Women in Lighting: The Extraordinary Light

Monthly Column By

Details have the task of expressing that which the basic design requires in that particular point of the object: union or disjunction, tension or lightness, friction, solidity, fragility (…). Details, when they are successful, are no mere decoration. They do not distract or entertain, but induce the observer to understand the whole, to whose essence they necessarily belong”. – Peter Zumthor, Pensare architettura

Make an ordinary day extraordinary and feel inspired.

While we’re waiting for our train, we pop into the store next to the station.

We walk around the space. Everything is softly lit, the atmosphere is upbeat, and our eyes are caught by the intensely blue leather bag laid on the oak wood shelf. We can’t take our eyes off it.

Behind the bag a pearl grey marble panel is lit evenly by a concealed LED luminaire placed between the vertical panel and the horizontal wooden shelf.  A little lens of the luminaire allows the light to wash over the entire vertical panel.  We don’t see the lighting fixture, but we perceive its effect.

The light enhances the veins of the marble and creates a backlight effect for the bag, outlining its shape.  At the top of the shelf, under the front edge, a little slot hosts a linear luminaire placed at 45 degrees with an opal diffuser. This illuminates the object from the front, filling in the contours and giving the viewer the opportunity to appreciate the object as if it were on a stage.

Three-point lighting, a traditional method of illuminating a subject in a scene, with key light, fill light, and backlight, has been meticulously applied to our little stage.

It may seem that everything was placed by chance but behind the display hides the story of the detail. 

The detail tells a story made up of sketches, trial and error.

The detail is the synthesis of the study of materials: their shape, their colour, their exceptions.

The detail is not an ornament; the detail embodies the entire design and construction process.

The detail is the result of careful collaboration and extensive research.

The detail highlights how a passionate process is able to transform the ordinary into the uniqueness of the particular.

Now I ask you: Could you resist the blue bag?

Maria is a member of Women in Lighting


About Maria Favoino

Maria Favoino, Creative director of 18Degrees, Specialist Lighting Design consulting based in London & a member of Women in Lighting. Maria specialises in combining her skills, gained from 10 years of experience in architecture, with the specific application of light in the built environment. Light has always been at the centre of her research and professional growth. Maria’s projects are characterised by the composition of light and the synthesis of pattern, rhythm, symmetry, balance, contrast and proportion.
View all posts by Maria Favoino →