introduced on a commercial scale, the opportunity
for a new approach to lighting design presented itself
and I personally went through a creative rebirth.
Over the course of the last decade, the once
ubiquitous halogen and incandescent bulbs have
given way to more efficient, functional sources of
electronically generated illumination. Though the
first iteration of LEDs were invented half a century
ago, the technology has come a long way in the
years since. These advancements in lighting science
have afforded future-forward designers in this field—
even the more decoratively inclined such as Ingo
Maurer—the unique opportunity to completely reimagine
the form, shape, materials, and utility of light.
LED technology has changed everything, propelling
us into a world where electronic illumination and
controls achieve the extraordinary. The once
unimaginable is now within reach.
I was determined to discover ways to innovatively
use the new technology to continue setting designs
apart from the rest but even the brightest of the
lighting industry have been challenged by LEDs. It
took me years to understand and be comfortable
with the science before I felt capable of adding
functional value through its use.
Many lighting designers began by retrofitting their
older designs with the new technology, slowly coming
to understand its nuances. This process also led
to the re-imagination of a number of my classic
products—including the Floating Glass Pendant, now
simply called “Float”—with LEDs. The light is now
transmitted through the clear glass disk and emitted through the edges, creating
a 360-degree ring of light that offers a more dramatic effect than its predecessor.
The goal is to do things better, that work well. Technology enables
designers to achieve that objective. Yet, we are only at the beginning of the
adventure that will take us into a new frontier of discovery and innovation.
Advancements in LED technology continue to charter forward, unleashing a
world of luminescent possibilities with each new development.
As science continues to progress, modern lighting designers have worked
diligently to push their own boundaries of innovation to achieve that perfect
balance between art and technology. Even so, we are already onto the next
big thing: integration.
Once it is commonly understood that electronically generated illumination
is a wave in the spectrum of energy, we will be able to control, direct, and
manage illumination as a component in a broad-based integrated system of
energy that can be deployed across multiple applications of a building system.
Our electronically managed information, communication, and entertainment will
include the quality, color, intensity, and mood of illumination as a synchronous
component of a smart-controlled environment.
The lighting of the future will be defined by integration—be it within the
architecture, as a component of a broader environmental management
system, or as an emotional component that can be adjusted to impact the
status of our well-being. This synthesis of LEDs with the built world around
us will become essential to how we perceive and interact with a given space.
We are moving our imagination of architecture, habitable spaces, and urban
centers into the limitless possibilities of the digital age.
We are only at the beginning of electronic illumination becoming an infinitely
diverse medium for innovation and change. Electronic illumination has the
ability to manage circadian rhythms, color tuning can be adjusted to alter moods
and perceptions of people and places, and the heat energy—uselessly
discharged—has the potential to provide wireless connectivity for our hand-held
devices. LEDs will even help grow our food and clean our air.
The future is bright, variable, and controllable with infinite variety and
unimagined possibilities to see the world and manage our environments.
Robert Sonneman, “Lighting’s Modern Master,”
pioneered contemporary lighting, making it an
art form. His award-winning creations have
been at the forefront of the design world for
almost 50 years. Since their introduction in the
1960s and ‘70s, many of Sonneman’s lighting
designs have become classics of the modern
era. As the owner and creative force behind
SONNEMAN—A Way of Light, he continues to push the boundaries of
innovation to achieve the perfect balance between art and technology.
16 interiors+sources february2018 interiorsandsources.com
The Floating Glass
Pendant (left) was
Float (above) with
the use of LEDs.