Shadow – An Elemental Component of Lighting

Yea, its impossible to escape the need to address shadows when talking about lighting. Contrasts, the difference between light and dark, are what provide depth and visual interest to the spaces we inhabit. The dark / shadow-y element is often taken for granted.

When our focus shifts to the form & character of shadows we can appreciate their incredible beauty and graphic qualities.

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This post will go beyond examples of any everyday normally lit spaces that display the contrasts well… straight to extremes that are fun, that are pushing the boundaries of projecting shadow & light, and that display superior shadowplay by every measure!

Cool Shadow-play at normal scale, with practical application:

Calabarte makes lamps from carved gourds.Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 9.59.44 AM

3D printed Lacelamps by the artistic duo Linlin & Pierre-Yves Jacques. Projecting delicate lace patterning to surrounding walls. Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 10.08.17 AMWho needs wallpaper for texture when you can have this!?

3D printed lamps by Nervous System include Hyphae, like veins of a leaf, or coral growth.Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 10.34.36 AM

Peter Pieroborn makes the Plumb light sculptures from yellow cedar, red cedar and mahogany.Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 11.28.16 AM

Finnish designer Kirsti Taiviola displayed ‘illusia’ at Lux Craft exhibition in London UK in 2011. This pendant lamp features a fine, almost invisible texture on a handblown glass ball hidden in the lampshade, which creates a blossom-shaped projection of reflections on surfaces below. Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 3.59.20 PMWith three different levels of light intensity, the visibility of the reflection can be adjusted so the lamp can serve both decorative and illuminating functions. More examples of shadowplay at her link.

hutch studio produced this beautiful pendant of folded paper houses, casting some cool shadows on nearby surfaces! It is comprised of 33 paper houses made from vintage 50’s cookbook pages. They hang with thread from a spiraling wire support.Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 3.56.26 PM

Vibia’s Meridiano stool / footstool / table can work indoor or outdoor. Design by Jordi Vilardell & Meritxell Vida.Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 3.52.45 PM

Daylighting Shadow-play on a slightly larger scale:

LZF’s Paisley screen was created by the Spanish designer Luis Eslava.Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 10.26.53 AM

Creo Hall by Akira Sakamoto Architect & Associates, an excellent example of an architectural designer contemplating the movement of the sun through the space. Photo by Yoshiharu Matsumura.Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 11.27.21 AM

Additional Goodies:

Created by mixed media artist Anila Quayyum Agha, this elaborately carved cube with an embedded light source projects a dazzling pattern of shadows onto the surrounding gallery walls. Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 4.05.50 PMTitled Intersections, the installation is made from large panels of laser-cut wood meant to emulate the geometrical patters found in Islamic sacred spaces. Learn more here.

Shadows do not always have to be dark, they can take form in beautiful color! Starting as a simple circle of white, when one enters the light breaks like a prism.Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 10.15.12 AM

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Ripple, by Poetic Lab. When a beam of light projects through the gently rotating mouth-blown glass dome, shadow and light form a breathtaking, ever-changing pattern. Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 10.22.48 AMPerfect for a spa or relaxation space, right?!

At the Museum of Science & Industry in Chicago US. Focus Lighting uses spotlights shooting 60 feet down through large liquid-filled disks, projecting ripple patterns on the floor to allow exploration of liquid wave dynamics.

Science Storms opening @ The Museum of Science and Industry Chicago
Science Storms opening @ The Museum of Science and Industry Chicago

OK, not something you’d have in your sitting room, but cool just the same!

For additional inspirations, check out more examples at my Pinterest. Add a comment with any great shadows you’ve seen or experienced.

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