Lighting Design Interview – XTX Mirror

September 13, 2018

This week’s blog features incredible lighting design by Konstantinos Mavromichalis as we take a look at his recent XTX Mirror project.

Welcome to The Halo Group blog, please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your recent XTX Mirror project. 

I’m Konstantinos Mavromichalis, part of the multidisciplinary design firm Urban Visuals based in Toronto and London UK. I was recently commissioned by Andrew Martin LTD to create an installation that would enhance a corridor space at the XTX Markets new suite of offices in Kings Cross London.

How long did this piece take to construct and what were its biggest challenges?

This project took 6 weeks and the most challenging parts involved the pre-visualisation of the reflections and finding the right patterns that would work with the space. Also, the depth of the reflected patterns within the piece is relative to where the installation is physically situated. The piece had to have the right depth for the space and the pattern incorporate existing light reflections that are a result of the daylight coming in through the windows.

Tell us about the materials and construction methods that you used. 

The primary materials were partially mirrored glass, mirror, wood and aluminium. The construction methods were quite traditional, and some CNC cutting was used to create the illuminated radial pattern.

Your latest installation features geometric forms and plays on the psychology of perception. How did you come to this design and what influences were behind its creation?

In this case the interest and ambition are quite abstract and formal, I am exploring the visual effect of parallax motion, how simple lines can create a sense of movement and depth and transforming graphic lines into light. The sensation of depth in architectural spaces is really interesting to me.

At the photoshoot for this blog we noticed you had achieved a gold coloured lighting effect using the RGB additive colour model. It really caught our eye, how difficult was this to create?

The gold colour was something that came out in the fine tuning of the touch reactive part of the piece and it works very well with the in-situ lighting. It was important to achieve a colouring to the light that does not conjure the ‘LED’ look.

Technology plays a big part in what you do. Tell us a little about the tech you have incorporated into this piece?

One of the most important things to me about the tech is that it does not use a computer of any kind, instead, I use a customisable circuit that is programmed specifically, for the system. Each individual LED is addressable and all together they display animated patterns that are driven by a generative algorithm. Added to this are other patterns which can be triggered by touching the surface of the piece.

What is the most interesting piece of technology you have used in your previous designs?

Fabrication robots are probably the most interesting since they can work very directly from CAD drawings which makes the whole process of making a piece more digitally driven. For me this means you can work more directly from digitised images or geometry that is generated on a computer.

What, in your opinion are the big trends in lighting design and which technologies will drive it in the near future?

Any trends in technology which allow for lighting control to become more physical and tactile for users, touch surfaces, controlling lights with gestures, automated lighting and so on. I also like any trends toward merging light more literally with architectural details, the increasingly small form factor of light fixtures is making this possible.

How would you describe your work? Would you define yourself as a lighting designer, visual artist or another definition?

I see myself mainly as a lighting designer as each piece explores the relationship between architecture and the sense of space that it creates. But I approach my work as a visual artist, by observation, thought and experimenting with a medium. For me design is actually more open ended, you can allow very artistic ideas to influence very functional everyday situations.

Since the early twentieth century artists have been incorporating movement into art exploring themes such as vision, colour & perception. With reference to your latest installation, which has similar parallels, how important are these themes in your work?

Very important, I try to use light, motion, and form to make us aware of our perception and how it relates to our experience of architectural spaces. I am a student of the Phenomenology of Perception, this has influenced me to use light to emphasise all kinds of activity in our surrounding that we have learned to cancel out.

Light is a really powerful medium which has deep roots in human psychology. Some people suffer from seasonal affective disorder for example and we have recently been reading about Circadian rhythms – the physical, mental, and behavioural changes that follow a daily cycle. They respond primarily to light and darkness in an organism’s environment. What’s your view on the science behind the appeal of lighting design and do you think any of these principles have an effect on your audiences?

In my work with Urban Visuals we primarily focus on ways our installations can bring the presence of nature and its rhythms into the urban environment. Our recent project entitled Ebb and Flow translates the level of the nearby tide onto a 30 storey building adjacent to a transport hub.

You do a lot of travelling for your profession, what’s your favourite on the road moment?

It was at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show when the entire team for the pop up I designed had to share two hotel rooms by the airport, hilarity ensued.

Is there anywhere you would like to showcase your work which you haven’t?

Many many places, but Luminale in Frankfurt and Ars Electronica in Linz are two specific places on my wish list.

Which lighting designers inspire you and why?

They are both light artists, however, but Olafur Eliason and Leo Villareal. Also, I was very influenced by someone called Dustin Pina, he was the lighting designer for all the New York City nightclubs in the 1990’s and I worked with him a few times in the early naughties, he was very inspiring.

Do you have any interesting projects in the pipeline you can tell us about?

One I am excited about is an installation which is an homage to the Limelight Nightclub which existed in New York in the 1990’s and it will be called ‘Shrinelight’.

Thanks so much for your time Konstantinos. As always its been a pleasure. We look forward to hearing about the next project in The Halo Group blog.

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