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.