The concept of light

A month ago I found myself strutting around in hot Stockholm afternoon; all the Swedes seemed to be embracing the sun while I was running amok seeking refuge from the closest star of the solar system.

I ended up in Nordisk Museet in Djurgården and it turned out to be a great learning experience. Apart from learning about the Sápmi tribe, Eva chair, August Strindberg’s life apart from Miss Julie I had elaborate and thoughtful reflections on the importance of light in human life. The gallery, Nordic lights, focused on the idea how Scandinavians have mastered the concept and art of light as they live in two extremes – in summers they are drenched with sun while in winters they have sun only as a theoretical concept. The idea is not only to see clearly but also create a cozy atmosphere around you in the room and derive pleasure out of it. How to strive for Lagom while lighting your home given too much light can cause light pollution and too less will make you grope for things. The daylight is considered the benchmark in achieving this balance and thus started the human adventure for optical quest.


How lights have changed the world we see around us!

I was particularly interested in all the optics related ideas given I strive for minimalism and want to modulate the light around me so it doesn’t cause eye pain and provides ample amount for me to read, execute tasks, and have hygge as well.

It is interesting why Scandinavians mastered the art of lighting. Back in 1930s, Sweden and Finland were host to a few most densely populated cities in the western world which gave rise to the concept of Folkhemmet( Swedish welfare state) and small apartments. The obvious corollary was to obviate anything that is too large and awkward. The design of furniture and light has to be functional. Understand what is the need and then shape the object. Soon the artists joined the crusade so everyone can enjoy the designs at much cheaper price;  artistic expression focused on functionalism thus giving rise to modernism. The gallery focused on how we evolved from the fireplace to PH lamps. (Paul Henningsen).


The design principle ( a visit to Nordic museum in Seattle)

One important  principle to remember while choosing the light is the temperature that it works on. Warm light – temperature 2700 to 3500 Kelvin (yellow in color) and cold light – 3500 to 5000 Kelvin (Blue white/white in color), candlelight 1850 Kelvin. Most hygge temp e.g. sunset, candle light, and campfires is ~ 1800 Kelvin. (Kelvin is the standard unit to measure temperature and 273.15 Kelvin = 0 Celsius)

The question that we should ask while thinking about the functional lighting is what happens in the space? Is it for reading and writing or to accentuate focus on something. That’s how the functional lighting works.

Too much light and one would start feeling being interrogated in the room thus staying away from ceiling light that creates an industrial ambience is a good idea; unless it comes with a dimmer so you can modulate the brightness. Too much light can kill the hygge of the room.

One interesting concept is the use of several light sources and the localized lighting( concentrate on lighting areas of the room than entire room).

I have experienced that too much light cause discomfort in the room and even a small light source works if the room isn’t used for working. For general lighting we can use large arched lamps, small chandeliers, or overhead lights to create localized and focused lighting. Hanging central lights provide focused and softer light. There are many lamps that diffuse light through origami structure to create multiple focal points and many geometric lamps that help develop patterned light across the room.

For those who read and write, having arched floor lamps with cool white light is apt while to highlight certain spaces one should think of accentuating using low level table lamps.

Apart from focusing on the concept of light one should focus on the color palette of the room as well. Low key color palette with use of white and grey on the walls helps light to bounce.

These are the basic principles that one should start playing around with while thinking of light around them, there isn’t any one stop solution as the light is a subjective concept. Thankfully we live in an industrial world with enough options to cater to our needs.


Nordisk Museet – How functionalism dominates the design process; PH lamp on display.







Scandinavia Trip – How it Started


I was absent from the blogging world for quite a while but this brief trip of mine to Europe has given me a good reason to return and punch the keys of my keyboard.

I was literally frustrated; The big apple is great but if your mind ain’t in the right zone then nothing is. Things were seeming static and the monotony of mundane life was eating me like rust on a boat. Few days ago a friend of mine gave me a visa invitation to Schengen area. I applied for the visa but I wasn’t very sure whether I would be taking the trip. I gathered all the required documents ,bought a travel insurance for some arbitrary period that costed me only $6,went to website of KLM to get a trip itinerary and then went to embassy of Denmark to get my visa. I think I received an email from the VFS office that my passport is ready for collection in 3 day period only. Next day, I went to collect my passport and saw that I was issued a 2 month’s visa. Till then I had no plan to go there and my focus was on few other aspects of life.

8th July’2015 Monday, 7:45 pm I am sitting in my office and trying to work on some problem. After few unsuccessful attempts I got up to take a stroll in the office itself. I looked down from high rise office building in midtown Manhattan, it was the usual sight. People running for one reason or the other. Man ! I need a break otherwise I will go mad, I thought. I packed my bag and left the office. One train ride away from home I stationed myself at Budapest cafe on 2nd avenue that has free wi fi. Why do I need wi fi ? Because few days ago I changed my phone plan and took the most simple one which is akin to pay as you go. It was a step towards detoxification and also the result of the thought that why to remain connected all the time when no one even calls/text. I surfed the web till it was closing time which is 10 pm with the thought of getting away for few days. I dragged myself to my apartment and changed to world’s most comfortable outfit aka shorts and t shirts.

The friend of mine had been calling me for a visit for a long time now but I always chickened out for Copenhagen never appealed me. But today I was in rebellious mood and frantically searching for airline tickets. Kayak, expedia, priceline and even were searched for. Most of them were expensive for me; I can have a return trip to India in that amount. Slowly my concentration started giving way to other distractions and I closed the flap of my computer and cooked fried rice and ate it with potbelly peppers, drank a lot of water and went to bed. Next morning 7 am I had an office call(those who work with teams in multiple geography will understand it) I woke myself up with great difficulty and attended the call in which I was a mute listener. I would digress a little bit here, waking up in the morning is a pain and I have never understood what supernatural powers are responsible for waking people up from their beds. I am a light sleeper and didn’t have much problem in the past but now its like a ‘task’ to me. I have tried many alarms but nothing works. Someone suggested to try the Math alarm but the questions are too easy and I was able to solve them with eyes half open. Even the bar code scanner for the toothpaste didn’t work. It shows that where there is a will there is a way 😀

Anyway, the feeling of helplessness returned when the call finished. After morning ablutions, I ate my cereal and started for office.On my way to subway, I stopped at Budapest cafe ,looked at it for few seconds and resumed my journey to 86th street and Lexington avenue to catch 4 or 5 to midtown. After walking 100 meter I turned around and went to the cafe, looked at the menu and ordered an authentic Strudel. I placed myself on one of the table, removed my coat and opened up my laptop. 3 clicks later I was at which redirected me to; I found that Norwegian has the cheapest flight to western Europe at a cost that it won’t provide any food, any blanket or pillow but it was a direct flight of only 8.5 hours. I took out my credit card and after few clicks I received a mail stating ” Booking confirmation Norwegian Air Shuttle: 7*****”  and that’s how it all started. I was going to explore Scandinavia although brief visit it would be but I was happy that I took a decision.