Professional interior designers are expertly trained in the use of lighting features to create breathtaking results. In this four-part series which I call “Colour Me Brightly: Understanding Light in Interior Design,” I draw on my experience in London’s interior design community to explain this fascinating subject. This second article talks about how to create patterns using illuminated materials.
Any perforated textile, when lit from the back or from the inside, will speckle adjacent forms with pattern, from point strips and pirouettes to constellations and dazzling laser specks. The professional interior designer can use the trim of a window covering to create fabulous banding across a shiny floor covering in the London summer. Some interior design firms love to use ornamental metal lanterns to paint fiery asteroids on walls and furniture, while light projected through a sculpted screen can create magnificent abstract outlines in expressive contemporary interior design schemes. A factory-inspired metal stairwell with perforated treads – of the type often reinterpreted for ultra-modern interior design schemes – can throw tiny checkmarks of light onto local furniture when exposed to a bright London sky in springtime. A fabulous option with a wooden staircase would require the interior designer to specify a grit-washed tread, to deliberately throw stunning shadows from the rail onto the adjacent wall. Abstract wire-mesh sculptures by local London artists can engender powerful interior design emotions, with the pattern even becoming more important than the object itself! Interior designers can expressively use perspective to distort the pattern from complete realism, when lit front-on, to Baconesque abstract enchantment when illuminated at an acute angle. The same effect can be created by using mirrors to refocus natural light from bay windows in some of the more luxurious London residences.
Glass is another popular tool for patterns. A frosted glass table can be lit from above with a halogen downlighter to cast intricate outlines of reflected light onto the ceiling, and the interior designer can even use positioning to cause refracted light to splash abstract patterns onto the floor underneath the table. I have seen some London Interior Design consultancies deliberately illuminate trophy-style glassware on display shelves from the front so that the etching on the glass throws deep shadows that recapitulate a core design theme.
In the next (third) article in this series called “Colour Me Brightly!” I will reveal another secret of London’s interior design community: how to create patterns with opaque objects.