How to light your dream bedroom

Rardo Architects + AlsinaSech Lighting Projects

The bedroom is the first room we see when we wake up and the last one we see when we close our eyes; we start and finish each day between its four walls. This reason alone means we should take special care when designing its lighting. However, we often pay little attention to it, beyond applying run-of-the-mill lighting solutions such as placing fittings on both sides of the bed and having diffuse ambient lighting. There are many more resources we can use to help create more personalized and appropriate lighting that match our interior design and requirements.

Ideally, bedroom lighting should be bright and energizing in the morning and intimate and atmospheric at night. But there are nuances that depend on how we use the room throughout the day: Do we read in bed or somewhere in the room? Do we have a wardrobe or dressing area? Is there a TV in the bedroom? If it is a couple’s bedroom, are they both going to sleep and wake up at the same time? The design of layers of ambient, task and accent lighting, together with the use of lighting controls are the main tools enable us to adapt the lighting to the needs and lifestyle of each customer, and of course the design and personality of each space. In this context, linear leds provide interesting solutions and details for bedroom lighting, whatever style we choose, as we will see below.

Rardo Architects + AlsiaSech Lighting Projects

The lighting layers in the bedroom

Ambient or general light is the base layer of well-designed bedroom lighting. It should give soft, wide-range lighting that complements natural light. There are many ways to achieve this, whether with decorative ceiling or standing fittings or by using indirect light provided by led strips built into false ceilings, sconces, or perimeter curtains. An interesting solution for this type of lighting is to use leds with adjustable colour-temperature changes, such as Lluria’s Titan Double White, which can emit several shades of white between 2400K and 6000K and adapt the atmosphere to every moment of the day.

Good ambient lighting is the basic lighting that connects to the other lighting layers – the task layer and the accent layer – which will be used for other typical bedroom tasks such as reading, watching TV or dressing.

The reading light usually can usually be resolved using focal or diffused light fittings next to the bed or in the reading or study corner.

Rardo Architects + AlsinaSech Lighting Projects

General lighting may be sufficient for dressing, but customers are increasingly aware of the importance of a good task light in the dressing area and request specific, front and diffuse lights close to the mirror and built-in lights in the cabinets that sorting, looking at and locating clothes. Both needs can be solved using linear leds, which are increasingly refined and adapted to the various types of mirrors, cabinets and dressing rooms. The range of Lluria’s sizes, profiles and optics means we can configure specific fittings for each application.

Accent lighting often adds personality and emphasis to a corner or detail of the room, often through accent lighting or even decorative lighting. An interesting solution provided by linear leds can be found by integrating them into shelves to create lighting effects that highlight books or decorative objects.  In short, the more layers of lighting we have in the room, the more variety and flexibility we can achieve, as is the case in other rooms in the house. The bedroom, moreover, has a peculiarity. Everything revolves around a piece of furniture, the bed, of standardized dimensions and that allows conditions the distribution of the space. Now, we’ll look at how we can light this area.

Saladie Light Studio

The bed, the functional and visual focus of the bedroom

The double bed is usually the largest piece of furniture in the bedroom and one of the largest pieces of furniture in the house. Sometimes we want to highlight it theatrically with accent lighting, but the most common thing is that the bed is not lit up by direct lighting, but by light that surrounds or frames it. This is usually provided by the lights in the bedside table areas (wall lights, tables, hanging lights or a combination), which are found in almost all bedrooms. Although their position means their primary function is to provide reading light on both sides of the bed, they often also serve as elements that frame it and define its personality.

But to highlight the bed, once again linear leds come to our help.  Built into the bed head, or under the bed and even bedside tables, they give nuanced light that can add a special touch to different layers of lighting. For example, indirectly lit bed heads can provide general ambient light or complement the reading light; lighting under the bed or a bedside table is ideal as signal lighting while generating a framework of light that places the visual accent on the bed itself.

Another unique aspect of the “bed area” is that it also functions as a control centre from which lights, curtains and television can be controlled. It is achieved by simple switches or by more complete control systems.

Rardo Architects + AlsinaSech Lighting Projects

Improving sleep quality

Since sleeping is our main activity in the bedroom, we should ask ourselves whether the lighting is ideal for a good night’s sleep. However as much as we may love artificial light, we sleep best in a completely dark bedroom. If we wake up at night to use the bathroom, a small signal light, of extremely low colour level and temperature, can be useful for moving around safely. Led lines hidden from sight under the bedside table or bed, with a colour temperature of 2400K or lower and regulated to a minimum, are an excellent solution. But while we sleep, the total absence of light helps us get a deep and refreshing sleep. Equally important is the light we are exposed to before bedtime. Higher light levels and longer wavelengths have been shown to suppress melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate the sleeping and waking cycle. Therefore, using soft lights and warm/reddish tones before bedtime can help us rest better.

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
©alvarovaldecantos

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
Obra ESOROSA. @ZINCBCN

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

5 tips on how to light your kitchen, the multifunctional living space

Iluminacion cocinas lineales led

Kitchens are the heart of the home; they are not only used for preparing food, but they are often the space where we meet family and friends, and even where we work or study. Some kitchens are separate and others are fully open to the dining room. Some have abundant natural light and others have hardly any and need artificial light. But, in all cases the lifestyle and aesthetic preferences of the people who inhabit the kitchen are plain.

As it is a multifunctional space, it absolutely needs good lighting. Achieving that is not as easy as you might think, so we are going to give you 5 tips that will enable you to achieve optimal lighting for all your activities. It will also help if you read our article “The three types of linear lighting in the home”.

iluminacion cocinas lineales led

1. Achieve uniformity with ambient lighting

In kitchens, general ambient lighting is often the main source of light. The aim is to illuminate the area as uniformly as possible and provide sufficient light to see and carry out general tasks. Linear light fittings can do this in different ways.

. Linear recessed or surface lights. These provide general lighting and are usually distributed evenly on the ceiling.

. Linear suspended lights for direct or direct and indirect lighting, centred over the kitchen islands or the entire space.

. Linear lights on the kitchen fittings, projecting indirect light towards the ceiling. If the height of the space and the design of the kitchen allow it, this is a very elegant solution and out of direct view. High powered lights, up to 28.8 W/m and circular opal diffusers are required to avoid shadows on the ceiling.

A tip: it is better not to illuminate only from the ceiling, since shadows may fall on the work surface where the food is prepared. You will have to fit lights above the work surface.

iluminacion cocinas lineal led

2. Precision and convenience in food preparation by lighting work areas

Linear leds perfectly solve lighting those places in the kitchen where you actually work. With their different sizes and formats, they provide ideal solutions for any task, and can illuminate work surfaces most efficiently.

The secret to designing this type of lighting is correct placement and glare control. Linear LEDs can be installed in two ways:

. Suspended linear lighting. This is a modern, minimalist solution, which works for both islands and countertops. It is usually fitted directly above work surfaces. To minimize glare, it is best to install them at least 75 cm from the surface to be lit. Alternatively, you can use anti-glare accessories or regulate the power of the fitting.

. Linear lighting for countertops. This can be integrated into top cabinets, extractor hoods or inside cupboards and on the sides of pantry doors.

. Linear lighting integrated into furniture. It is recommended to place it inside drawers and inside cupboards or pantries.

One more tip: don’t forget that some countertops are made of very shiny materials, such as marble or steel. In these cases, linear LEDs must always have a diffuser and their location and fitting into furniture must be carefully studied.

3. More personality with accentuated lighting

Like salt in a stew, the appropriate proportion of accentuated lighting will depend on each person’s personality, as well as the interior design. This type of lighting enables you to highlight details of the space, the decoration, the utensils and the foods on display. It creates depth and visual focus.

There are functional kitchens in which task lighting alone already creates a visually interesting accent. But in open kitchens, or in kitchens where part of the social activity of the house takes place, specific visual accent zones often appear. Here are some of the most important:

. Skirtings and lit perimeters. They draw attention to isles or kitchen furniture, slightly separating them from the floor or walls. It is important to correctly dimension them for proper light emission.

. Integrated lighting in shelves. Ambient light usually already provides general lighting to the shelves, but nowadays, thanks to miniature LED strips we can give a special prominence to the objects they display. In this case, the way you integrate the lights is everything. Placing a LED at the front, rear, top or bottom will provide a totally different effect. The chosen solution will depend on the type of objects to be illuminated and the design of the furniture.

Another tip: if we want to highlight glasses, bottles or other translucent materials, it is advisable to experiment with backlighting. Placing the lights at the back will make integrating them into the fixtures easier and will provide an unexpected lighting touch.

iluminacion cocinas lineales led

4. Getting the right colour temperature

Several factors influence the choice of colour temperature, but the amount of natural light present, the type of lighting and space, the feeling to be conveyed, the style of the interior design and the personal preferences of the users are all important factors.

There are three main colour temperature ranges: warm white (2700 K to 3000 K), neutral, cool white (3500 K to 4100 K), and very cool, daylight white (5000 K to 6500 K). The higher the colour temperature of the LED, the more bluish the light it emits, and the lower the temperature, the warmer the light.

For ambient and task lighting in kitchens, LEDs with a colour temperature of 3500K to 4100K are often chosen to ensure that floors and work surfaces are lit by a neutral white light. But if we want to simulate natural light, sometimes much cooler light tones, around 5000-6500K, are used. On the contrary, to provide a feeling of intimacy, temperatures of 2700 K to 3000 K would be used.

For accentuated lighting, temperatures of 2700 K to 3000 K are often chosen to highlight objects and surfaces in warmer light. But you can also use the same temperature as the ambient light and highlight the objects through the intensity of the light.

In short, there is no single rule, but each case must be individually assessed. If you are undecided, you can always resort to the lights with variable colour temperature from Lluria!

One last tip: the materials in the floors and walls and the finishes in the kitchen will affect the light reflected in the space. It is worthwhile looking for a light shade that enhances existing materials and colours. In open kitchens, you must also consider the finishes in the dining room and the general effect you want to provide.

iluminacion cocinas lineales led

5. Controlling the various lights

Given the many types of kitchens, having the possibility of regulating the lights gives you flexibility when lighting the space. This is especially important in multi-purpose kitchens, as lighting needs can vary greatly. When preparing food, you’ll need a bright and diffused light, while, for the ambience, the table and after dinner conversation, dimmer lights are recommended. This is easily achieved by installing dimmers, components that will help you personalize the lighting in each situation and improve your well-being.

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.

Cristina
: 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

Nature, in search of the ideal light to achieve harmony in spaces

For years, artificial lighting has fruitlessly attempted to imitate the glow and vitality of natural light. Yet today, LED technologies that more faithfully reproduce the spectrum of natural light, like the Nature range by Lluria, are a powerful tool for the design of spaces that are in harmony with the sunlight; places that are more respectful of the human circadian system and that focus on the people’s wellbeing.

What is circadian lighting?
Circadian lighting is a type of lighting that regulates artificial light in keeping with people’s needs for health and wellbeing, by respecting the cycles of human biology and minimising the negative effects of electric light on our biological clocks.

Our brains receive visual signals through the eyes, telling us when it is day and when it is night. In response to those signals, the brain then controls the amount of melatonin that is released, generating sleepiness when it is dark and a state of alertness when it is light. The circadian rhythm is basically the internal clock that is generated in each individual based on these signals. Light affects our visual and non-visual systems and scientists have discovered that certain blue wavelengths emitted by artificial light sources can alter people’s circadian rhythms.

(Español) Nature, Lluria Lighting Systems

The ideal light
To respond to the demands for human centric lighting, Lluria has created the Nature model LED strip, which was developed in accordance with the guidelines of the IES TM-30-18 method. This method more precisely measures and evaluates the properties of light sources, enabling them to be adjusted to the closest parameters of natural light. In LED Nature, the fidelity index (Rf), is Rf>95; and the colour rendering index (Rg), is _> 100. Characteristics that display an excellent quality of light and allow us to bring the benefits of solar light to indoor spaces.

The three tools of human centric lighting

There are three indispensable tools for the design of circadian lighting in indoor spaces: regulating the intensity; controlling the colour temperature; and adjusting visual stimuli.

Regulating the intensity of light is the most common solution, where the sources of light maintain a specific temperature colour (TC) while the intensity of the light is regulated in keeping with the time of day, starting with a lower intensity early in the morning, increasing as the day progresses and decreasing from sunset onwards.

Colour temperature control makes it possible to imitate the natural variance of the light during the day and night cycle, with cooler colour temperatures when the sun is highest in the sky and warmer temperatures when people go to sleep or wake up. This is usually regulated along with the intensity of the light.

Adjusting the visual stimuli is a more advanced adjustment. It is achieved by using LEDs with a spectral composition more similar to that of natural light, such as the LED Nature, enabling a closer imitation of daylight, while controlling both the fidelity of the light and the reduction of blue wavelengths, when combined with the two tools described above.

Nature luz perfecta

Applications and benefits
Certainly, one of the sectors with the greatest interest in these new technologies is the medical sector, where healthy lighting can afford major advances in the quality of life of everyone, patients and medical staff alike.

Yet there is also great potential in other more commercial sectors, as well as in everyday life:

Workplaces:
The regulation of light intensity in offices and colour temperature control in schools has been common practice for decades. In addition to advocating natural lighting, the WELL certification system, which promotes standards of health and wellbeing in indoor spaces, moreover advocates quality artificial lighting and respect for the circadian rhythms.

Commercial environments:
LED Nature strips improve the perception of colours and visual precision, making them ideal in shop spaces, where the faithful reproduction of colours and materials is essential. At Lluria, we know that each brand has very specific needs in terms of product image and display, making the ability to calibrate intensity, colour temperature and light spectrum fundamental in order to respond to each person’s specific demands.

Nature luz perfecta

Spaces created for physical and emotional wellbeing:
Spas, gyms, and health and beauty centres are increasingly opting for circadian lighting systems to enhance the benefits of treatments, while inducing better relaxation or greater toning, depending on each individual’s needs and preferences.

Nature luz perfecta

Homes that lack natural lighting:
Generally speaking, in places where there is not enough natural lighting, it is extremely important to work with light sources that can simulate it, both to take the place of its total lack or to complement any existing natural light. When combined with a suitable lighting design, there is an optimisation of both the distribution of light in the space and its integration into the architecture.

The future of circadian lighting
Many studies conducted at schools, hospitals and offices show the success of circadian lighting systems when it comes to increasing people’s alertness and improving their wellbeing. There is a difference between the use of light’s colour spectrum to alter the circadian rhythms and its use to support it. The Nature range is a highly valuable tool in lighting designs that bear in mind not only the spectral composition of light, but also its distribution in the space, its visual impact and its emotional and physiological contribution to people’s needs.

Contact us at info@lluria.com and make an appointment to check the effects of the Nature range in our Lluria Xperience laboratory.

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