Lighting association chooses Color Kinetics
The International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) is a world-renowned organization dedicated to educating and advancing their prestigious membership — a veritable "who's who" of the industry. Since it was founded in 1969, the Chicago-based organization has been the only "international professional society devoted exclusively to serving the needs of architectural lighting designers," and consequently, its standards — and expectations — are lofty: the IALD "strives to set the global standard for lighting design excellence," and hopefuls consequently undergo a rigorous application process to gain entry into the exclusive community. The IALD wanted these discerning aesthetic tastes embodied in their headquarters, so when, in 2012, the organization decided to renovate their new office, a project which included the implementation of entirely new lighting, it turned to a brilliant array of LED fixtures from another industry heavyweight: Color Kinetics.
The IALD outlined project considerations representative of the broader, modern lighting landscape, specifying that they wanted their new lights to promote energy efficiency, infuse dynamic color, and interplay with natural light, all while complementing their new office, a converted loft space in Chicago's River North design community. The space, redesigned by architectural firm Perkins+Will, is modern and clean; its suspended ceiling panels, walls, and surfaces — all a crisp, reflective white — are accented by exposed timber ceilings and brick siding.
To ally the lighting with this distinctive architecture, a design team from Schuler Shook's Chicago office, led by Principal and IALD member Emily Klingensmith, used a variety of high-quality, high-efficacy light sources. The most striking, integrative components of the team's design are the two .9 m (3 ft) tall by 3 m (10 ft) wide "opal white" regressed panels situated at either end of the office. The twin panels, positioned to afford all employees a view of at least one, are composed of 3 mm (1/8 in) thick Lexan and backed by grids of Color Kinetics iColor Flex MX strands, with nodes spaced 50 mm (2 in) apart. The strands are set 76 mm (3 in) back from the panels, emitting beautiful diffused light through the unique material.
Now, the panels, effortlessly controlled with a Light System Manager, display an ever-shifting array of animations in blue and amber — colors chosen for their proximity to natural light. The two panels mirror each other as they sift through a total of 28 20-minute schemes at random, composing 2-hour shows — alternately blue and amber — from six schemes.
This fresh, varied sequencing keeps the IALD staff — a host of creative types — inspired and energized from day to day, and even promotes health: In the evenings, the panels only display amber schemes to better align with late-night workers' circadian rhythms.
"The intent was to have the lighting be the showpiece," says Klingensmith of the team's efforts. "And everyone from the design team to the manufacturers helped underscore the IALD's philosophy of the power of light to transform."