Photo by Benjamin Williamson
Q: What are “dark sky friendly” exterior fixtures?
A: Sounds like an oxymoron, right? Outdoor lamps are there to illuminate the darkness, helping us move around safely. But in so doing, many also allow light to escape into the night sky, a phenomenon known as light pollution that masks our view of the stars. In fact, an international group of scientists recently determined that the Milky Way is invisible to more than one-third of the world’s population, including nearly 80 percent of North Americans. Light pollution also contributes to energy waste, disrupts many ecological processes, particularly for nocturnal animals, and can have a negative impact on human health, interrupting sleep and causing headaches, stress, and anxiety.
In 2008, Bar Harbor — home to Acadia National Park, one of the most blissfully dark places on the eastern seaboard — passed an ordinance regulating outdoor lighting on all new construction in town. To comply, fixtures over 1,800 lumens must be “dark sky friendly” — i.e., have casings or canopies that shield the bulbs, preventing them from being seen from above. Other cities and towns, including Portland, have their own ordinance requirements for lighting; check with your municipality to find out what the rules are.
No matter where you live, I recommend choosing warm (no more than 3,000 Kelvin), dimmable LED downlights, like those described above, to curb light pollution, reduce glare, and create a soothing — versus blinding — outdoor environment. Remember also that you don’t need many fixtures to make an impact outside; learn about my less-is-more approach to landscape lighting here.
As for dark sky-compliant fixtures, these picks will adequately illuminate your home and yard and facilitate stargazing.
Cover Photo: On Acadia National Park’s Schoodic Peninsula, Down East’s director of photography, Benjamin Williamson, captured the Milky Way and bioluminescence in the water.
What follows is a reprint of an article about Euroluce, Europe’s amazing lighting show.
|Laura Van Zeyl
By Laura Van Zeyl
Euroluce made its bi-annual appearance in Milan last week as part of the annual Salone Internazionale del Mobile furniture fair at Fiera Milano Rho just outside Italy’s fashion capital. A staggering 320,000 attendees take part — that’s more than twice the attendance at the Consumer Electronics Show, just to put it in perspective.
The crowds boost the excitement and energy level at an event that’s already elevated in terms of its elaborate booth displays. These stunning temporary presentations often feel like art installations that celebrate design for its own sake — and the designers behind the creations.
With such abundant originality in each booth, it’s hard to discern “trends” per se, but at this year’s show, there were a few recurring themes worth noting:
Design potential of LED. This compact and increasingly practical light source is like a new toy in the hands of designers eager to explore new forms. The most common use of LED seemed to be to hide it around the perimeter of a shape and graze a surface at the center, sometimes bringing out raised designs, textures or trompe l’oeil effects of dimensionality. Only a few of the contemporary exhibitors didn’t integrate LED, speculating that retrofit bulb options would allow LED to be used if desired. But in my view, this misses the point of taking advantage of LED’s unique properties.
Mixed media. The incorporation of wood into frames of lamps and fixtures may not feel new since we’ve seen that already stateside, but it was groundbreaking for many glass manufacturers at Euroluce. When your reputation for a particular craft dates back centuries, as it does for many of these Italian exhibitors, you’re very deliberate about selecting other materials to sit alongside your masterpieces. Walnut was the most popular choice, which had the right richness to hold its own with mouth-blown glass.
Glossy or ghostly white. Gloss white finishes are another trend already present here as well, but the contours of the sculptural shapes seen at Euroluce just seemed sexier in application. Polished chrome accents were an equally sleek complement. In a more organic vein, matte and textured white finishes conveyed a purity of form in fabrics, papers and fiberglass. These looks had very little, if any, additional adornment or framing to potentially kill the ethereal mood.
Retro modern. Nostalgic silhouettes felt delightfully ironic when they housed cutting-edge LED technology. Classic Midcentury Modern styles were exaggerated to emphasize the reference but also indicate that it was only a jumping-off point to take us into the future. The retro vibe was present in display as well as in design, from LZF’s Blue Note-inspired album art to Ares’ homage to Studio 54.
I thought you might be interested in what is happening in the world of lighting. Please visit FoggLighting.com and like us on Facebook.