Light has always been the fundamental element allowing us to act, live, and interact. Without light, people were almost unable to live. They went to sleep at sunset and everything started again at sunrise. If you think of what we consider today as being the most precious elements, like gold, silver, or diamonds, they all reflect and refract every photon of light. Light has an ancestral value for us.

Providing light is of course a big task and a beautiful adventure. I think that design companies like mine have a double challenge: they have to share all languages of things and at the same time be able to provide the fundamental performance of light. It’s an incredible crossing of experiences and duties that we have, and it’s fantastic.

Jenny Holzer exhibition in Rome, 2007
Our adventure is not only technological. Technology is a reflection of our knowledge and our aspirations, but it is not the only element. When we create, we contribute to the cultural dynamics of our society; we share a vision. The evolution of technology over the last 100 years has been unbelievable. We have to understand that our fire is not necessarily the same any more. New technologies are appearing and our fireplace has to be different. The way light interacts with architecture and with people’s lives is different, and what lighting companies have to do is to try being contemporary and going beyond the industrial perspective. We are already discussing control, how everyone can customise his/her own private perception and need of light through new ways of managing its temperature and intensity, for example. Transparent walls will bring light to the outdoor space or receive light from the outside, and energy will be transferred through the air and not by wires.

What do we need? Today, like never before, we have to find a synthesis of emotions, technology, poetry, needs, messages, aesthetic and political values. Not only is technology changing, but also society, and our social and private behaviours as well. We have to push our imagination, skills, and creativity in order to be prepared to contribute to improving people’s lives. I want to be ready to find the next super talented designer, to be updated about the latest technological advantages, to have the vision to supply the human mutants of this new era with the same poetry and relief as that of the ancient flames burning in a bonfire under the stars.

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City by Steven Holl, Image courtesy of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Photo: Roland Halbe
Piero Gandini, photo: Bob Krieger
This article appeared in DAM62. Order your personal copy.