And Belgian designer Kreon recently released a line of adjustable LED projector-lights that disperse interesting patterns of light, and recessed wall and floor LED luminaires that give off gentle
washes of light. Its lights are not just effective but affective, because the ultimate goal of a lighting designer, says van der Heide, is to offer a sense of comfort. ‘It’s giving people the ability to feel excited about a space, giving a space the right mood at the right time – you walk in and feel great.’
What constitutes ‘good’ lighting varies between professions and indeed within them. Yet scholars and scientists agree with creatives that variations in light can increase wellbeing. Glaring lights are a strain on the eyes. Uniform, institutional light can hamper the recovery of a patient, or the learning curve of a school-age child. Lighting that fluctuates with our circadian rhythms helps us feel fitter: alert and sleepy at exactly the right times. It’s just less quantifiable. You can’t measure good lighting in lumens per square metre just like you can’t measure happiness.
Like scientists, though, the most effective lighting designers should always be asking, ‘Why?’ Why must lighting be a top-down affair? Why does ‘efficient’ have to mean ‘bright’? Why can’t kitchens be lit like the rest of the home?
These questions – particularly the last one – have preoccupied Lars Dinter for years. Dinter joined Gaggenau as a lighting strategist after more than a decade designing lighting, during which time he produced amber-glow pendants, geometric glare-free sconces, ultra-slim tube lights… everything but your average lamp.
When he turned his focus to kitchen lighting, he maintained his ‘big-thinking’ approach. He looked to architecture, art and the high design of Norway-based designer Daniel Rybakken, who incorporates stimulating, life-affirming light effects into the surface make-up of his home furnishings.
Luxury fashion boutiques, museums and French patisseries are a big influence, too, places that appeal to human emotion with highquality, high-concept lighting. In spaces like these, light and shadow interact with the architecture to enhance and romanticise the product on show – which is what they should do in a contemporary kitchen, rather than make the mechanics disappear.