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Functional aesthetics – when light beams take over from lamps

02 Mar 2020


Scenarios ranging from calming red to stimulating blue light support one's natural biorhythms. Functional aesthetics in lighting design is one of the major themes at Light + Building 2020. (Source: Messe Frankfurt / Pietro Sutera)


It is sometimes quite nice if details remain unseen. According to the maxim of the now hundred-year-old Bauhaus movement, both internal and external architecture can be enhanced when ‘form follows function'. This effect is particularly visible where lighting is concerned. Along with the strategic use of windows or light shafts, cleverly placed light sources are, therefore, increasingly taking on the job of light provision. Thanks to high-efficiency LED technology, such light sources are already almost without housing and no longer have any kind of form of their own. Leaving the focus on the light itself.

This lighting aesthetic not only meets individual needs in private spaces; functional luminaires are also particularly relevant in the work environment. Specifically, where personal well-being has a direct influence on productivity. Concentrated thought is easier to sustain for long periods in near daylight conditions than beneath pulsating neon tubes or in offices that look more like a darkroom. Added to this is the fact that the latest lighting technology can easily be adapted to changing conditions. In a hospital, for instance, variable coloured lighting can significantly reduce recovery times. Blue tones stimulate, whilst red tones soothe. The technology is called ‘Human Centric Lighting'.


Luminaires that recede into the visual background in order to give prominence to the light itself are a part of the ‘Functional Aesthetics' theme at Light + Building 2020 in Frankfurt am Main. (Source: Messe Frankfurt / Pietro Sutera)


But functional-aesthetic light is also popular as a design feature in its own right. Light has the capacity not only to reveal design qualities, but also to enhance them. Position, intensity, angle of beam, light spectrum - all these factors contribute to experiencing the different aspects of a building or an interior. The effect is, however, only complete if the luminaire itself does not attract too much attention. Another stylistic advantage is the new flexibility that this form of lighting brings. The lighting portfolio is so huge that various scenarios are possible in one and the same room, imitating equally successfully anything from bright summer light to expansive sunsets or powdery mountain mists.

Under the heading ‘Fascinating' - one of the top themes at the show, Light + Building 2020 will be staging a series of design concepts for lighting and luminaires. This will also include the notion of ‘functional aesthetics'. The theme will focus on luminaires that recede into the background so as to give prominence to the light itself.


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