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 Jordi Saladié, founder of Saladie Light Studio

Jordi Saladie Lighting Projects iluminacion viviendas

Saying Jordi Saladié is passionate about light may sound like a cliché, but in his case it is not. The continuous search for beauty, the desire to achieve technical perfection and the intentional creativity in all his interventions has made him a benchmark in home lighting design. His fascination for nocturnal spaces has led him to research extremely dim light scenes that he has named Low Light Atmosphere.

Your father ran a lighting store. Was it inevitable that you would follow in his footsteps and that your future would centre on the world of light?

Deciding between music or light wasn’t a straightforward choice. I liked music too much not to throw myself into it, but I had to admit that my musical talent wasn’t up to my expectations. On the other hand, the light has been with me since childhood, it has always been part of me. It took me a few years to recognize that “visualizing” the perfect light in a space was part of my mental scheme. Fortunately, my father, with his infinite patience, followed me and helped me develop and modernise the family business. Therefore, it was not inevitable, but it was logical that my profession would focus on the world of light; my family was part of the history of the lighting sector in Spain.

Jordi Saladie Lighting Projects iluminacion viviendas
©Jordi Miralles

How would you define your personal relationship with light?

I have always been passionate about seeing how lighting changes everything and, consequently, its power to affect human reactions and behaviour. I consider myself a vital person, with a certain admiration for the night and dimly lit spaces that generate mystery, curiosity or intrigue. This is where my research began. I like to compare music with light. Listening to a classical symphony with full awareness can become a journey through meadows, forests, castles or moments in history. By seeing the light from the same point of view, we generate a series of ideas, dreams or even illusions that motivate us to create plans, or more moments of beauty, for us and the people around us. Don’t you think the science of light starts to get interesting at this point?

You maintain a close personal relationship with great figures in the sector. Is nourishing yourself with their ideas, debating with them, the best way to learn?

It is a subject that falls by decanting. Let me explain. I am a considered a persona non grata among lighting designers, because I am also a reseller of products. And this luck, or this misfortune, means that the light artifacts that pass through my hands are the ones that we finally switch on in our future designs. Which means that we enjoy them from the beginning to the end. But we also suffer if they have design problems or are not technically well made, which that happens more often than we might think. At this point, it is my professional responsibility to properly inform the brands so that this doesn’t happen again. Thanks to this, I have managed to personally meet leading figures in the sector, establishing a certain friendship, which has allowed me to learn a lot from these masters of light. Another way of taking a postgraduate degree in architectural lighting.

Jordi Saladie Lighting Projects iluminacion viviendas
©alvarovaldecantos

The works of Saladie Light Studio are focused on the residential field. Is that an extremely creative area for designing lighting projects?

Well, I must say it is. Our studio is in a remarkably interesting moment, since many of our clients give us free rein to create. They trust our way of thinking about light, for which I am enormously grateful. And taking into account that some projects have quite large budgets, very often we work with private art collections, which is tremendously rewarding. Our aim in the interior spaces is to generate beauty; so, for example, we try to make a parking lot as cool as possible, we give colour to spas or water areas and work below 4 lux, changing day vision to night vision so that users literally enter another dimension. Another example would be private cinemas or music rooms, which are always spaces with infinite creative possibilities. We also pay special attention to the façades and exterior spaces, working with botanicals and treating the trees as living sculptures.

©alvarovaldecantos

You are especially interested in the influence of light on moods and emotions. Do your designs aim to make your clients’ lives more pleasant?

Yes of course. Although in truth all lighting designers say the same. But in my case, I have searched and found areas that have not been widely investigated. My projects are based on the logic of life and nature: during the day we need sun; at night, very little light, or, rather, well projected and pleasant light. I have been researching this path for about twelve years, and I have already come a long way, but I still have a long and passionate search, and it keeps everybody in our studio rather busy. We call this project Low Light Atmosphere and already there are installations in some homes. It consists of creating new scenes, apart from the basic ones, such as welcome, dinner or after dinner; and we add some with funny names, like whiskey time, round midnight, relax or spa. These scenes are the ones that really transform both the space and the user.

Why do you try to set atmospheres with such extremely low lighting levels in your projects?

Little light is enough for the human eye. In fact, nature itself tells us. In the morning, the sun rises, but at night, the maximum we can aspire to are the four lux of the full moon. Therefore, it is very interesting that we stay as close as possible to four lux. Obviously, it would be very different if we had to work or perform certain tasks in that space. The Low Light Atmosphere project was born with the intention of achieving rest, which is what the human body really seeks when it gets home. Below the four lux that I mentioned, the environment is transformed and helps us relax. It is not something easy to obtain, but as always, the position of the fittings fully integrated into the architecture is important, with the help of miniatures or the misused optical fibre. With imagination, with our installers and customers’ patience, we manage to get these marvellous spaces below four lux. And really, it is as if we enter another dimension.

Are you interested in led strips to enhance residential spaces?

Led strips solve difficult problems for us, or rather, they provide us with great solutions. Before we had fluorescent, neon or xenon lamps, now we have a wider range to choose from, thanks to linear LED lamps. We can choose profile, power, colour temperature, length, type of regulation, etc. All this allows us to integrate light into architecture and highlight the necessary elements.

What are your favourite uses?

One of the applications that we most like to design for our clients is hanging light. Whether we use an integrated light mirror, a whole wall with four-sided light or even the façade of a building. It can be summed up in that we must naturally integrate light into each of the spaces, enhancing each one and, at the same time, respecting and shaping their functions. Not only knowing the visible dimensions of the space in which the operates, but also knowing what is hidden behind the walls, allows us to search and find solutions that help us to integrate more naturally the lighting elements that we will use to illuminate the spaces. Ultimately, lighting design is an art and can only be created by totally immersing yourself in it. We must realise that light is not only a decorative element, but its effects on a space and its inhabitants is very wide indeed. Understanding the mechanics, technology, the principles of light itself and their effect on different materials, and above all, asking yourself questions. That is the philosophy behind our lighting design projects.

Saladie Lighting Projects

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