I’m inspired by many things, but I’m particularly fascinated by the quality of light – the infinite ways it can sculpt spaces, illuminate colour and throw texture into relief.
Light isn’t just an effect – it’s a vital element in architecture and critical to how a space makes us feel. My favourite architectural space has to be a forest or woodland, precisely because of the magical way that light filters through the leaves. This particular interplay between light and shade creates an environment that is both airy and open and comfortably defined and sheltered at the same time.
For me, architecture is about carrying these lessons into the built environment and carving out a series of spaces which embrace light – and shade – to maximum effect. One of the most breath-taking instances of this approach has got to be the Pantheon in Rome, Italy, in which a phenomenal space is illuminated by a single aperture in the roof.
By contrast, one of the least inspiring architectural lighting effects at the moment is the widespread use of very even artificial light – it makes everything look flat and bland. In 1933, Jun’ichiro Tanizaki wrote a fantastic treatise called In Praise of Shadows and I’d encourage all lighting engineers to read it. Maybe then we could put some of the magic back into artificial lighting.