Olafur Eliasson is a personal favourite of mine; but the sculptor of light and space has influenced us all here at Nulty, and has inspired the way we think and illuminate. You’ll find several of his techniques and philosophies twiddled into many of our projects, and I’d like to give you a little insight to why.
As one of today’s leading inspirers, the Danish-Icelandic artist is widely known across most creative industries for his sculptures and large-scale installations; but of course what interests us most as a lighting design practice is his tactical, thought provoking use of light within his work.
Many of you may know him from his – by far – most capturing installation hidden within the walls of London’s Tate Modern back in 2003, The Weather Project. This piece was comprised of merely mono-frequency lights, haze machines and mirror foil. The installation left visitors confused and mesmerised, with Eliasson’s particular choice of light source giving its guests a saturate, misted perspective under the “City Sun’s” glare. This approach conversed and highlighted the polluted environment Londoner’s loom themselves into on a daily basis, without a second thought or concern.
Another revolutionary piece that captured us all with his use of light can be found within the Foundation Louis Vuitton in Paris. Contact, explores the relations between self, space, and universe by creating a surreal, alternate reality for each guest. The series of installations immerse visitors in chemistry between moving light and shadow, each reacting in their own way.
One perspective we have learnt from Eliasson is the relationship between our bodies and the space that surrounds us. His work emphasises tricks of refraction and scale with light, and tends to involve each viewer in his or her own unique experience to the environment. By playing with light in such a way, Eliasson captures guests with a level of control over their emotions and connection to the space. One piece that truly embraces this principle is Tunnel, a kaleidoscopic journey displayed for visitors at the 2012 Olympics in London. The use of intricate geometric prisms gave viewers walking through in one direction a magical colour utopia, but after exiting the installation they felt themselves leaving only a wake of black behind.
As lighting designers we support and celebrate this methodology and by applying its qualities to our projects, we allow individual users in each space to make a connection with the architecture, environment and brand in just the way we want them to – all by the clever use of light.
One strong example of this from our portfolio is Yauatcha, Broadgate Circle. Our lighting design scheme in the City’s high-end Dim Sum restaurant allowed us to capture the attention of diners from the inside and outside, and immerse them in the true depth of the brand, giving them a distinct “Yauatcha” dining experience. The use of light built the relationship to which the architecture and brand journey blend seamlessly, as you pass through the curved structure while taking in the Dim Sum and sipping on the Sake.
Eliasson encourages the viewers of his work to reflect upon their understanding and perception of the physical world that surrounds them, as well as extrapolating their importance in each of his pieces. Without their perceptive, their reactions and emotions, the installation is merely a collection of materials. It’s only the user that provides it with life.
Embracing and developing this approach into our projects is key to creating captivating spaces, stimulating the desired emotion and immersion between the users and their surrounding environment. Without this relationship, this connection, the world would certainly be a very dull place to live in.
Blog post by Jessica Travers