SOURCE: The Telegraph Luxury
Ideaworks Experience Centre and CoeLux are featured on the Telegraph Luxury page.
“the world’s leading lighting brand has turned artificial sunlight into a veritable (and very realistic) work of art”
An innovative new venture by the world’s leading lighting brand has turned artificial sunlight into a veritable (and very realistic) work of art
A gloomy December evening in a decidedly rainy London. The top end of Great Portland Street looks positively Sherlockian. The mind accepts the darkness, and it’s evident even inside a well-lit showroom for custom installation and home automation that night has fallen. How so? Artificial light is just that: artificial. You don’t have to be a cameraman or painter to know the difference.
We go downstairs in the Ideaworks offices, ostensibly for a demonstration of Dolby’s latest surround sound technology. I pay no attention to another room. I assume it’s a floor-to-ceiling Hockney, one of those paintings of his, like “A Bigger Splash”, that make you wish you lived in L.A. – only it was three-dimensional. Not a hologram, nor a projection, but a real table, a real chair. And what looked like real sunlight. At 7pm in London, in December. Yeah, right.
Ideaworks’ founder and Managing Director, Kevin Andrews, is a lighting maven, an early adopter of low-voltage lighting, automated scenes, Lutron and Crestron hardware – he regards illumination the way an audiophile deals with hi-fi equipment. He laughs as I attempt to lift my jaw from the floor.
Above the scene, for all intents and purposes, is a skylight, maybe a meter by a meter-and-a-half. Within and above it is a glowing orb which, if it’s not the sun, is doing a reasonable facsimile of Ol’ Sol. I will later learn that the illuminating effect is identical. The only difference is that, for the time being, it stays in one place and does not traverse an imaginary sky. It is a sophisticated lamp that just happens to think it’s the sun.
This is no case of merely pretending that one is outside, as in vast, open areas in Las Vegas casinos where huge trompe l’oeil ceilings and self-dimming lights suggest that one is in Venice or Caesar’s Rome, with real-time lighting changes. In those situations, you still know that you’re watching a glorified lightshow. This is CoeLux‘s lighting system, a gloom dissipater and installation that’s initially as disconcerting as suddenly being turned upside down. It’s like walking into another dimension.
It is not a sunlamp. You will not tan, and I doubt your photo-chromatic glasses will dim. But your brain will incontrovertibly believe that you are in a room in Portofino in August, or Miami in September. And your brain quickly tells you how this has a gazillion possibilities and applications, like changing the atmosphere in that games room you installed in your basement, the one you don’t spend as much time in as you thought you would because there’s something amiss. And that something is sunlight.
CoeLux is described succinctly as “an optical system that recreates the sun and the sky in spaces that would otherwise be devoid of light. Funded by the European Union (at last, something worthwhile from that meddlesome body), it was developed by physicist and CEO/Founder of CoeLux Srl Professor Paolo Di Trapani. It began as a research project and Trapani’s “obsession with the visual effect of the sun and the sky, and a dedication to the notion that we are not built to live in dark boxes.”
CoeLux Srl is a spin-off of Insubria University at Como, Italy, headquartered in ComoNext Technology Park, a site created by the Como Chamber of Commerce to encourage the growth and competitiveness of local businesses with high tech potential. Di Trapani and his team worked on the lighting project for more than a decade, finally succeeding in recreating an accurate and convincing visual appearance of the sun and the sky.
This is no mere light bulb: the team employed “varying densities of nanotechnology to scatter light from an LED light source.” For the scientific types among you, CoeLux demonstrates “the effect of Rayleigh scattering in the space of one metre, creating the illusion that the ‘sun’ is suspended in a pure blue sky.”
Andrews immediately saw vast potential for the system, just as Steve Jobs recognised the worth of 3M’s wooden mouse. Says Andrews; “The effect is so convincing, it touches all those unconscious references the human eye makes to decide if light is artificial or real. We are very excited to be the first venue to have this technology permanently installed.”
Ideaworks has since partnered with CoeLux Srl to develop a practical, commercially feasible version of the product for consumers. Awards have already started to fill the company’s reception area: In November 2014, CoeLux was crowned “Light Source Innovation of the year” at the Lux Awards – the lighting industry’s Oscars. It was also selected among the 10 Most Innovative Projects at Frankfurt Light + Build, and by the European Commission as one of the 12 Most Technologically Innovative Projects in Europe, during the Innovation Convention earlier in the year.
CoeLux is currently offered in three levels, each with a regional, or geographical cast. CoeLux 60 beams sunlight at 60 degrees to create “a dramatic slice of tropical light.” For a more equal balance of light and shade, with a Mediterranean feel, CoeLux 45 delivers a 45 degree beam. Lastly, CoeLux 30 will appeal to fans of a Nordic approach, its 30 angled beam of light more suited to a wall or window.
If you just can’t wait to experience this – and I must admit that the moments spent in that space were a blessed tonic from winter’s cold and damp and dark that penetrate to one’s bones – you need to arrange a time with Ideaworks’ London Experience Centre. It opened in 2013 to allow architects, designers and clients to savour the latest lighting, audio and visual technologies, and is the only venue with an installation outside of CoeLux’s Como laboratories.
Indoor swimming pools, commercial workspaces in need of natural light, the lower decks in yachts and all of those subterranean levels in the latest London townhouses: they’ve just been made more inviting.
SOURCE: The Telegraph Luxury