The Power of Lighting: Interview with Jeferson Beltrami

The Power of Lighting: Interview with Jeferson Beltrami



Take a moment to look around and observe the lighting of the space you are in. How does it make you feel? What would you change?

The feeling a room creates can change drastically with even a slight alteration in its lighting. Too much glare can create discomfort; too little light can cause a lack of visibility and pose safety risks. Professional lighting designers work with architects and engineers to create the perfect balance of light in a space, taking into consideration technical requirements, aesthetic intent, efficiency and the well-being of occupants.

We spoke with Dar Lighting Designer Jeferson Beltrami to learn more about the process and importance of effective lighting design.

How does lighting affect how we experience a space?

Jeferson: Light has the power to guide our perception and influence our emotions and contextual understanding of a space. Our experience in a space is the result of how we perceive it through our senses.

Recent studies are revealing the impact lighting can have on our health and well-being. Daylighting and controlled artificial lighting are shown to increase mood, productivity, and even patients’ recovery time.

That means lighting design must be tailored to each space and its purpose. What is your creative process when designing the lighting for different types of spaces?

Jeferson: Different spaces require different design approaches, so the first step is to have a comprehensive understanding of the space, the activities it will host, and its expected consumers in order to define the role of its lighting.

At Dar, we design the lighting of a wide variety of spaces, from schools and hospitals to office buildings, retail spaces and more. In some spaces, the role of lighting is to create a particular atmosphere, convey a message, guide the perception of users, or create a sensory experience. For hospitality spaces such as restaurants, hotel lobbies, guestrooms or retail spaces, the creative process takes on an aesthetic approach, focusing on the interaction of light with the interior design finishes and architecture of a room.

In spaces where the functionality of light is the most important parameter, our approach is guided by the technical requirements such as quantity and distribution of the light, while still taking into consideration the aesthetic aspect of the design.

How do you find that balance then between the technical requirements of a project and aesthetic design?

Jeferson: The conflict between design intent and technical requirements can indeed be a challenge. We must find the balance between all the different parts of the design process, including minimizing energy use, daylighting, coordinating with other teams, and reducing costs – all while preserving the aesthetic character of a space.

Technical requirements help us fulfill the needs of the spaces we are illuminating. They include the quantity of light required for a space, energy consumption limits, the direction of light, and other specifications. In most cases, these requirements are already in favor of the aesthetic or at least do not compromise it.

However, since technical requirements are usually general recommendations set by lighting standards and guidelines, they don’t take into consideration the particularities of each project. It is the role of lighting designers to analyze the requirements and apply them wisely in the design. Depending on the project, we can determine the most important aspects of a design and prioritize them. If issues do arise, we can solve them by revising and adjusting our designs to ensure the best possible outcome for each project.

How do you think about sustainability when choosing lighting options for a project?

Jeferson: Sustainability is one of the pillars of lighting design due the urgent need to mitigate climate change and its associated ecological and environmental risks. During the design process, the sustainability principles guide me on the choices of what to illuminate – what is really necessary to illuminate and how to illuminate them – the quantity and quality of the light, and what is directly related to the choices of luminaires and its components. Besides making use of energy-efficient lighting fixtures, it is equally important to be aware of the life-cycle, modularity, recyclability and carbon footprint of lighting products.

How do you integrate natural light with artificial lighting to produce a more sustainable design?

Jeferson: Our approach is to make use of artificial lighting where natural lighting is not possible or not enough. Nowadays the lighting industry is supported by the Internet of Things, which allows for such an integration through the use of interactive lighting fixtures, connectivity, data, lighting sensors and lighting controls. These systems can precisely quantify natural lighting in any space and provide artificial lighting to complement it where necessary.

Are there more technological advancements being made in lighting design?

Jeferson: Of course. The lighting industry is coming up with new technologies and improvements every day. What was groundbreaking technology two years ago might be considered obsolete nowadays. Besides improvements on the performance and connectivity of the IoT, the industry is embracing sustainable solutions and creating systems that measure and control lighting values in real time. In the end, lighting fixtures and devices are our tools and with more advanced tools we can provide better and more efficient lighting design.

What are some unexpected uses of light that can contribute to the sustainable development of society and our communities?

Jeferson: One can easily point out the amount of unnecessary lighting that is used in our cities to the detriment of the environment. Optimizing energy use and effectively integrating artificial lighting in our designs is the first step.

However, the use of light can also support our efforts towards sustainability. Energy-efficient light fixtures in indoor farms can reduce food waste, allow for local production of food, and produce higher quality crops. Light can also be used in germinal disinfection, providing a more energy-efficient process than other disinfection methods.

In the end, it comes down to how we use technological advancements and creative solutions to optimize lighting design and guide the progress towards a sustainable built environment.