What is Light?

A Source of Magic

If we were to ask you “What is light?” what would your response be? To the person in the street it might be “Light is how we see”, to a scientist it could be “Light is a tool that we use to learn more about the world around us”, and to a parent it might be “Light is how I make my child feel safe at night”. There is no wrong answer – it’s open to interpretation and that’s what makes it so magical.

At Nulty Bespoke we go on an exciting journey with each and every custom-made lighting piece that we create; we’re particular about the materials that we use, the processes that we go through and the quality of the end result. Each fixture is a piece of art in its own right, however, it also has to be functional; the light itself has to have the right feel as well as providing enough light to see by. So we’ve been going back to basics to rediscover what light actually is, what light enables us to do and what light means to us.

So let’s consider the facts: the Oxford English Dictionary describes light as the natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible. Ancient civilisations associated light with religion or art, and as the centuries have passed our understanding has grown and physicists started to look at this invisible force scientifically. Greek scientists thought that light was a particle, yet Aristotle argued that light was actually a wave; we now know that light is BOTH an electromagnetic wave and a photon (a particle of energy).

To us light has a magical quality, invisible until it meets a surface and suddenly the intangible becomes tangible. It can change colours, textures and emotions; when used correctly it can turn a space made up of lots of separate elements into one magnificent expanse. As light can affect interior design, the interior design can affect the pieces we create, which is why collaboration is our main goal when we start on a new commission.

When designing a bespoke lighting piece for a space it’s important to understand how that space will be used, how it will look and how it should feel. Whilst the beauty of a luminaire is key, it’s essential not to get side-tracked by this alone; the quality of light that’s emitted from a luminaire is equally important. In the design process we always consider the practical elements of lighting, such as lux levels (how much light arrives on a surface), colour temperature (whether a light source appears “warm” or “cool”) and colour rendering (the ability of a light source to show the colours of objects as they should be).

With an appreciation and understanding of light, combined with that of materials and space, the possibilities for creative yet functional luminaire design are endless and exciting.