatre del Liceu

Conductor                 Patrick Summers

Stage director            Joan Font (Comediants)

Chorus Master            Jose Luis Basso

Sets & Costumes         Joan Guillen

Lighting Design           Albert Faura

Choreography             Xevi Dorca

Exec. Producer           Jesus Regueira

Video Director            Xavi Bove

In this production we see how all elements come together to create a visually stunning performance. This production makes use of light and colour within all aspects; set, costume, props, and narrative.

The performance starts in the dark and decaying home of Don Magnifico the dim lighting showing his obvious poverty. The colourful costumes of the two sisters and the furniture show that Don Magnifico spends what little money he has on show putting up a false facade, part of his character relieved later in the show. Cinderella’s virtue is represented through the hearth’s golden light and her plain costume, in simple earthy tones.

Upon the arrival of “the prince”, Dandini in disguise, the two sisters dress in very bright vibrant colours with other colourful dresses out on display showing there frivolous superficial nature. In a stroke of brilliance Dandini arrives on a two headed horse symbolising his two faces.

Darkness falls over the set while Alidoro works his “magic” to get Cinderella to the ball. The darkness plays a dual role as it creates sense of mystery and prepares the set for the grandeur of the next scene, the golden palace of the Prince.

While at the palace Don Magnifico visits and is then made master of the cellar and gets drunk, this is portrayed on the set through the use of rose coloured lighting. This has a number of visual effects firstly red is the colour of wine and gives the audience a sense of place. Secondly and more importantly the rose coloured light gives a hazy glow to the set representing Don Magnifico’s intoxication and inflated sense of self importance, he see the world through rose coloured glasses.

Other locations within the place are represented through simple uses of coloured lighting of the set, the garden green and the ball room white. One of the most important aspects of this type of lighting is that the designers have not forgotten about the floor. The lighting of the floor along with the walls gives the set colouring greater depth and draws the audience deeper into the world created but the production

The depth that the audience is drawn in creates such a shock at the end of act 1 that a small part of the performance continues on stage after the curtain has dropped (two of the “rats” get stuck on the wrong side of the curtain) to lessen the impact.

Act two begins with the darkness of indecision a large mirror prop allows self refection for Don Ramiro before he heads off in his coach on a stormy night.

The use of a dark blue light signifies a stormy night but also darkens out the background enough to allow for a change in scale showing a coach crossing the stage and coming to grief.

Darkness on stage with individual lighting depicts each characters’ position as the falsehoods are revealed.

The final scene uses colour on the form of flags and costumes to express the joy of the occasion while a soft warm light radiates from the set to show the love between Cinderella and Don Ramiro.

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