2018 IALD Award Winners:
Radiance Award
German Ivory Museum
by Licht Kunst Licht

Luminaries of the lighting profession gathered at Chicago’s trendy Revel Fulton Market on 9 May to honor the winners of the 35th Annual International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) International Lighting Design Awards. Seventeen projects from eleven countries were on display – including interiors, workspaces, museums, hospitality sites, and a place of worship. This year’s winners represent some of the most innovative and inspiring work found anywhere in the world of architectural lighting design.

The highest point score winner across all categories, in addition to receiving an Award of Excellence for their project, receives the IALD Radiance Award for Excellence in Lighting Design. Licht Kunst Licht received this honor for the first time since 2011; the award was accepted in person by Stephanie Grosse-Brockhoff and Andreas Schulz, IALD, for the German Ivory Museum in Erbach, Germany.

This sleek exhibit space in Erbach, Germany houses a small but exquisite collection of ivory objects. With light designed by Licht Kunst Licht and architecture by Sichau & Walter, the design of the Germany Ivory Museum space creates a memorable contrast between exhibits and their surroundings, without distracting from the form of each piece on display.

Designers and architects learned early that no funds would be made available to refurbish the old palace where the ivory is exhibited. So they conceived of an exhibition detached from the building envelope that would “visually dissolve the space.” A pier, clad in red leather, interconnects the glass cases and provides a striking color contrast to the monochromatic objects on display.

Each display showcase is a luminous cube; the partially frosted glazing and inauspicious accentuating illumination make the figurines magically emerge from a sort of fog. Designers wanted to avoid any reflections in the glass, whether from sources inside or outside of the case. All light sources outside the showcase remain fully concealed by virtue of clever positioning or careful accessories, and all luminaires inside the display cases have a focused light distribution and a snoot.

The cabinets consist of fully glazed hoods without any corner profiles where lighting devices and wiring might be hidden. To maintain the effect demanded by the design concept, designers introduced a small profile tracing in the interior upper cabinet corner to accommodate all lighting elements, concealing cables and splices behind a blind cover. On-site testing revealed that silver anodized elements were less visible than black, so fittings and cables were adjusted and invisibly embedded into the glass miter joints.

Judges were impressed with this careful attention to detail, and one judge commented that this approach was ultimately in service of the user experience: “Controlling light spill and reflection unquestionably captures the focus of the visitor with the exhibit, rendering the envelope invisible.”

In tune with the red hue of the exhibition design, the light color of the display lighting is 3000K. The only deviance is at the base of the cases – the lower third of the glass panes is frosted and fitted with edge light integrated in the base. The diffusion transitions smoothly into clear glass. By virtue of the edge light, the frosting assumes a gentle brightness evocative of a fog. The LED ribbon is concealed in the display’s base and uses 5000K light, cooler than the object and walkway lighting. This supports the design concept, creating the impression of an icy haze from which the figurines miraculously emerge.

“Stunning,” said another judge. “A simple, yet elegant solution that reveals the textures and forms of the ivory figurines.”

To enable safe access and for the elderly and handicapped, the red-clad walkway had to be emphasized. This facilitates orientation, gives a sense of equilibrium, and provides a proverbial red thread to guide guests through the exhibit. A groove has been milled into the upper part of the inward-facing pier balustrade flank. The slanted apertures are aimed at the path at a carefully-tested angle. They house LED strip-lights fitted with black honeycomb louvers to shield the light sources even from longitudinal views. Simultaneously, they create a luminous emphasis on the center of the path and act as a guide.

“Light and materials are wielded in perfect harmony in the German Ivory Museum,” said another judge. “Incredibly exacting detailing and coordination are belied by the stunningly sleek visual.”


Erbach, Germany

Stephanie Grosse-Brockhoff
Andreas Schulz, IALD
Till Armbrüster
Felix Beier
Licht Kunst Licht AG

Peter Sichau
Patrick Tetzlaff
Sarah Pietrucha
Sichau & Walter Architekten BDA, Fulda, Germany

© Sichau & Walter Architekten BDA

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