Theory Studies: Archetypical Artificial Lighting Practices In Contemporary Interior Design

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This thesis focuses on identifying, classifying and naming unnamed artificial lighting archetypes in contemporary, professionally designed interiors that are derived from reiterative historical designs. The study is a component of the Intypes (Interior Archetypes) Research and Teaching Project established in 1997 at Cornell University. An Intype is an ideal example of a historical determined practice of design from which similar models are derived, emulated or reiterated. In the 20th century lighting design became a field and an area of specialization in interior design, architecture and engineering. Lighting is a subject of many books and design literature often alludes to its importance. Many of the studies focus on the phenomenon of light itself, including issues related to perception and technical requirements. Although there are some case studies of individual projects, there is little scholarship about lighting for contract interior design. Accounts of the history of interior spaces primarily focus on lighting fixtures or light sources. This study is one of the few of its kind; it creates a typology of the professional design and architectural practices of artificial lighting in interior spaces. The study identifies and documents lighting solutions that have been reiterated through time and contributes to a vocabulary for teaching and comparative analysis. This research offers practice-based research which may encourage design criticism and discourse in both academia and professional practice. Eight artificial lighting Intypes "Color Flood, Follow Me, Float, Halo, Hot Spot, Light Body, Light Seam, Patches" were identified and classified based on a comprehensive survey of contemporary design trade magazines, scholarly articles, secondary sources and site visits of significant recently completed interiors. Each typology was developed by describing a practice s characteristic qualities and tracing its reiterations back historically. Only one of the lighting Intypes, Float, began appearing in articles in the 1920 era; Light Seam followed, but twenty years later in the 1940 decade. Follow Me, Patches and Halo began in the 1950 decade. The remainder of types, however, began in the 1960 and 1970 decades and experienced expanded growth in the 1990 era that accelerated in the 2000 to 2010 decade. The lighting Intypes developed in this thesis were distributed in several practice types. All of the Intypes were used in residential settings, hospitality, retail design and public spaces/institutional. Overall, creative lighting expressions were found more often in hospitality, entertainment and retail venues where lighting contributes significantly to atmosphere and spectacle. In addition to this research thesis, the Artificial Lighting Intypes developed in this study will be disseminated through the free and open website "" a web-based research and teaching site that makes design history and contemporary practice accessible to academics, professionals and students. ii
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