"Lighting design is both art and science. An interior designer must have an in-depth understanding of how to incorporate natural light as well as electric lights into their work, as light selection can either bring comfort and enhance other attributes, or have a detrimental impact if it causes glare or discomfort."
-Sara Namdarian, Interior Designer at LIV Design Studio

Lighting in the interior design world is often thought of in terms of what it brings to a space, rather than a focal point in its own right. Perhaps it is the universal nature of light that causes so many to take it for granted. In the absence of light, there would be no design in the first place.

Beyond this fundamental function, lighting serves to define the identity of a space, informing how end-users feel when they enter and interact with it. Allowing natural light to permeate a room inherently connects it to nature, putting the space at the whim of the elements. Intervening through the use of various fixtures and tones allows designers to carefully manipulate light, illuminating different aspects as desired or using different hues and tones to affect how it's viewed.

In this article, we'll explore three burgeoning trends in lighting design, providing examples of how lighting can go beyond a mere statement and become an integral whole all its own.

[Pictured in header: 'Leaf' by Haberdashery Lighting]

Statement Lighting Trend 1: Sculptural Lighting

"Sculptural lighting is the marriage of bold forms and textures with lighting incorporated to create new possibilities for the design of a given space."
-Sara Namdarian, Interior Designer at LIV Design Studio

As more designers come to appreciate the power of building spaces around light rather than vice versa, the role taken by fixtures has changed drastically. Once, fixtures were carefully designed to integrate into their surroundings – matching the tones and energy of a space seamlessly. In these examples, we see larger-than-life, sculptural lighting elements that form the backbone of their respective designs.

Lucent was created by renowned artist Wolfgang Buttress to become the centrepiece at the John Hancock Centre in Chicago. The piece was concep wtualized as a map of the stars themselves, with a 4-metre diameter and 3,115 individual 'stars', represented by tiny holes, comprising its form. Fibre optic cables are used to emit a pulsating ambient light from each spot, which reflect doubly in the mirror above and water below to create a sense of the infinite – while also adding another angle by which guests can take in the piece, mimicking views from both the North and South hemispheres.

For Restaurant ENIGMA in Barcelona, Spain, this means going to great lengths to create a space that embodies the "enigmatic" vision of the conceptual restaurant. Working with RCR Arquitectes, famed chef Albert Adrià created this stunning yet imposing space that engaged every sense of its attendant diners. Blending into the ceilings themselves, a dim glow is emitted by the unique stone and the ceiling lights behind to give the unapologetically innovative restaurant a cavernous feel that's like nothing else before it.

[Pictured left to right: Restaurant ENIGMA by RCR Arquitectes, photographed by Hisao Suzuki; Lucent by Wolfgang Buttress, photographed by Mark Hadden and Susan Aurinko]

Statement Lighting Trend 2: New Crystal

Chandeliers, used correctly, lend an opulent feel and a sense of dramatic luxury to their surroundings. Crystal has a unique ability to refract and capture beams of light like nothing else, projecting bright glimmers or bathing a room in warm light depending on the time of day.

These chandeliers may not be what come to mind when you think of the lighting form, though, pushing the fixtures into an artistic form of their own. In 'Leaf' by Haberdashery Lighting, a canopy of porcelain leaves coated in various metal glazes descends gently from strands of microfine thread which appear almost ethereal from below. Mounted above a stone cylinder, the chandelier casts lifelike shadows upon the structure and floor below to mimic an opening in a densely wooded forest.

A custom chandelier also lends prestige and an air of bold confidence to Prague's J&T Bank in the form of 'Stellar Dust', designed by BOMMA. Made to mirror the infinite nature of the universe itself, the elegant shapes of this chandelier form two "cosmic waves" which sweep through the entrance of the bank, with delicate crystal objects juxtaposed against the clean lines of the sultry interiors.

In 'Flylight' by
Studio Drift, countless delicate glass tubes come together to resemble a flock of birds flying together – a symbol both of the freedom of flight and a comment on the behaviour of the group vs. the individual. This thought-provoking display was designed to light up in unpredictable ways, responding to external stimuli rather than having a pre-programmed pattern – much like real birds.

[Pictured top to bottom: 'Leaf' by
Haberdashery Lighting; 'Stellar Dust' at J&T Bank by BOMMA, photographed by Václav Mlynář; 'Flylight' by Studio Drift]

Statement Lighting Trend 3: Integrated Strip Lighting

"A well-lit room is a combination of layered lighting, which come together to create a diversified yet harmonious accent to the space through direct, indirect, and semi-direct lighting."
-Sara Namdarian, Interior Designer at LIV Design Studio

As a result of its slim profile and adaptability, strip lighting has necessarily been relegated to serving a supporting role in most interiors. However, recent trends in the interior design industry have brought these types of lighting to the forefront – embracing their capability for integration by fusing them into new forms and unexpected structures.

In LIV Design Studio's own work, strip lighting has been used to provide elegant backlighting and a natural feel to common areas, as seen here in the Entertainment Room at Brentwood Hillside by Concord Pacific. Owing to massive floor-to-ceiling windows and 360-degree views of the surrounding skyline, this relaxed yet refined communal space is brimming with natural light which is absorbed by and reflected off of the tiled stone floors.

To amplify this organic effect, a large solid stone accent wall was added – both to clearly delineate between the seated lounge area and the adjacent games area. To draw attention to this distinct feature while subtly illuminating the space in low light, LED channel strips were integrated in a criss-cross pattern which forms geometric shapes that loom over the upscale billiards table. These strip lights are also mirrored in the tops of walls encompassing the room, providing a consistent feel and a warm, natural glow to the space.

[Pictured above: Brentwood Hillside by Concord Pacific, designed by LIV Design Studio]

How LIV makes a statement with lighting

Elsewhere in LIV Design Studio's work, lighting has taken on more nuanced roles that elevate it from statement into centrepiece.

At Avenue One by Concord Pacific, LIV's interior designers sought to create an illuminated accent wall which would serve to both welcome guests in bright fashion, while encapsulating the uniqueness of Avenue One's breathtaking Pacific Northwest setting. To create the desired effect, rods of light were affixed in an irregular pattern that was intended to conjure images of gently falling raindrops – an all too common sight in Vancouver.

One of LIV Design Studio's most creative uses of lighting to date can be seen in the 'Ode to Canada' ceiling mural at The ARC Vancouver by Concord Pacific. In collaboration with local graphic designer Candelaria De La Losa and Barrisol, the mural was brought to life in the form of a stretched fabric ceiling, illuminated from behind by a custom-planned lighting grid from Nemetz Lighting. Positioning both the mural and the lighting was integral to capturing the true spirit of this project, as the abstract maple leaf mural can be seen from the streets below even at night, refracted through the glass-bottomed swimming pool.

A crystal chandelier takes centre stage in Concord Pacific's Vancouver Presentation Centre, tying together the palatial entryway and lobby with an elegant, visually-pleasing display that greets guests. Incorporated seamlessly into its surroundings, the grand chandelier has a repeated waveform that creates symmetry in the space that subtly transitions from one end of the room to the other. The overall form of the custom fixture embodies the beauty in shape, balance, movement, pattern, repetition and rhythm; its scale balancing with the spacious reception area.

[Pictured left to right: Avenue One by Concord Pacific, designed by LIV Design Studio; The ARC Vancouver by Concord Pacific, Designed by LIV Design Studio; Concord Pacific's Vancouver Presentation Centre, designed by LIV Design Studio]


As these examples show, designers should no longer feel constrained by the need to make lighting adapt to its surroundings, instead letting it take on a life of its own and letting the rest of the space adapt accordingly.

Lighting can define the very structure of our interiors, dictating how we take in the space and how we feel upon entering – or, it can be integrated more subtly to serve a specific purpose. Today's interior designers are constantly on the lookout for new ways to wield lighting as a tool for both enriching spaces and taking on a crucial role in developing their identity, whether through sculptural lighting built into the architecture itself, creative uses of chandeliers, or more covertly through integrated strip lighting.

[Pictured here: Custom chandelier at Avenue One by Concord Pacific, designed by LIV Design Studio]

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *