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Lighting and architecture are inseparable. I took the opportunity to talk to our Lighting designer Alim Granados this week about the symbiotic relationship of the two, a little about her inspirations, what drew here to Architecture, and the interesting challenges of a lighting designer. Here are her thoughts.
Why did you study architecture?
I was attracted to the career of architecture because it seemed to me as a discipline that has 2 opposite characteristics; the artistic side and the technical side, therefore navigating between opposites -depending on the challenge- seemed very attractive to me.
OK so you´re naturally creative that’s great, explain to us why that is so important as an architect?
It is important to keep the creative side fresh because all architectural challenges have an obvious problem, and a root problem. I think it's important to always dig deep to come up with unique solutions.
How can an architect influence society ?
It seems to me that the architect has a role of influencing and being influenced by society, since its task is to reflect the values or impulses of the historical moment in which it lives, through the spaces one inhabits or transits.
Yes in a lot of ways they are like a cultural conduits channeling trends and technology into their work, but doesn’t this also run the risk that the work may become dated with time?
Yes, totally, personally I don't believe in timeless works, because that means that society has not grown, overcome or transformed its values and drives. To speak of static works would be to speak of static societies. What is true is that you must have a critical eye to distinguish between fleeting fashions and long term trends.
What is the relationship between architecture and lighting?
Lighting is a fundamental part of architecture, since it involves one of its most prevalent senses: sight. Light and its counterpart; shadow, allow the user a clear reading of the intention of the space, its form and distribution. Light and shadow are the first contact between the user and the space.
Yes of course and often this contact is immediate to the sensors. Do you think this is recognized by the viewer, are they able to make the distinction between the space and the light or is it more integrated and subtle?
The first impression will always be faced as a whole. If the user maintains interest, they will be able to break apart the components, but the purpose of light is to dress the space, not to enhance itself. So the ideal is to keep it integrated and subtle.
What is a Lighting designer and their role?
The role of the lighting designer is to distribute light and shadow so that the space communicates or interacts with the user effectively.
Yes, I see when you say distribute you mean to balance the light throughout the space in a way that exemplifies and showcases the space. Do you think Lighting designers also play a role in educating the industry and public about lighting ?
Totally, with the new technologies available we can design in a different way than we did with fluorescence, for example, now that the user goes to the store and looks for a light bulb, he can choose different sizes, watts, shapes and color temperature. This implies that he questions why there are so many different options and which one is the right one. If he remembers the spaces he has visited, he will realize that not everything is solved with a cold light fluorescent light bulb, in general the spaces have more atmosphere and the user will be able to translate it to the decisions he takes personally with respect to the lighting of his space.
What are the challenges for you as a lighting designer?
The challenges of lighting design are to keep up to date with new changes in technology, and to find products on the market that combine design, technology and harmony with the space.
Yes indeed, there’s constant development in the lighting industry, exciting times but also challenging to stay abreast of it all. Can you let us in on any of your techniques and processes on how we may also stay up to date?
To stay on track with technologies, it is important to keep in touch with those who are innovating. Keeping the conversation open with suppliers, designers, engineers, etc. is always a gateway to inspiration and knowledge.
Do you think as a society we are coming to understand the importance of lighting in architecture?
As users, society is taking a freer approach to LED technology. It is getting easier and easier to get RGB LED strips, mini-sized luminaires that fit in any space, high-power lamps, etc. So users are discovering lighting on their own, and coming to us with curiosity. We are re-discovering light and the interaction with different materials, so the short answer is yes, society understands the importance of light in architecture, and exciting times are coming for innovation.
It feels like we are experiencing somewhat of a renaissance in the area of professional lighting right now, very exiting indeed. A lot of this can be attributed to the advances in LED technology. Do you think this technology is a fad and will one day be replaced by another lighting technology?
I remember when compact fluorescents lighting first appeared on the market and although nowhere near as diverse as LED technology, it was exciting, however it reached a certain technological level and development stagnated. Will LED technology continue to evolve at the current pace it is moving right now and will it eventually be replaced by an even newer more exciting lighting technology?
Looking at the history of the evolution of lighting technologies, the logical answer is that a new technology will soon arrive that will revolutionize the way we illuminate spaces. We also have to consider that not only is technology constantly evolving, but now comes artificial intelligence as a design tool, where options are multiplying, time is accelerating and points of view are diversifying. So we have two aspects to which we have to pay close attention: LED technology and what follows it, and design tools based on artificial intelligence.
Where do you see the great innovations in lighting and how will these benefit society?
Major lighting innovation is coming out of LED technology; research into the impact of artificial light on the user, and intelligent control systems. We are becoming aware of the great advantages and disadvantages of extending our day by artificial light, and new technologies and control systems will help us to balance this situation, as well as control electricity consumption.
Yes this is a very important subject, how we use light and on what end of the spectrum. Kelvin or the temperature of light has very specific uses lower Kelvin or ¨warmer light¨ Around 2700K lets say for a more decorative ambience such as a bar, restaurant of residential space where the experience should be relaxed and comfortable. Mid Kelvin for more ¨natural light¨ in the 5000 to 5500 Kelvin range and cooler light such as 6500 Kelvin light for more practical purposes such as kitchens, hallways, office and public spaces. What about light wavelengths can you give us an quick breakdown of the importance of this technology and its relationship to lighting psychology?
Wavelengths of light refer to the colors our eyes perceive. Regarding color temperature, we have a range of lights that go from warm white to cool white, each with a specific utility depending on the activities to be performed in the space. Warm color temperatures give us the feeling of a relaxing and enjoyable space. While cool lights keep us alert and focused. That is why it is so important to know the architectural program and divide the spaces by activity.
Just a quick interview with more discourse to come in the future. As you can see not just a pretty face at Luminosa™ ! More to come...