HCL is out – long live lighting design
by Joachim Ritter
Just as Harry Potter was loathe to mention certain names (!) lighting professionals are becoming very closed shop when it comes to talking about Hu… Cen… Ligh… It’s like everyone is trying to avoid addressing the topic and never utter the three words without an accompanying sigh. OK, it may still be possible to attract the odd architect by quoting the term that must not be named, but professional lighting designers have long since given up taking this definition of good lighting seriously. Or maybe they didn’t even jump onto the bandwagon in the first place. The initial hype has died down; artificial intelligence, AI, is the next hype we have to deal with, or at least ensure the discussion on/around it remains fact-based.
The time has come to stop talking about Human Centric Lighting and to return to talking about design. Doing something by design means doing something with an intention because you understand the task you have been assigned to do. The lighting design task is closely related to the users of the space to be lit, be it an office space, a cinema, a museum, or their own home. It is all about responding to people’s needs and using light to design the best possible atmosphere to suit the use of the space.
But design can also mean that we have to realise a lighting solution that is not primarily designed in the interest of man but for other living things, such as animals or plants. And it may also mean illuminating a space to meet the requirements of robots and artificial intelligence set-ups. Even robots need lighting conditions that enable them to respond to and interact with their environment. No light leads to no reaction, or an inappropriate reaction. Robots act only, they do not question what they are programmed to do. Just as how software controls a lot of what we do. And we all know how often we need to update software.
Let’s put HCL behind us and refocus on what has been defined as design since the beginnings of architecture and all its related disciplines.