Studio AE

Light as emotion | from functionality to the mastery of architectural design

"Architecture is the scholarly, correct, and magnificent game of forms brought together under the light." Le Corbusier, architect

We spend 80% of our time indoors | Occhio Project 1 presentation

On June 21, 2022, on the longest day of the year, in a small setting at the Project 1 headquarters, Ochhio, a premium lighting manufacturer headquartered in Germany, held its presentation.

The event was an inspiring one and I wish to pass on to you, our reader, the information gathered therein in a structured way, to convey the quality, importance, and emotion that we can create through interior lighting.

Unbeknownst to us, we spend most of our time indoors: at home, at the office, shopping, at a restaurant, etc. The pandemic has further reduced our time outside in the sunlight. We spend over 80% of our time indoors. Therefore, the quality of the space we live in and use for various activities is very important and interior lighting plays an essential role.

Types of light sources

Light sources have diversified throughout human history: the sun and stars, then fire, candles, and gas lamps.

The major change came with the advent of electricity, with Thomas Edison's invention of the light bulb in 1878-79, followed by its widespread use. After this milestone, other types of light sources came to life: fluorescent tubes and bulbs, halogen bulbs, incandescent bulbs, gas discharge lamps, etc.

Starting in 2014, after the development of the LED, every aspect of interior lighting has been opening up and developing. The first pragmatic factor was electricity consumption reduction, followed by the new shapes, the reduced sizes, and the adjustments that can be explored by manufacturers. For architects, being able to work with more light is a dream come true. Considering the relatively short time since the launch of the LED, indoor lighting is still an innovative field, and our creativity allows us to explore new dimensions.

Types of lighting | classification

There are many numbers and criteria relating to the types of available lighting forms and they can easily be confusing.

We enjoy sunlight and the comparison is related to natural light which also varies during the day.

• Color temperature

It tells us how "warm" the interior light is. It is measured in degrees Kelvin and ranges from 2500 ̊ K ​​(warm light) to 6000 ̊ K ​​(cool light). The warm light reminds us of the reddish-yellow candlelight that accompanied us for thousands of years. For comparison, natural light has 20,000 ̊ K.

Traditional measurement in Kelvin degrees started with the incandescent light bulbs that had a metal, tungsten filament, and the metal changed color depending on the temperature, which was measured in Kelvin degrees. Today, color temperature refers to the spectrum between warm and cool, even though we no longer use filament bulbs.

• Color rendering index | CRI (Color rendering index) 0-100

The rendering index is a qualitative measurement for a lighting source used to indicate the extent to which that light source reveals the true colors of objects, compared to natural light. For example, in an incorrectly lit indoor space, a shirt can appear to be black, while outside, in broad daylight, we will discover that it has a deep blue shade.

When the color rendering index is zero, we call this monochrome light. If the index is close to 100, then the artificial light is very close to natural light. Presently, the highest value obtained by LED manufacturers is 95-97.

The European Union regulations stipulate a CRI level for outdoor lighting of at least 70 and a CRI of over 80 for indoor lighting. Naturally, the higher the color rendering index, the higher the quality of the interior lighting.

• Lux (lx)

Lux is a unit used to measure the luminous flux relative to the surface. It is expressed in lux/m². In an office, on average, we are talking about 350-500 lx/m², while in a TV studio, a value of 1000 lx/m² is acceptable. Software such as Dialux allows us to perform studies, compare options and make very precise calculations as early as the project concept phase so that we can determine the amount of light on each interior surface and make the most suitable decisions for a certain project.

Lighting as emotion – atmosphere & scenography

The way we perceive space is influenced by the placement of interior lights.

The classic solutions for interior lighting use a light fixture located in the center of the room or are based on uniform network-type lighting, and do not enhance the interior. These types of interior lighting solutions are not tailored to the different types of activities that can take place that space. For example, you may need spot lighting in a corner for reading or you may want to highlight a particular texture on a wall. This is how we know that interior lighting can generate a certain emotion and a special atmosphere when properly executed by specialists.

With the help of appropriate lighting, a space that is not very high can appear larger. Also, the feeling of a "cozy", warm atmosphere is obtained both with the help of furniture, and by using lighting that highlights the chosen materials, the colors, the textured surfaces, the wood, the finishes, etc.

Lighting architect specialization, lighting designer A separate specialization has developed in other countries: lighting architect, the lighting designer who works together with the architect and the client to create the imagined atmosphere. For example, Germany has a master's degree in this field. Romania is also taking quick steps towards this, and, even though higher education studies are not adapted to new trends, there are certain architects who have specialized in this field and can provide the client with the most suitable interior lighting solutions. Studio ae has worked with specialized designers on several retail projects to ensure the best solutions in those respective cases. An example is the Gusturi romanești store, for which lighting was carefully studied.

The perception of light in interior design

When we think of lighting, we first imagine the ceilings, however, the walls and the vertical surface also take up a lot of the perceived area.

• The weight of vertical surfaces

Illuminating the walls influences the perception of interior space and takes up a lot of the visual field. The walls can be "washed" by light and can become more impressive.

Textures, exposed paintings, sculptures, finishes, etc. can all be accentuated with the help of clever lighting solutions. It is also possible to design niches and slits for hidden light sources that create the impression of natural light and more space.

• The game of shadows

Shadows and how they play in the surrounding areas are also a part of how we perceive light. It is important not to be afraid of using the shadow of the light. It can be used to create different dynamics, for scenography, and to create a more lively and dramatic space. The layout of the light allows us to play with and obtain different shades of the same color, therefore not needing to use several types of wall paint. The scenography of a theater play explores a lot of the valences of artificial light.

• The shape of light

LED technology has allowed us to use different shapes, colors, intensities, and transitions when working with light, therefore also obtaining shadows or sharper edges. Interior light can become architectural in a way that only natural light was able to do. Interior lighting becomes an academic game in the hands of a talented interior designer.

• Interior lighting planning – tips & tricks

Creating a lighting concept requires a holistic approach. It starts with determining how the space will be used, the types of activities that will be carried out therein, the level of flexibility, the desired atmosphere, and the areas to emphasize. For example, in the case of a hospital, different lighting solutions will be used for the operating room, the waiting room, and the office areas. The lighting of a meeting room differs from that of a lounge area.

Overlapping the lighting plan with the furniture plan is essential

The different scenarios in which a certain space will be used can be taken into account as early as the project phase and the color and intensity of the lighting can be changed accordingly. The amphitheater of a university will have instances in which it will be used for viewing materials via a projector, therefore requiring a lower light intensity, however, the same amphitheater will also serve as an examination area, where students will require more lighting to keep them in an active state.  

Adjusting light with the help of the DALI system

The adjustment of the interior lighting according to the natural light entering a space can be achieved with the help of DALI-type systems.

An interior with a skylight that allows zenithal light to enter the space does not require artificial light throughout the day. The DALI system automatically adjusts the required intensity. It is important to keep in mind that the use of the DALI system is chosen from the very beginning because this solution will require more wiring compared to a regular system and the installation engineer needs to be aware of this information for correct sizing.

Occhio has also developed products and systems that can be connected wirelessly via Bluetooth and controlled by using a smartphone or tablet. These allow the user to dim the light and use different predefined lighting scenarios for the same space: presets for work, meetings, or relaxation (

Additionally, modular products allow the user to achieve different effects with the same light source by changing the type of lens. Thus, the same light source can illuminate up and down at adjustable intensities, the height of the modules, the shape of the light, and its angle can all be adjusted. The possibilities are fascinating.

It is amazing that by using the less is more principle we can achieve different effects by using the same type of lighting fixture in several areas of the same interior space. Occhio is an example of how we can use a single object, a single architectural gesture that creates several scenarios, and with the help of which light becomes a spectacle. Light is an intangible element that has the power to instill emotion.

Modular solutions are a means by which much-needed flexibility is ensured both in the present and in the future. Light sources positioned on rails offer the advantage of being able to glide and change as needed. An open space can function as a teamwork area during the day and be used to host a party in the evening. The Project 1 showroom is an outstanding example in this sense.

Health and indoor lighting

Recent studies and experiments show a direct link between the quality of lighting and health. In Norway, a study carried out in a hospital used lighting solutions that change automatically over a day, according to the evolution of natural light from morning to sunset. The study revealed that the patients had a faster recovery time and benefited from lighting that automatically mimics natural light.

Incorrect interior lighting is tiring

Incorrect lighting (too dim or too bright) is very noticeable to us because it is tiring and can affect our mental health. Today, some products automatically change the level and type of light and correlate it to the types of activities taking place in that space – they have an adjustable intensity to range from warm to cold light and sensors that allow them to close or open automatically. Never in human history were we able to play with light to such an extensive degree.

Examples by Occhio | the concept of design & personalized lighting

Each space has its particularities and activities that take place within it as well as certain values ​​it wants to convey. The adaptation and customization of architectural lighting solutions play an essential role in the overall atmosphere and for the users.


Light has always fascinated us.

The Project 1 showroom in Bucharest manages to exemplify the adaptability, flexibility, and outstanding design of Occhio products.

Indoor lighting influences our well-being and even our health. When performed incorrectly, we feel that something is off within that certain space, without knowing exactly why. On the other hand, when we like a certain space, this is more than likely due to its interior lighting, which, although often discreet, will efficiently achieve its purpose.

In conclusion, lighting has evolved remarkably in less than 150 years. From Edison’s incandescent bulb to LED lighting that automatically adjusts and can be controlled using a smartphone.

The future will bring even more possibilities for exploration and play through and with light.

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