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Paul James / Pete Brewis - Editorial Comment

December / January 2011/12

An introduction to the latest issue from the editor Paul James and deputy editor Pete Brewis ...

Paul James, editor, writes:
Whilst 2011 might have been a slow year for LED development with plenty of ‘me-too’ products hitting the market at the same time (see Geoff Archenhold’s annual solid-state-lighting round-up starting on page 138), there have been an impressive amount of projects where LEDs are well and truly integrated into the architecture or urban landscape. Chief among these, through significant progress in LED engineering, has been an increasing development of media architecture. Media façades fundamentally alter the perception of buildings and cities by permitting buildings to dynamically change their appearance over time. It is however desirable that media façades are not treated as huge advertising billboards, but interact closely with the building with creative content designed by the architect and lighting designer.

However, unless architects and designers start to understand the full potential of interactive systems over reactive systems, our built environment will suffer from a form of homogenisation that is all too familiar within the framework of globalisation. As Simone Collon, lighting designer and associate at Arup, says in her article on media architecture (page 42), wouldn’t it be nice if an airport or hotel in Italy could look completely different to a counterpart in Turkey? This can be done with clever cultural references and there is no reason why media architecture cannot be part of this, rather than the ubiquitous colour changing splurges we often see, particularly in Asia.

One of the questions we always ask lighting designers in the interview article (this issue being Nathan Savage of Light Touch PLD on page 36) is what sort of projects do you dislike. The answer is nearly always glarey exterior lighting and colour changing media façade lighting. By following Simone’s suggestions of being integrally involved in the design process from an early stage, lighting designers can help to change their own profession’s opinions by creating some truly inspiring pieces of architecture that we can all enjoy. Wherever we are.

Pete Brewis, deputy editor, writes: At times it can seem that LEDs have pervaded (or invaded, depending on your standpoint) pretty much every corner of the lighting industry – certainly there can’t be many manufacturers that haven’t adapted and adopted in a bid to keep up with the changing tide. It’s easy to understand why: as a solution to the twin issues of our time - ecology and economics – LEDs seem to tick all the boxes - even though, as a relatively new technological frontier, some remain unconvinced (as the continuing reaction to Kevan Shaw’s LED article proves - see page 26). As the debate questions the practicalities of lux and lumens, brightness and whiteness, Thomas Schielke’s pick of task light and spotlights from the last decade (page 126) reminded me not only of how far the technology has come, but of the playful side of LED – in particular the way they first caught the imagination of the Ingo Maurers and Philippe Starcks of the world, prompting them to experiment with fresh forms and new ways of experiencing light. While a thorough understanding and interrogation of new technological shifts is undoubtedly important, it’s worth remembering to take a step back from the graphs and charts every once in a while and to apply the lighting designer’s subjective instinct: How does it look? How does it feel?

Here at mondo*arc we try to encompass the gamut of lighting design from the technical through to the decorative. In respect of the latter, we continue where last issue’s London Design Festival special left off with a trip across Europe, taking in three design events - Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven, Qubique in Berlin and Neue Räume in Zurich – and speaking to three designers for who a sense of play is a vital part of the creative process.



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