Salone del Mobile Milano

Trend Research: The Lighting Experience

Light is everything. If we didn’t have light, we couldn’t eat, we couldn’t live. In this sense, light gives us life, it’s necessary for everything… light is life, happiness, enthusiasm, warmth… love. Light is everything. Ultimately, if there is no light, there is nothing. (Inma Bermúdez, industrial designer) Decorative illumination is the field of design that gives more freedom to shape and which, as a consequence, is much closer to the world of art. (Pablo Figuera and Álvaro Goula, designers)

To all extents and purposes light can be seen as the fourth dimension of architecture. Light is one of the most powerful tools that architects and interior designers have at their disposal, rendering the environment around us visible, enabling us to perceive space in a particular way, to move around inside it, to recognise the colours, shapes, volumes, and make it it more or less comfortable.

Light affects the wellbeing and quality of life of interiors both public and private and of the activities that take place within them. The new technologies have given a boost to the “vital” quality of light, particularly the LED technologies, which enable the spectrum and intensity of light sources to encourage the correct production of melatonin and, therefore, regulate the sleep/wake cycle. 

General Electric’s C-Sleep bulbs, for example, are smartphone-operated via Bluetooth, enabling a calm, relaxing, restful atmosphere to be created before going to bed and a bright, stimulating atmosphere to wake up to in the morning, thus helping to maintain the circadian rhythms and improving people’s ability to maximise the time they spend asleep and wake up with greater energy to face the day ahead.

As well as making lighting systems more sustainable in terms of energy consumption, these technologies are also making the symbiosis between light and the built space more coherent. LED light sources are focused less on “precision”, becoming more integrated and embedded into structural elements (walls, ceilings, floors) and furnishings, producing what is known as architectural light: diffused throughout the spaces rather than concentrated in individual “lighting points”.

Thanks to these properties, light like a building material becomes matter, acquiring a new plasticity that renders it mouldable and malleable, lending itself to innovative formal experimentation. Like American designer Andrea Claire’s creations which, conceptually, are more like ethereal sculptures than actual lamps. 


In particular, the Diamond series consists of two luminous “objects” of eccentric diamond shape reminiscent of the section of a diamond. Crafted from light, sustainable materials – laser-cut cardboard, bamboo and brass – the luminescent surfaces lend themselves to both wall and ceiling mounting, and when combined produce a variegated geometric pattern capable of taking on a multiplicity of configurations and bringing life and dynamism to their surroundings.

The latter is an example of how the lighting sector has also taken on board the principles of personalisation. Testament to this is the fact that lamps and lighting systems are becoming the tools of choice, thanks to the flexibility bestowed by the new smart technologies, which people use to interpret and “reflect” – in the true sense of the word - their moods within the domestic space.

Basically, the challenge for companies and industrial designers is to find the right balance between the two apparently vastly different poles of functionality, meaning the ability to respond efficiently to the need for illumination, and emotionality, which derives from the way in which the space is “felt” by those who live in it and the kind of sensations, more or less positive, more or less beneficial and more or less relaxing, generated by the type of lighting.

In this area, there are two micro-trends that currently best harness the principal evolutions within the sector: Smart Light and PlayLight.