Enlightened in Tokyo
Last week I attended the IALD Enlighten Asia Tokyo + Lighting Fair 2017 combination event in Japan, and it served as a great reminder that we have an ever-growing toolbox of lighting products, manufacturing and construction techniques… but it left me with a few questions to ponder: What is it about the human experience that we want to capture or relate to in our designs? Lighting can be so abstract yet visceral at the same time; how do we as Lighting Designers use it to shape the environment and connect with the users within?
A few of the Enlighten seminars provided some insight—Mark Major (Speirs + Major) presented the first hour called “The Qualities of Night (or why we need darkness as well as light)”, and he referenced Junichiro Tanizaki’s essays “In Praise of Shadows”, which celebrate intentional darkness for its ability to grant us mental “quietness” and by contrast allow us to be more aware of and appreciate illumination. In application, this means designing with darkness as much as we are designing with light (especially in exterior landscaped areas) so that we can create a distinct nighttime character as opposed to just replicating or extending the daytime experience.
Another profound anecdote about using light on a level beyond the architectural came at the conclusion of the “Latest Advances and Trends for Medical Care” seminar: the moderator designed the lighting for a children’s hospice, and one of the program requirements was that there would be a wall full of different nightlights so that each child could pick their favorite and keep it near the door of their room. When the child passes on, the hospital gifts the nightlight to the parents as a keepsake in memory of their child.
While these takeaways may not be directly translatable to fixture specifications and architectural details, I believe keeping the human experience at the heart of our philosophy provides the right direction toward the development and execution of our lighting design.
Photos weren’t allowed inside the Lighting Fair so here are some snaps from the weekend following the convention—the cherry blossoms weren’t in full bloom yet but I was lucky enough to catch an early viewing!