Lighting Zeitgeist: Culture, Climate and Materials (Part 2 of many)
Culture, climate and materiality form the three pillars of light that are the bedrock for our critique of the lighting zeitgeist.
Climate and materiality are two great concerns within lighting, but while they possess enormous influence, they do have clearly defined boundaries. The broader a definition is of culture, the more accurate it becomes; the inverse for both climate and materiality. The flexible nature of culture holds a great deal of interest for design, in that how we manifest objects, systems and behaviors through design is a large part of the dialogue surrounding the question; what is culture? Lighting solutions internationally balance universal ideas about light with local variations. A given culture’s position in the global economic development cycle is often reflected in its use of lighting in urban, night environments. However, striking a balance between regional differences and globalization is often a challenge.
- The culture of lighting defines us. In an era that is increasingly segmented, with a renewed focus on site-specific, culturally aware design, every practitioner in the built environment can benefit from better understanding the implications of culture in lighting design. While the nature of culture is interesting, attempting to define or sculpt its wide boundaries is not the primary aim of this posting- Starting a dialog on the differing nature of culture globally as it affects light is- we are interested in how culture informs light and affects how we perceive light.
- Every culture has had a distinct relationship with light, and that continues today. As it is manifest, light defines broader tastes and styles within a culture. And, this has deeper implications than mere fashion or vogue. As more firms and practitioners begin to operate across geographic boundaries, understanding cultural drivers is critical for meeting the needs of the populous- From lighting the villages of India to designing civic, residential and institutional environments in New York City, to exploring the burgeoning and conflicted world of the Middle East, every practitioner in the built environment can benefit from better understanding the implications of culture in lighting design.
- What are the elements that define individual cultures? We might list the arts, architecture, technology, economics, religion, literature, politics, tradition and ritual, human biology and physiology, local conditions, climate, and natural resources. In analyzing a culture’s unique views on lighting, we might consider light in relationship to each of the above elements. While certain elements, like the human physiological response, remain consistent cross-culturally, others, such as climate or religious traditions, can vary immensely.