Lots going on at unifiedspace right now but first I want to share an experience I had at the Royal Botanic Gardens with you.
Entering the Botanics in the dark is unusual enough – Edinburgh residents are accustomed to spending many hours wondering around the fabulous grounds but always during the hours of daylight so it immediately felt really special even be allowed in after dark. We were to enter via a Portal in the famous beech hedge where lighting artist Malcolm Innes and colleague Euan Winton wanted us to “leave the city behind, and begin to consider our relationship with nature”.
Galaxy of Bits
Passing twisted bark and dappled shade we found, The Galaxy of Bits, an installation representing the vast amount of scientific work that is undertaken in the Botanics.
Down at the pond, the many different environments available to flora and fauna at the Botanics are celebrated with a spectacular sweeping light show which dances across the land and the water to music created by jazz musician Haftor Medboe (who I was lucky enough to hear at the Edinburgh Jazz Festival and am now fairly obsessed by his album Places and Spaces) where it would not overly surprise you if you saw wildlife performing balletic poses.
Back on the path, normally so familiar but now strangely disorientating we are attracted by random red tubes which lie like lava leaking from the ground.
On up to Inverleith House which is transformed by William Morris inspired projections on its normally formal and sober stone facade tricking us into thinking we are now inside a great ballroom rather than outside on a cold Edinburgh night. It plays with the idea that despite wanting to shelter inside buildings, humans very often surround themselves with plant imagery on wallpaper and paintings and have ‘house plants’ in our homes as we crave that connection to nature. Inside Out, instead, brings the inside, outside.
Having had our visual feast, we leave the garden via the Pool of Serenity, a quiet, calm and truly beautiful installation.
So as our hours of daylight diminish, I think the Royal Botanic Gardens and Malcolm Innes have truly made our Winter darkness a celebration and I for one very much hope they run this magical event again next year.
For anyone who is even vaguely interested in colour and light you really must visit Lisbon. The clarity of the light is close to perfect helped of course by the Atlantic Ocean and Tagus River reflecting light back on to this elegant city.
Old crumbling surfaces steeped in history, parched in the sun and beaten by strong salty winds present the most magical array of colours.
But in the same city, visit the Expo site built in 1998 and you will see squeaky clean shiny surfaces covering imaginative office buildings and pavilions.
And if this is not enough and interiors are more your thing, you will not be disappointed by the imaginative and often cutting edge designs gracing the city’s food havens – more about that in my next post….
It’s always good to think about contrasts when you are designing a room. I have looked at textural contrasts in previous blogs and there are also many colour contrasts to think about such as light-dark contrast, chromatic-achromatic contrasts, complimentary contrast, cold-warm contrast, intensity contrast, quantity (area) contrast and more but it’s also important to think about contrasts between light and shadow.
Linen shadows by Lucy Browne
As Frank Mahnke points out in his book, Color Communication in Architectural Space, you should avoid having extreme light and dark contrasts in a room because while your eye adapts to the extreme conditions your visual capacity is actually reduced. It is also a process that tires the iris muscle which can result in eye strain and fatigue. However, too little contrast and you will compromise the definition of the space. If you have ever been skiing when the light is poor you will know it is very difficult to pick out the three dimensional form of the slope. In poor light it is all too easy to hit a mogul by surprise and it can even be tricky to determine whether a slope is inclining or declining.
So just as harmonious colour palettes can provide a comfortable interior, try to create harmony with light and shadow – no contrast and you will create an uninspiring “flat” interior, too much contrast and you will find your eyes constantly adjusting and feeling tired. Mahnke refers to studies which show an increase in levels of productivity in rooms which have appropriate differences in light levels – definitely something to think about in your workroom.