Let There Be Light

One of the strongest gestures to define a space is the manipulation of light. It enlivens space, creates connection to the environment beyond, and makes a space feel larger than the confines of its perimeter. This light filled renovation was designed by the bay area based architecture firm of Malcom Davis. When I saw the images of this 1905 family row house, I responded to the simplicity of implementing a few broad design choices, which transform the space. The key to the success of this project lies not only the amount of glass, but thoughtful and creative placement. For example, the shower entry from the deck creates an ‘outdoor shower’ in the summer months, and a frosted glass on the door provides privacy when needed. Similarly, the rear elevation of the home treats the entry to the basement level with equal consideration to its occupants. What a lovely decent, providing light and view. Light from above from the ridge skylights creates a wash of light, filling the entire space, diffused by the frosted glass, managing light quality and focusing views out the clear glass doors to the garden.

The architect opened the central core of the house by relocating the main staircases, installing interior glazing at both floors and walls, and adding ridge skylights. Exposed steel moment frames provided the necessary structure to open the floor plan and allow for larger areas of glass. The material palette of natural cedar shingles, painted wood paneling, marble, exposed steel, and board-form concrete creates a modern yet timeless aesthetic that complements the original house.

Images and excerpts sourced at Malcom Davis Architects.


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Dramatic Effect of Light

Light, in design is a tremendous element of power. It, like no other, provides opportunity to create drama and exude a feeling or mood. The manipulation of light in architecture and the spaces we occupy, offers an experiential moment to reflect on how we interact with space. The image above is one of the most beautiful examples of this I’ve seen. A long, dark, unlit cavernous space lit only by the glowing green glass of the wine bottles in this cellar. Gorgeous and dramatic, it demands the attention of those who dare enter this space.

Often times, we sprinkle lighting around in our homes and offices, to provide an overall light level in a space. But, when you think about it, high light levels are only required while on task, like cooking or writing, while light required when passing through a corridor is considerably less. When we strategically place light where we need it and where we want to draw attention, and let the balance drop off into the murky shadows, we create intimacy and focus. Below, these simple spaces use these simple strategies beautifully. Go ahead. Look around your room. What do you need to see?

Images sourced from the stunning design work of Joseph Dirand.


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These beautiful light fixtures are created from waste. Hard to believe, isn’t it?  Whether working in recycled aluminum or cardboard, the simple forms created by Graypants, are functional works of art. What I love the most about these sculptural elements, is the play of light in a dark room, as a result of the transparency of the material. The cavities inherent in the cardboard construction allow for ‘light leaks’ which dance around the room, creating both direct and indirect light source. Brilliant.  The diagram Gray pants has created sharing their production process explains the closed loop philosophy. Made from discarded material, these fixtures are fully recyclable.

In their own words:  ”Graypants is a conceptual design studio. We responsibly create products, architecture, and other fun things around the world. Founded in 2008, graypants operates teams in Seattle and Amsterdam solving problems and collaborating with clients and retail partners worldwide. We strive to realize ideas that are thoughtful. Whether it be furniture, lighting, architecture or graphics, each of our projects has a story. Most importantly, we have fun doing it! We enjoy collaborating with all walks of life – that is where we find true inspiration.


Images and excerpts sourced at the designers website:  Graypants

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Project lighting…

How much do I love this hydrangea lamp by Sarah Foote?! Made from hundreds of hand-stamped ash veneer circles… quite a looker, don't you think? Can't even begin to imagine how many hours it would take to handmade something intricate like this. I am not a big DIYer, wish I was though! But it would be super fun to make something special for the home. So here goes my very first DIY wish list…

… paper leaf lamp made with translucent paper. Love how organic this lookss. I don't even mind the rough gathering at the top, it adds a nice handmade quality to it. [ click here for the how-to. heads-up, the page is translated from Dutch to English! ]

… I have a thing for chaotic textures and this woven lamp has my name written all over it. Made with stripes of wood veneer and an Ikea cord set. Thinking to use a few wood variety? [ click here for photos and instructions ]

…. okay, THIS paper pendant lamp I am fascinated with. It's all about precision and it definitely tests your origami skills. I already know this would take me hours to make, but I'm up for a good challenge! [ click here for pattern template and in-depth instructions ]

… here's a fold-in-progress photo, isn't it amazing?!

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