Raising the Mood with Colour and Light

Its medieval Britain, as you trudge through mud and cow dung from your grey, brown hovel, the low grey clouds can’t be bothered to rain properly, instead they just hang about and keep you damp and cold. When you get to the parish church as you are obliged, there is a break in the clouds and the stained-glass windows burst into a myriad of colours, can you imagine what effect this would have on your mundane existence? Even Aristotle believed colour was sent by God from heaven through celestial rays of light . (Obviously, he was wrong but people believed that for some 2000years!)

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John Piper’s Baptistry window, Coventry Cathedral: photo by Steve Cadman:

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Using light and colour to raise the spirits; to inject joy into our lives is a well-established method. A little colour goes a long way and can refresh a space in a most delectable way, less is more but when you get it right, the results can brighten the darkest medieval hovel!

Bocci is a design and manufacturing company based in Vancouver and Berlin. Founded in 2005 under the creativedirectorship of Omer Arbel, Bocci in their own words ‘is committed to fostering a lateral and open-ended relationship between creative direction and craft.’
(Image: Bocci ‘73.3V’)

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Victoria and Albert Museum, London – Bocci ‘28.280’

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Bocci launched with one lighting design, ‘14’, which became an instant classic and remains a design staple and bestseller. The company also has table and wall lights, looking at these products definitely takes me back  to an those innocent, carefree, time, where losing my ‘Marbles’ was just losing balls of rainbow painted glass to play, well Marbles.

.Bocci ’84’ Wall and Table light

From  Foscarini,  on the Venetian island of Murano, the aptly named  Supernova will help give your design that supercharged colour bomb, they do however produce a less vibrant version for those who find they need eye surgery, after staring at it for to long.

(Image: Foscarini Supernova Sospensione 07.)

For a more subtle injection of colour, one of my design favourites from Foscarini ( I love a bit of retro inspired design) is the Couchin. The use of a white pendant shown here, well it would just look wrong wouldn’t it ? Foscarini make products that are as beautiful when they are lit, as when they are off, in their own words ‘ Foscarini lights are conceived as design objects that transform spaces: we bring beauty, we stir emotions.

Foscarini Couchin at Bar la Farfalla

Another Murano product that catches the eye is the ‘Wild Card’, designed by Brogliato Traverso. The manufacture requires exceptional mastery of glass, which is free-blown (no mould used) by ARS Murano. The single glorious piece has blue glass within, (other colours such as ruby and tobacco are available.) A chromed structure holds both the lamp and shade, with the clear cable running separately, can you imagine how even in daylight hours the sun would catch the base ? The product is as much an objet d’art as it is a light product .

‘wild Card’ designed by Brogliato Traverso: photo courtesy of Cameron Peters Fine Lighting

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As mentioned previously the use of colour goes very well when used in a space when finishes are neutral, your eyes are simply drawn to the table lamp. A good example is the design classic from Luceplan the ‘Costanza’. (Right)

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Closer to home and featured in May 2020 on ‘The Light Review ‘ we have Nicola Schellander.

Nicola produces some inspiring colours and forms from her studio in England from contemporary crystal.
As the lights are all handmade, you will always have something that is unique.

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As Peter Younie of Cameron Peters Fine Lighting writes ‘This year, the success of the vaccine roll-out means that life can begin to return to normal – surely this is a time for optimism, for joy, for delight, and mayn’t that encourage the first tentative use of colour, after nearly a decade of miserable, depressing, dreary grey?

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.When I worked for Louis Poulsen one of the amusing tongue-in-cheek conversations I recall, was when I asked about the design development process, ‘Well, we do develop new products; we release our design classics in different colours!’

(Image: Arne Jacobsen’s AJ PHS in FULL COLOUR!)

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And if you want to encapsulate the beauty that can be achieved by introducing solid colour into lighting products, who better than a company with designs by Verner Panton in its portfolio?

Blue and orange Verner Panton Flowerpot Enamelled Pendant Lamp, Louis Poulsen,  Denmark,1969

(Photos courtesy of 1stDibs)

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Finally, a fitting way to close to this piece is to finish where we attempted to start in March last year, which is with British visual artist Liz West.

After reviewing her work at the Daniel Benjamin Gallery in Notting illl, London, around this time last year (Light Creators: Liz West) just before the country was thrown into lockdown, we were due to visit her ‘Light Works’ exhibition in Cheltenham, which – inevtiably – we were unable to attend.

West’s broad body of work encompasses site-specific installations, sculpture, and wall-based artwork.

‘West creates vivid environments that mix luminous colour and radiant light and aims to provoke a heightened sensory awareness in the viewer through her works.’ We all look forward to a time where we can experience the joy of West’s broad body of work up close and personal. In her own words ‘Our understanding of colour can only be realised through the presence of light’.

Liz West, In-Descent’ 2019 – © Jussi Tiainen / Hyvinkää Art Museum 2020′

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Liz West, Your Colour Perception, 2015: © Stephen Iles

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Liz West, Our Colour Reflection, 2016 :  © Jussi Tiainen / Hyvinkää Art Museum 2020

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Breaking News!

Celebrating colour

Liz West has been confirmed by ILP as the next speaker for How To Be Brilliant, the lighting industry’s only event series designed to attract students, interns, apprentices, and new entrants to the lighting profession.

Known for creating immersive environments that mix luminous colour and radiant light, Liz’s work is an ongoing exploration of human colour perception and light fields, aiming to provoke a heightened sensory awareness in the viewer.

The session will take place at 1pm on 10 May.

Register for: How to be Brilliant at Celebrating Colour

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Liz West

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About Chris Fordham

You can contact Chris at cf@thelightreviewonline.com

“‘Architecture is the masterly, correct and magnificent play of masses brought together in light. Our eyes are made to see forms in light; light and shade reveal these forms; cubes, cones, spheres, cylinders or pyramids are the great primary forms which light reveals to advantage; the image of these is distinct and tangible within us without ambiguity’ ”
— Le Corbusier. 'Vers une architecture' [Towards a new Architecture] (1923)

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