Welcome to our first entry in the Color Kinetics Lighting Designer Inspiration Series. Why did we decide to start this series? Light brings people together to engage and interact – and with each other; it connects us as one lighting family. This series is created by Lighting Designers for Lighting Designers, to illuminate, inspire, share thoughts, and reflect on the ever-expanding possibilities of light.
Sabrina Mandel is a renowned Lighting Designer based in Argentina. She has been working with Color Kinetics dynamic lighting for the last 15 years Sabrina approaches lighting design as an artistic experience and sees a clear evolution in her profession towards increased connectivity and greater consideration of societal and environmental issues. She is particularly interested in evoking ephemeral moments through the use of artificial light as an architectural tool.
“My challenge as a lighting designer is to ensure everyone is as surprised as I am by the greatness and magic of light. Characteristics like reflection, contrasts, brightness, colors, and glorious plasticity make its use unlimitedly magical.” – Sabrina Mandel, Lighting Designer
Dynamic light: the fourth dimension of architecture?
“Is dynamic light the fourth dimension of architecture?” Most of you are probably asking yourselves, “Why is this a question?“ since the answer is clear: because we are dealing with something that is invisible. I want to look at dynamic light in a different way.
What is dynamic light? Dynamic light is LED lighting created by powerful and dynamic sunlight. Dynamic light is nature’s light. Ever since architecture existed, it has been bathed in powerful and dynamic sunlight. For example, shimmers and reflections of light in contact with water have been used for centuries to enhance plazas and patios. Natural light varies greatly both in its day and night cycle and in its annual cycle. It affects how we feel. We all yearn the amazing sight of a sunset when we haven't seen one in a while. In my opinion, dynamic light is not the fourth dimension of architecture, but rather what it generates and makes us feel when we walk through it or live it.
My first light memory is of the Morimoto Restaurant in Philadelphia created by the famous designer Paul Gregory. In my first steps of study, I researched existing lighting projects and carried out my first dynamic lighting projects. I began to analyze this project’s construction details and its light architectural resolution, and I found it fabulous. I even had the pleasure of meeting Paul in Boston.
The strongest impact and a break in my relationship with light due to the emotional impact it had on me was when I was able to see the ‘Lake of Dreams’ at the Wynn Casino in Las Vegas. Seeing and feeling the changes of light was very exciting. Those light scenes elicited a lot of emotion: they made me happy… it was magical.
“I love light. I am an Architect. I am a Lighting Designer. I am a Lover of dynamic light. I find magic in light. The more I read, the more magic I find.“ – Sabrina Mandel, Lighting Designer
My thoughts on Dynamic light:
- Dynamic light is nature’s light. We design our environment around it. Most architectural lighting has been designed by nature’s light for years. Now we have changed the interpretation of our world. Architectural lighting is no longer lit by nature’s light. We proudly use artificial light.
- Lighting should not be designed as static. If the light does not change, the elements below change cause the light to bounce differently and to generate different shadows. Static light is light that no longer is, but light that was. Light is never static, because if the light doesn't move, you move. Consider this: You are never static. Light moves with you.
- Light changes colors. We know that. At night there is a lot of activity in cities. Where there is activity, there is artificial light. Why should it be static light? We have become the indoor generation. On average, we spend more than 90% of our time indoors. Where there are shadows, there is movement, and where there are highlights, the light is not static.
- Lighting changes our mood. Where there is life, there is light. Where there is life, there is dynamic light. Understanding the circadian cycle reveals that environmental factors affect the biological rhythm of people.
“We don't feel well every day. We are not the same every day. Light must accompany us. Light must accompany our state of mind.” – Sabrina Mandel, Lighting Designer
Lighting design is asking us to return to our origins. Static and constant light is the most anti-natural thing for humans. The alternation between light and darkness is decisive for living organisms, creating a silent dialogue that orchestrates the optimal functioning of the body and mind. Dynamism is a very effective quality to get our attention while we are perceiving a space. Today we have tools that allow that dynamism to provide meaning to a place or transmit an idea through data in real time. Dynamic lighting scenes apply for both the annual programming of a façade and for the lighting of a hall in a building. It can also be done in an interactive lighting environment.
When you think of dynamic lighting, do you think only of RGB? A single change in intensity or color in light is already dynamic light. Therefore, dynamic lighting is much more than just RGB. Dynamic light is light that changes. Nowadays all lighting systems, automated or not, are moving light, both in RGB color movement and in white tone movement (as natural light does). Time is already one more tool to design with light and not an item to plan at the end when designing.
Thinking about light implies thinking about the biological rhythms that program the functioning of living beings. Biodynamic lighting is an experimental field that has many areas of opportunity. The fundamental premise is to recognize that the cycle of sunlight has a close relationship with life, and based on this, to build a perspective where quality and a holistic understanding of light are privileged without the natural-artificial dichotomy, open the door to a new form of sustainability, and responsibility for lighting. It is impossible to deny, illumination is asking us to return to our origins.