LLURIA illuminates the “Comuneros: 500 years” exhibition

Lluria iluminacion exposiciones

LED linear lights have become an indispensable tool in exhibition lighting due to their small size, low energy consumption and their many customisation possibilities. In museum lighting, the specifications and installation methods must be taken care of down to the smallest detail to achieve the best result.

Lluria iluminacion exposiciones

This was precisely the challenge set by lighting designers Mariel Fuentes and Michela Mezzavilla when they studied how to solve the lighting of the “Comuneros: 500 years” temporary exhibition, launched on 22 April at the headquarters of the Cortes of Castile and León in Valladolid. “We needed an LED strip with an excellent colour rendering index, a variety of supports and very complete optics to solve the lighting of a set of pieces that are very different from each other,” explain the designers, “and for that reason we opted for the Lluria Nature range.”

Lluria iluminacion exposiciones

Coordinated by Patrimonio Inteligente, and designed by interior designer Beatriz Rubio, the exhibition is dedicated to the organisers of the Revolt of the Comuneros and to those who worked to keep the political, social and historical legacy of the defenders of the communities alive. It exhibits a total of 150 pieces, donated by prominent Spanish institutions and organisations such as the Congress of Deputies, the Prado and National Archaeological Museums, the National Library, Patrimonio Nacional, the Royal Chancery and the Army Museum, as well as private collectors, temples and other institutions of a different nature. The exhibition includes tapestries, paintings, weapons, coins, sculptures, miniatures, bas-reliefs, old documents, books and a wide variety of pieces of great historical and artistic value that are being exhibited together for the first time.

Lluria iluminacion exposiciones

The aim of the exhibition is to represent a key historical moment through different perspectives, to offer a contained, impartial vision, so that it is the viewer who draws their own conclusions.

Lluria iluminacion exposiciones

At the entrance, consistent with this approach, large backlit cylinders welcome the visitors, instantly immersing them in large-scale images of the time for them to observe at leisure, playing with their individual point of view. Specially designed for the exhibition, each of these cylinders is lit by four stretches of LED Nature lights.

Lluria iluminacion exposiciones

Inside the lobby, the pieces are organised along a large red columnar structure and placed in different display cabinets or on pedestals and supports, depending on the origin and nature of each item. In this sense, the use of LED Nature strips has been key to obtaining an excellent final result, due to its ability to optimally and realistically reproduce the reds and the rest of the colour ranges, in addition to the various materials displayed in the exhibition.

Lluria iluminacion exposiciones

The light discourse translates the non-partisan and “democratic” stance of the exhibition story into a simple yet effective light display, providing the same lighting level to all the collections and pairing a specific linear lighting solution with each type of piece. “We categorise different types of pieces and, from there, we work out seven types of lighting, combining different elements of Lluria’s systems: optics with a more closed or open angle and fixed or adjustable frames that are hidden or visible,” Mariel Fuentes points out.

Lluria iluminacion exposiciones

The tapestries and large paintings make use of the ST2D profile, due to its orientability and its more concentrated optics. The profile is hidden in a detail specially conceived by the lighting designers.

Lluria iluminacion exposiciones

Alcoves are lit with 45˚ profiles positioned in different ways depending on the dimensions, the materials and the type of pieces, with different integration details. Freestanding display cabinets also generally make use of built-in 45˚ profiles. Some of the sculptural pieces placed on pedestals are illuminated by integrating the ST2D profile in a custom-designed uplighting detail, for a more dramatic effect.

Lluria iluminacion exposiciones

A purpose designed system with an arm is used to light the most volumetric pieces mounted on the surface of the exhibitors. The texts are also lit with linear lighting, either from the front or through light boxes, depending on the relevance and placement of the text itself within the exhibition.

Lluria iluminacion exposiciones

All the LED strips are DALI dimmable in order to be able to adjust the lighting levels required for the most fragile pieces. The lighting level of each one of these has determined the reference lighting, which the rest of the exhibition has been adapted to.

Lluria iluminacion exposiciones

“In this project it was essential to work very closely with the interior architect from the beginning, to coordinate and define the details of all the linear luminaires in the display cases and cabinets, achieving optimal integration. It is a project carried out with great dedication and attention to detail, taking care of each solution and each item so that it shines to the fullest,” adds Michela Mezzavilla.

Lluria iluminacion exposiciones

It is worth mentioning that the deadlines for executing a project are usually very tight in temporary exhibitions, so, according to the designers, another reason for choosing Lluria was because of the quality of the service offered and the ease of receiving all the material cut to size and organised, ready for installation.

Temporary exhibition “Comuneros: 500 years”
Promoter: Fundación Castilla y León
Project: ElArte Ideas and Patrimoio Inteligente
Museographic design: Studio Azul
Production coordination: Beatriz Rubio from Studio Azul
Lighting Design: Mariel Fuentes from LDLUZ and Michela Mezzavilla from reMM
Photography: Francisco J. De las Heras

Interview with Jordi Moya, founder of ILM BCN

Jordi Moya understands lighting as a key constructive material in the creation of ambiences and atmospheric interiors. With a long and varied career, extensive technical knowledge and an inexhaustible enthusiasm for discovering new visual languages, Moya is a remarkable figure who has developed countless architectural projects and who specialises in the lighting of works of art, exhibitions and museum spaces.

Despite having a degree in industrial technical engineering, you have focussed your professional career on lighting design. Is the development of lighting projects more science than art or more art than science for you?

For me, it’s a balanced coexistence between two worlds. Depending on the project, the lighting is more inclined towards one or the other, but both are always present in some form. I frequently defend the need for specific studies for lighting design that include technical training, to learn about the tools we work with, and artistic training, to design the effects used to create different atmospheres. Lighting designers work with architects and interior designers and it’s important we understand their language, their vision, their intentions, etc. Because of this, we need specialised training in colours, properties of light, chromatic dispersion, the golden ratio, spatial distribution, visual perception and so many other aspects. To answer your question more directly, I think it’s important to know both worlds in order to develop a lighting project from the design and execution stages to the final touches.

Jordi Moya, fundador de ILM BCN
Óptica Afflelou

You have also studied set design, theatrical machinery and set space and have completed higher studies in photography. Are these disciplines important for developing creative lighting?

Culture is made up of different pieces of knowledge from very different fields and all of these help us to get to know the world and develop a greater sensitivity towards certain aspects. Speaking of the subject, the phrase ‘shadow cannot be a surprise’ comes to mind. I studied photography initially and worked for a few years as a photographer in the analogue era, before entering the world of lighting, which I entered by doing music concerts. Photography helped me figure out how to focus my attention on special lighting moments, to hone in on the most attractive visual elements of the 360 degree reality we live in. Set studies taught me about an expressive language in which light shapes and defines the space. It helped me incorporate the spectator’s point of view into my designs. All of this knowledge allows one to understand light effects and personally I would say these disciplines helped ‘train my eye’.

Jordi Moya lighting design Lluria
Rectoría Callús

You design lighting projects of all kinds, but since 2000 you have worked as an illuminator for temporary exhibitions for various centres and museums. How did this specialisation come about?

My specialisation started a bit by chance. My godmother, Laura Baringo, designed temporary exhibitions in Barcelona and she had problems with lighting them, so she asked me if I could give her a hand. At that time I was doing stage lighting for concerts, where my work was really ephemeral; after long hours of concept development, assembly and programming, everything ended after one hour of show. So what really attracted me was the time dimension shift — that the lighting creations had a somewhat longer existence. Laura’s highly demanding nature and my passion for discovering the visual possibilities of museum luminaires pushed us to complete very interesting projects that were admired wherever we went. Until then, exhibition lighting was in inexperienced hands; electricians and assemblers would just put a spotlight up wherever they were told to. No one contributed any technical input or lighting experience. After lighting a number of exhibitions, cultural centres began to appreciate the difference in quality and asked us to collaborate on their projects. This new situation, together with my desire to have my own project, led me to specialise in museum lighting.

Jordi Moya lighting design Lluria
Edifici Fontana D'Or

What are the basic aspects involved in lighting temporary exhibitions?

In short, the basic aspects would be creating the environment desired by the designer and that the exhibited works look good. These two objectives must be achieved in a pleasing manner; without glare and without sudden changes in the environment. In heritage exhibitions, the requirements of the curators vary depending on the material used in the work and their criteria. To give you an example, I illuminated an exhibition of drawings in which the owner wanted to do it with 200 lux, when the paper should not be exposed to more than 50 lux. Another time, I was working on an Alphonse Mucha Museum exhibition at the Casa Lis in Salamanca; the curators demanded 35 lux in the exhibition lighting and also controlled the night light and the surveillance light below that level.

Jordi Moya, fundador de ILM BCN
Exposición Vampiros

Have the technical requirements and visitors’ preferences in terms of lighting changed a lot since 2000?

The technical aspects have changed radically since LED technology was invented. In 2000 museum lighting basically just used tungsten light sources; various halogen bulbs. These had a lot of drawbacks: the colour temperature would often change, they emitted UV and IR radiation that we had to filter out, they didn’t last long and they weren’t very efficient. Nowadays, thanks to LED technology, lighting is much more efficient; it doesn’t emit UV or IR radiation, the colour temperature doesn’t change when you adjust it and it’s very long-lasting. However, I don’t think visitors’ preferences have changed at all. LED lighting has given us much more precise tools that allow us to control the ambience better, creating more comfortable spaces. Visitors just want to be able to see the exhibits properly, read the information that goes with it and have a pleasant experience. I think this will always be the case.

Entrevista a Jordi Moya, fundador de ILM BCN
Exposición Vampiros

As an illuminator, do you think LED strips are a good resource to be creative in the projects you carry out?

It is an indisputably useful tool. Since the creation of LED strips, there has been a greater integration of lighting in architecture. Being able to trace the lines or architectural elements such as a staircase, a roof or a fence, takes the project to another dimension. Highlighting the architecture without using poles and projectors allows you to enjoy it during the day in all its splendour, with its visual games of lines and volumes, and simply turn it on at night, showcasing its scenographic power.

Exposición Pixar. Construyendo personajes

What are your favourite applications?

Countless! There really are many, but one of the ones I like the most is not having the light source concentrated in one point, especially for lighting display cabinets or very large exhibition spaces that have built-in linear lighting. By having the light in a line, I am often able to get rid of shadows. This is a great advantage since it eliminates the harsh shadows that a spot projector generates. In addition, the fact that the strips are beginning to include a large number of accessories such as diffusors, magnifiers, wireless controls and flexible versions offers us a wide range of tools to adapt to new challenges. Digital LED is another excellent application that has given us a whole new aesthetic, a new visual language: dynamic light. With digital LED you can give ‘life’ to interiors and even transform them into LED screens – new worlds that only LED strips can provide us.

Interview with Joan Alsina, founder of AlsinaSech Lighting Projects

Joan Alsina AlsinaSech Lighting Projects

Joan Alsina believes that everyone should be able to enjoy a good lighting project in their homes. That’s why he always adapts to his clients’ budgets, striving to make their dreams come true and finding the best solution to ensure there is one corner of their house where they can enjoy the beauty and poetry of light.

You studied interior design, but in the end, you set up a studio that specialises in lighting projects. When and why did you take the plunge and move into the world of light?

While I was studying interior design, I noticed a guy in my class who worked at Saladié Lighting Projects; whenever we presented assignments, he always brought an additional sheet of paper with the lighting proposal. None of the rest of us ever did, nor did the teachers ask for it. His ideas really caught my eye and I ended up discovering that lighting was the part of interior design that I liked the most.  Eventually we became friends and he introduced me to his boss, who gave me the chance to do my internship at Saladié. That was where I realised just how much lighting excited me, and I was so dedicated and committed that they ended up hiring me.

What should the lighting of the spaces you design be like?

I always look for the best way to trigger emotions through light, to create atmospheres in which people feel comfortable and at ease. I make sure that each component fits perfectly in the project and that the lighting effect is just right. I love working with light and shadow. In fact, I think I’m a shadow lover.

What are the words that would define AlsinaSech Lighting Projects’ work?

I like our projects to breathe the magic and poetry of light while remaining economical and affordable. We love providing a warm and friendly service, and always attending any need and facilitating the most appropriate solution.

Joan Alsina AlsinaSech Lighting Projects

What advice do you give to clients who engage your services to light their homes?

I always stress the importance of installing a warm colour temperature in their homes. Light has a direct influence on our emotions and our moods, and I’m quite sure that a couple living in a house with 4,000 or 5,000k light are going to argue more than a couple who live with 2,700k. Sometimes it is a real struggle to convince them, they don’t understand warm light in the kitchen, for example, but as soon as they see the results they’re delighted. Another important issue in home lighting is to use good materials to achieve visual comfort and to avoid any flickering light sources that impact well-being and health so much. And a third tip is to recommend dimmable lighting, so that they can adjust lighting levels to their different everyday activities. I also show them how to differentiate and use the different layers of direct and indirect lighting, which are more ambient, and accent lighting.

When working on a lighting project, is it important to listen to the architecture?

Absolutely. Unfortunately, I’m almost always called when the house’s architecture has already been defined, when ideally architecture and lighting should grow and develop at the same time. Both should start from scratch and grow together so that they complement each other.

Are LED strips a good way of integrating lighting into architecture?  

Yes, without a doubt, personally I’m using them more and more.

Joan Alsina AlsinaSech Lighting Projects

What are your favourite applications?

Above all, verticals cut in walls, to provide indirect ceiling-to-floor lighting. One effect that I love and that the architect Ramón Esteve uses very often is to build LED strips into porcelain flooring next to walls, which produces a very dramatic gradient on the baseboard. It’s a highly spectacular effect that highlights the architecture, providing a soft and pleasant light effect. I particularly like these two applications, although the one used most commonly is to include the LED strip in a cavity to create a curtain of light on the wall.

Joan Alsina AlsinaSech Lighting Projects

Is it expensive to engage a lighting consultant’s services?

No, not in my case, as I always try to ensure that my expertise does not cost the client anything extra. I work for architects, interior designers and installers and my philosophy is to build a relationship of mutual loyalty, so that what customers pay for the lighting products cover my professionalism and time. I always adapt to the client’s budget, even if I have to be more creative and invent and reinvent the product to strike a balance between cost and aesthetics.

Joan Alsina AlsinaSech Lighting Projects

Interview with Mary Pardo and Susana Barea, founders of Krea Lighting Studio

Krea Lighting Mary Pardo Susana Barea

If something characterizes the founders of Krea Lighting Studio it is their accessibility and personal touch. They pride themselves on listening to customers and providing the best strategy, as well as the talent, creative approach and attention to detail that deliver the best solution to every need. They are convinced that their commitment to and enthusiasm for well done work will take them far.

In 2018 you founded your studio, Krea Lighting. What led you to do it together? Were you close friends?

Susana: No, the truth is that we had never worked together, we only met because we had some common suppliers. We were at a decisive point at a time when Mary was deciding between going into teaching or continuing with projects and I had to decide my professional future from among several proposals.

Mary: It was a matter of good vibrations, Susana inspired trust from the very beginning. We only needed to meet a couple of times to decide to combine our knowledge and experience and establish Krea Lighting.

Krea Lighting Mary Pardo Susana Barea
Casa Kub's

Is it difficult to get into the profession as an independent studio? What are the biggest challenges you faced?

Mary:  The biggest challenge is economic. The current pandemic situation is extraordinarily complex. The rest needs dedication and enthusiasm.

Susana: Developing projects is no problem for us, beyond the challenges that each customer poses.  In contrast, all the management and paperwork issues involved in founding a company are time-consuming and are exhausting. In our case, because our premises are on the ground floor and visible from the street, the architectural and regulatory requirements are much greater.

Krea Lighting Mary Pardo Susana Barea
Agrupació Jugadors FCB. ©alvarovaldecantos

The question we must ask is, where does your interest in light come from?

Mary:  My interest in light came by pure chance. When I was quite young, I went to work in a lighting company as an office worker. There I discovered the enormous possibilities light offers to the point that the manager encouraged me to devote myself to it and to study interior design, so I’d have the basics. I fell in love with light from the outset.

Susana: I studied interior design, but when I joined a food company in 2001 that was developing projects for markets, pastry shops, butchers, shops or restaurants, I realized the enormous importance of light in general, and especially how it affected people’s perception of food. But as an interior designer you are not a lighting expert, so I sought out the studies I needed and took the Master in Lighting Design from UPC in Barcelona, of which I am currently coordinator.

Krea Lighting Mary Pardo Susana Barea
Agrupació Jugadors FCB. ©alvarovaldecantos

What kind of projects are you working on?

Susana: The current situation, which allows us to work online, gives us the opportunity to develop all kinds of projects at local, national and international levels. Having the studio in Vic does not limit us in any way. But it is true that the pandemic has boosted housing projects.

Mary:   Currently we are also working on a couple of restaurants, shops, a showroom in Barcelona and on teaching.

Krea Lighting Mary Pardo Susana Barea
Obra exhibeo VM

Have you developed a language that characterizes you as a studio?

Mary:   More than a language or style, I would say that what characterizes our work is that we always listen to our customers to determine their needs. Once they are established, we can develop the most suitable solutions.

Susana: Even if customers don’t know anything about lighting, if they know how they like to live or how they like to work, they understand their needs better than anyone else. Therefore, this initial and close contact is essential for achieving the best results. And I’m not just talking about small projects; we’re always present from the beginning, ready to establish a one-on-one relationship. If something defines us as a studio, it is our accessibility.

Krea Lighting Mary Pardo Susana Barea

When you establish that close contact with the owners, do you think they are generally sophisticated enough to understand the language of light as the generator of architectural narrative?

Susana: Generally, our customers come to us, which is important because it means they have a specific interest in lighting. Many of them say, ‘I don’t know what or how, but I want it to be well lit’. In our case, after having completed several projects, it is often word of mouth that works best. People come and say, ‘Wow, that has turned out well! Who did it?’ and then they come to us. From when they first show their interest, we try to educate them about how important lighting is as a component in the development of a narrative.

Mary:  Going back to the close personal contact we mentioned before, we not only design the visual project, but we are fully involved: we arrange visits, perform light tests, advise, explain why we have chosen one product or another, advise on the pros and cons… We are totally involved with the architects and installers on site, and we always try to be part of the overall team. We can develop a great project, but if we do not cooperate with the architect, the interior designer and the installer afterwards, it won’t turn out as we want.

Krea Lighting Mary Pardo Susana Barea
Mercat de Olesa. Obra Exhibeo VM. @Pere Grimau

When you talk to architects, interior designers and installers do you need to adapt your language to theirs, so that the projects can be successfully implemented?

Susana: The difference between them and us is that when we work with architects and interior designers, they perceive us as a plus in their work. Installers, however, often see us as competitors that invade their area and will make their lives more difficult. In fact, many of them come straight out with it. Our relationship with installers is more complex, but the results speak for themselves. Once they see the finished project and the relationship has gone smoothly, they end up acknowledging our contribution.

Mary:  It depends on the project. In our case, we know installers who are regular customers and who call us directly. We have recently worked on a series of homes and it was the installer who invited us to take part, because we add value to their work. Although there are all kinds attitudes, fortunately some people are beginning to appreciate us.

Krea Lighting Mary Pardo Susana Barea
Mercat de Olesa. Obra Exhibeo VM. @Pere Grimau

Do you like to use lines of light in your projects?

Susana: A lot. They are excellent for emphasising architecture and hiding the light source.

Mary:   They are practical; they give great results and are easy to incorporate into projects. At the moment we are involved in modular houses for which we have made a prototype that incorporates several light lines. And we always work with Lluria, because of their proximity, efficient service and problem-solving capability. It’s a company with a great team behind it.

Susana: Yes, and another point in their favour is that their catalogue enables us to choose from a wide variety of profile and linear led models, whether for a project that requires the highest quality or for lower budget projects. And what we appreciate most is their ability to adapt when making custom lengths. We find it very practical and the installers are more than happy with the results.

Krea Lighting
Vivienda Vilaseca Interiorisme. @ZINCBCN

Interview with Cristina and Paula Martínez Abad, founders of Maraba Studio

Young and enterprising, Cristina and Paula form part of a new generation of lighting designers who’ve been able to forge a path in their profession with optimism and enthusiasm in spite of all the difficulties. In their short life as a studio they’ve already become a benchmark for Lanzarote, an island that’s provided them with their inspiration and creative discourse, based on nature and its effects in terms of light and shadow.

It’s interesting to note that, as sisters, you both studied architecture and specialised in architectural lighting design. Moreover, you work at the same independent lighting studio. Are you really inseparable?

Paula: It’s true, it’s curious. Both Cristina and I have always been attracted to the world of architecture; our family is connected with design and construction and that’s undoubtedly influenced us. But although we’ve grown in parallel, we actually started out in different cities. Cristina graduated in Seville whereas I graduated in Madrid. When, in 2015 and after working in Germany, I founded ABAD Lighting Design Studio in Lanzarote, Cristina was furthering her career in architecture in Madrid. But in the end it was light that brought us together. We wanted to create something together and, at the beginning of 2020, we founded Maraba Studio.

Paula y Cristina Martinez Abad Maraba Studio
Nave Grupo Martínez

When you decided to study architecture, were you already interested in light or did you discover it later?

Paula: I’ve always been fascinated by natural lighting, its impact on materials. Living on an island like Lanzarote with its landscape and environment, where the sun is present for more than 12 hours a day, creates a different vision. You learn to sift the light, to protect yourself from it and create shade using natural elements. Shadow is as powerful as light; you just have to know how to work with it. But my interest in the profession of lighting designer came later. During my degree I discovered how important it was to design lighting in order to enhance architecture, its form, structure and texture. So I began to investigate and that’s how it all started.

Cristina: I agree with Paula. Being born in a place like Lanzarote has a lot to do with who we are and what we’re doing today. Living on this island, you develop a particular sensibility. I’ve always seen light as a fundamental part of my architectural projects but it was during my work that I realised the profession of lighting designer actually existed. That’s when I took the decision to redirect my career and specialise in lighting design.

What were your career paths before founding Maraba Studio?

Paula: After finishing the Masterdía Master in Architectural Lighting in 2014, I had the chance to meet Andreas Schulz, CEO of Licht Kunst Licht, who gave me the opportunity to work with him in his studio in Berlin. It was a wonderful experience! For almost a year I was immersed in a world of light that I’d never imagined, working on very special projects. I learned to design by thinking about every nuance and every detail to create spaces that are comfortable for our visual perception. It was after this that I was offered the first project on my native island: Jameos del Agua, a project by the architect César Manrique. It was a real challenge for me.

: In my case, before entering the world of lighting completely, I specialised in retail design and worked for several architecture studios in Madrid. It wasn’t until 2019 that I trained as a lighting designer at the IED in Madrid.

Fundación César Manrique

Are you finding it difficult to make your way in a profession that’s not yet recognised as it should be?

Paula: When I had to make the decision to return to Lanzarote, the profession of lighting design was unknown. But contrary to what people might think, I saw it as a great opportunity. The island was like a blank canvas on which I could start designing and developing a lighting culture.

Cristina: Yes, on Lanzarote we’ve been able to carry out projects in all kinds of fields, related to culture, the landscape, business, retail and education. Little by little we’ve raised awareness of the importance of light that’s now bearing fruit.

Monumento al campesino

At the Arrecife Gran Hotel you work with Lluria’s LED linear lighting. Do you like using it? Do you think it allows you to develop new ideas?

Cristina: Lluria’s linear lighting is used to create indirect lighting on walls and to enhance textures and materials, as well as to guide routes for guests and define the surroundings in space.

Paula: At the Arrecife Gran Hotel, whose inspiration is nature and its different forms, we’ve implemented an LED strip whose modules are perpendicular to the base so it adapts perfectly to the curves, projecting the light vertically and homogeneously. In outdoor lighting, flexible waterproof products enable us to design without limits.

Maraba Studio
Guarderia Arenas

Dynamic light is another of the great virtues of linear lighting. What possibilities does it offer you in creative terms?

Cristina: Such tools add personality and character to a design and open up a range of possibilities during the creative process.

Paula: The truth is that, right now, we’re using dynamic lighting in two different projects. In the first, a shopping and sports centre, we’re designing a dynamic façade in blue tones that changes throughout the day, simulating the movement of the sea. In the second, a glass roof for the Pool Bar at Arrecife Gran Hotel, we’re creating a magical space in constant flux that takes you to another galaxy. Using the metal structure of the roof as a support, we’ve covered the entire surface with linear strips. They’re installed in pairs, combining White Tunable with RGB White, which produces a colourful environment where our aim is to create a limitless, changing space. It’s a mutating environment in which the immersive experience begins at sunset with a show of lights that multiply. We’ve played with the spatial perception of the environment as it’s reflected in the glass dome and on the surface of the water.

Cristina y Paula Martínez Abad, Maraba Studio
Clinica Nores

Interview with lighting designer Mariel Fuentes of LDLuz

Mariel Fuentes LDLuz @alvarovaldecantos

Convinced that light is a silent partner with the ability to lead us into different moods, Mariel Fuentes has plunged into a personal exploration that has led her to unveil this material’s capacity to communicate and generate narratives of great visual impact. Her goal is to get perception and technology to work together, to benefit the end user.

You define yourself as an architect by trade and a lighting designer by choice. What is it about lighting that led you to choose this path for your professional career?

What I loved about light from the very first moment, even without knowing how important it would end up being for me professionally, was seeing that it was a language, a form of communication, a wonderful tool to generate and provide new perspectives for architecture, in both interiors and exteriors. Light can transform an architectural space or a landscape and it accompanies us in the story of the project, even when we’re talking about light art or art installations. And one thing that continues to fill me with wonder today is seeing that everyone, whether they’re professionals or not, has a special and very acute sensitivity to light.

Mariel Fuentes LDLuz
Holmes Place Yoga Studio. @Milena Rosés

How did a Chilean end up laying down roots in a faraway country such as Spain? Was it for personal or professional reasons?

Actually, it was a combination of the two. A friend from Chile recommended a master’s degree programme in lighting applied to interior design, which was offered at the University of Salamanca. It all began as an experience and I didn’t know where it was going to take me, but once I was in Spain and had finished my studies, I decided to move to Barcelona to seek opportunity in the field. That was how I started working at artec3 Studio, back in 2006.

Holmes Place Yoga Studio. @Milena Rosés

Ten years later, in 2016, you decided to set up your own studio, LDLuz. What sorts of projects do you take on?

Life is a constant learning process, and our professional lives are, too. In all the years that I’ve been working with architectural lighting, I have had great opportunities that have enabled me to continue to learn and that have given me immense experience in different types of projects. At the moment, at LDLuz we’re developing projects of all types: homes; restaurants and hotels—a field that especially interests me, given the very fascinating narrative that you can develop—; offices and multi-purpose spaces; and even façades. And another area that also really interests me, where I have worked with designer Michela Mezzavilla, are light installation projects.

Mariel Fuentes LDLuz
Holmes Place Yoga Studio. @Milena Rosés

In these times of COVID-19 and because of the period of confinement, many people have realised how important it is to have a home where they feel comfortable. Have you noticed a greater demand for home design and redesign projects?

Generally speaking, yes. Because I work with lighting design, lots of friends and people who are close to me have asked me for advice on how to improve their homes, their workspaces or their broadcasting rooms. And I’ve also received questions about the lighting for yoga rooms. People have realised that when you spend a lot of time in a place with the wrong lighting, it’s not only uncomfortable, but in the long run it leads to health problems.

Mariel Fuentes LDLuz
Mortitx House. @Toni Matos

As an architect and lighting designer, how important do you believe integrated lighting is in architecture? Do you recommend it in residential projects?

For me, there are two basic layers in the development of a lighting project: the one that allows you to read the space and the one that gives you the environmental and functional support to do different tasks. They work together, hand in hand. Yet in the first layer, the one that allows you to read the spaces and even underscore certain materials or generate a lighting composition, integrated lines of light become extremely important, both if the line is visible—if it’s built into a wall, floor, ceiling or piece of furniture—, and if it’s integrated invisibly, as would be the case of the recesses of indirect lighting. I have worked with some interior designers who at first didn’t acknowledge the importance of this and tended to avoid this lighting effect. But when I showed them how effective it was in generating a certain degree of dramatics or theatrics in the composition of the scenery, and even when creating a certain intimacy in lighting, they were the ones who asked me to incorporate indirect lighting lines into their projects, to highlight spaces and materials.

Mariel Fuentes LDLuz
Mortitx House. @Toni Matos

Do you use products by Lluria?

I have on many occasions. Right now, we’re finishing a project where we’ve used a specific technical solution by Lluria that has worked amazingly well. This residential project specified a reflecting pool with a special ozone treatment to prevent fungus and odours. We had found salt, chlorine, and other treatments of different kinds, but we’d never seen ozone. After checking with the technical departments of different manufacturers, we found the option of Wolf illumination by Lluria, which was the only one that gave me a 100% guarantee the submersion in this compound.


Mariel Fuentes LDLuz iluminacion viviendas
Vivienda San Carles

You combine your work at LDLuz with teaching. What motivates you to devote so much time to teaching? Is it vocation, economic reward…?

I’d say it’s more of a vocational thing that responds to the notion that good things should be shared. I love helping to initiate the students in the world of lighting and sharing with them the knowledge and experiences that I’ve acquired professionally. And I must say that you also learn when you teach. My students are as devoted to me as I am to them, and they enable me to keep an open mind to take in new input.

Mariel Fuentes LDLuz
(IN)MATERIAL. Milena Rosés

You’re also very active in professional associations. You form part of the APDI and the IALD. Why do you do this work?

I believe in the value of our profession, and I believe that together we can make our professional field better, bring it higher social acclaim. Dedicating yourself to something as magical as lighting design goes beyond borders. So, when we work together, we can really contribute a great deal to this discipline. Also, because I’m a very social person, I really enjoy the interaction and exchange of experiences that takes place when you form part of a professional association. I am very grateful to be able to share and expand my passion for light through these two associations.

Mariel Fuentes LDLuz
Crossfit La Huella, Nike. @Milena Rosés

Interview with lighting designer Bárbara Rodríguez Pando of LDC

Barbara Rodriguez Pando LDC

A lover of light as a catalyser of human perception and fascinated by the endless possibilities that technology brings to the creation of spaces, Barbara Rodriguez Pando, along with the studio, Lighting Design Collective is looking to invent new settings that stimulate our senses. The projects developed thus far bear witness to her ability to imagine dynamic settings that move between the physical and digital worlds.

You’ve been a member of the Lighting Design Collective team for six years. What sorts of projects does LDC carry out and what is your specific job as Senior Lighting Designer?

We work on a wide range of projects of diverse scales, including hotels, town development plans, restaurants, offices, small art pieces for residential developments, media façades, landscaping projects, infrastructures like bridges and tunnels, museums and exhibitions, and shopping centres. My job is to carry the projects from concept development to implementation. I play a creative role in developing the vision of the project, and I am responsible for delivery and quality control, as well as client-related tasks. Yet the most important task of all is identifying the role of lighting and the added value that it can bring to each individual project.

Anantara Jabal Al Akhdar Resort

LDC’s slogan is “We design dynamic environments”. In your opinion, what can dynamic lighting bring to architecture and constructed environments?

Ever since architecture has existed, it has been bathed in the powerful and dynamic light of the sun. Natural light varies immensely in both its day-and-night cycle and its annual cycle. We all yearn for the incredible sight of a sunset when we haven’t seen one in a while. For example, the shimmers and reflections of light in contact with water have been used for centuries to enhance town squares and courtyards. In fact, static and constant light is the most antinatural thing for humans. Dynamism is a very effective quality to call our attention while we are perceiving a space. Today, we have tools that enable that dynamism to provide meaning to a place or transmit an idea through real-time data-driven parameters, and we can even interact with our environment and its variability.

Anantara Jabal Al Akhdar Resort
Anantara Jabal Al Akhdar Resort

Many people associate dynamic light with the creation of experiences. Do the new times call for a more communicative architecture that causes memorable experiences in people?

I’d say that the new times are bringing us new technologies that enable us to bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds, creating a phigital environment. When we conjure up a memory of a place, we get the feeling of having had an experience there. We can peel our eyes away from the small screens of our mobile phones and once again feel our environment and connect with it directly. A moment of beauty or fascination is a powerful marketing tool, and it can also serve as a channel to convey an idea and connect people with one another and with a place.


Anonymous, Lux Helsinki.
Anonymous, Lux Helsinki

Lighting events and festivals are becoming increasingly trendy. Is Light Art another of your specialities?

LDC participated in Lux Helsinki and the Durham festival with the piece Anonymous, where the visitors had a cabin equipped with an open microphone that allowed them to express themselves freely and cause changes in their setting through their silhouette, which was warped by their voice and other layers of lighting. LDC has also created different digital art pieces that are now permanent installations, projects that are totally unrelated to any festival. It is in those projects that lighting becomes a layer absorbed in the architecture of a place, generating its identity.

Amandolier media façade
Amandolier media façade

Developing digital dynamic light projects requires a vast knowledge and understanding of technology in terms of software, programming, digital arts and the like. How does LDC develop its projects? Do you have a multidisciplinary team or do you outsource those services?

Because each project is unique, the teams that work on them are also unique. In the early brainstorming phases, we have ReVR depict complex lighting scenes through image, virtual reality, animations and applications. This helps to ensure that all the agents involved in the project have in mind a shared goal to work towards. ReVR works independently, meaning that they work with LDC and with other design offices. To make dynamic environments a reality, we have Skandal Tech. They act as an integrator for the client, so they provide the control system, which includes software, hardware and services like implementation, devices such as sensors, network systems and specialised lighting. Poet software enables us to design the contents based on parameters that we can link to real-time data or system inputs.

Radisson blu Goteburgo
Radisson blu Goteburgo

Can you name one project that you’ve worked on that has been especially rewarding or challenging for you?

The Gothenburg Radisson Blu project required the refurbishment of a building from the 1980s, with a large covered atrium that many of the rooms looked out over. The atrium was the heart of the hotel. The natural lighting at those latitudes is insufficient on winter afternoons. For this reason, we designed a suspended lighting structure corresponding in size to the large scale of the space, serving as a sort of ambient communicator. The structure generates brightness through soft movements of light patterns, forming an abstract sky that changes thanks to real-time weather data. If the space is used for an event, the lighting is personalised with the desired colours. To get an intervention that becomes part of the setting rather than just serving as an ornamental figure, we dared to dream big in terms of scale and worked to maintain a very simple shape in the design of the object.

Radisson blu Goteburgo
Radisson blu Goteburgo

One project that you did with Lluria was the exhibition Edvard Munch: Landscapes of the Soul, which was developed along with the Snøhetta architecture team. What can you tell us about that?

The design of the Snøhetta exhibition arranged the vast space of Ithra’s Great Hall into wooden pavilions with very slanted roofs reminiscent of Norwegian cabins. Inside, a backlit tension membrane ran up to a lit oculus. Munch’s paintings could be admired in a space with a very human scale and a diffused and even light, completely free of glare. This was the ideal backdrop for Munch’s introspective and emotionally unstable paintings. In Lluria we found a great ally for the supply of the high CRI LED strips mounted on profiles with countless different sizes, enabling us to adapt to the geometry of the cabins. A meticulous zone-by-zone control system allowed us to adjust the light to the conservation requirements of the different works.

Edvard Munch: Landscapes of the Soul
Edvard Munch: Landscapes of the Soul

Finally, as a lighting designer, what do you think are the major challenges for your profession today?

I think we must continue to promote a more prominent light culture in society and keep pushing for the professionalisation of the lighting designer as a figure.

Edvard Munch: Landscapes of the Soul
Edvard Munch: Landscapes of the Soul