by Emily Dobby
What’s in a light? A lot more than you’d realize. Interior designers already know – and homeowners are fast becoming aware – that lighting is key to creating a warm, welcoming atmosphere.
Research has shown that style, placement and quality of lighting can directly impact our lives, affecting almost 20 different factors for humans, energy efficiency, and architecture.
Good quality lighting improves visibility, safety, and the ability to distinguish between colours and details. It also improves mood, task performance, atmosphere, and social interactions, says the International Association of Lighting Designers.
Ann Squires Ferguson, RID LEED AP and CEO of Western Interior Design + Build includes custom lighting in almost all of her projects. She’s known for turning light into art, using it as an extension of her clients’ personality as well curating the specific atmosphere they’re looking for.
We asked Ann to tell us about the latest in custom lighting trends and to share with us her favourite recent projects.
What trends do you see for custom lighting in 2021 in terms of residential design? And for commercial design?
Trends in residential and commercial design, previously on parallel tracks, are now crossing, intermingling and inspiring one another. Where technical advances were previously more often seen in commercial lighting, and artisanal handcrafting in residential fixtures, not only are we seeing those attributes in both, we are seeing fixtures designed to fit equally well in either environment. Kurva Lighting designed here in Victoria by Mike Randall, and sold at Gabriel Ross, is a great example of that melding, with a high-tech LED light source in a hand bent walnut ribbon, suspended on powered wire, nearly invisible, so that the swoosh of light appears suspending in mid-air.
Other trends in lighting design are similar to those we see across design: additive manufacturing, often referred to as 3D printing, is being used in creative ways to craft unique pieces that simply would not have been possible to make in any production numbers before. The Vancouver & Mexico City based firm Decimal in partnership with Cyrc out of Montreal, recycles PET, what was formerly a single use plastic, into stunningly luminous pendant fixtures.
What has been your favourite custom lighting project to date?
Our favourite projects are the ones we get to work on with our own hands. Years ago, I hand painted all the glass lampshades for Yates St Tap House at my dining table, adding orche and sienna to warm the glow they cast. More recently, one of our designers Sara Peddle wove hemp rope and Edison bulbs around salvaged timbers for a custom pendant at Expedia Cruises Westshore. We also love working with established lighting designers, such as Matthew McCormick, Bocci or ANDLight, all out of Vancouver, to use their expertise in creating a unique piece for an unusual project. Most designers relish the opportunity to colour outside the lines, and clients often end up with a passion piece that marries their idea with professional ability and aesthetic to create something truly special.
What are you working on now?
We are so excited to be working with partners Songhees Nation and Seed & Stone on two cannabis retail projects in downtown Victoria. Each will have its own unique character, with the Signature Edition store featuring local Songhees art and language, and the other celebrating hyper-local materials and craftsmanship, including Vancouver Island marble terrazzo tiles. Lighting design will be a significant feature in both spaces and will be used creatively in product branding.
What would your dream custom lighting project be?
Lighting is being seen in a holistic way now, not as a separate entity. Often it is the experience of being bathed in light, or led by light, or invigorated by light, that designers seek to provide, rather than simply installing a light fixture. Thinking about it in that way, I dream of an immersive experience, an integrated ceiling and wall treatment, undulating ribs that dance and weave, where ribbons of light, both visible and diffused, mimic the way sunlight trickles through windswept leaves in a forest glade. The feeling of simultaneous stimulation and serenity – that would be the lighting installation of my dreams.