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The Poetics of Darkness by Florencia Castro & Monica Llamas

From ancient times, the concept of Darkness has been linked to negative connotations often looked as an absolute entity opposite to light. Entangled among philosophical and scientific notions, darkness has a transcendental and unique presence in the way we understand our world. Today, our practice has stepped away from dim environments, increasing by all means the amount of light provided to achieve highly functional spaces through brightness. With this presentation, we aspire to reconcile the lighting design process with the ‘Poetics of Darkness’; by re-defining how designers might approach spatial solutions in today’s restrictive lighting environment of energy regulations.

‘The Poetics of Darkness’ proposes to question our creative process, promoting critical thinking regarding the quantity of light applied to our surrounding environment through case studies. We seek to challenge designers to approach lighting design from a new perspective by restoring the inherent link between dark and light to explore the positive impact of this approach. Expanding further, this presentation will touch base on relevant topics around darkness, including common misconceptions, negative values embedded into our language and lack of vocabulary, as well as eye adaptation thresholds and human perception.

Taking this into account, we aim to promote ‘The Poetics of Darkness’ as a creative tool for lighting design, proposing to consider darkness as a broad spectrum with multiple nuances and intensities. Our objective is to demonstrate how, by carefully crafting layers of light and dark, we can unveil spatial features through contrast, suggesting a new rhythm of appreciation that will ultimately impact the perceptual and embodied experience in architecture. Furthermore, the overall intent is to spark creative design strategies that recognize the value brought into space through the intentional use of darkness; inviting designers to consider it as a relative notion and a smart strategy that will enable stronger and more compelling narratives.

Finally, this presentation will question light level recommendations and the idea that increasing brightness and adding more luminaires equals successful environments. The higher goal, is to encourage designers to advocate for the use of darkness, to fine-tune the amount of light in a space. We look forward to reintroduce traditional tools and share new strategies for implementation. The approach of darkness as spectrum will contribute to develop balanced and successful design schemes appealing to the multi-sensorial participation of the observer. The Poetics of Darkness’ will inspire designers to be more critical and conscious about the qualitative aspects of lighting design, rethinking it from a new perspective.

Profiles & Bios

Florencia Castro
Trained as an architect, Florencia recognizes the power of light and shadow to heighten the experience of the built environment. Her approach casts lighting design as creative, yet technical challenge; a complementary practice between daylight and electric light. With experience in architecture and lighting design in Mexico and NY, today she is part of Flux Studio lighting design team in New York City, working mostly in civic, institutional, and educational projects; to maximize the harmonious integration of light and architecture. As an active member of the community, Florencia has also lead different seminars as part of the Master of Lighting Design Program at Parsons The New School for Design where she focuses on promoting dialogue and critical thinking about light. Florencia holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Universidad de las Americas Puebla [Puebla, Mexico – 2011] as well as a Master of Lighting Design degree from Parsons The New School for Design [New York, NY – 2015].

Monica Llamas
With experience in Guatemala and New York, Monica works with light to impact people’s perceptions and experience in space. As a lighting designer Monica is committed to further promote discussions about light and adjacent relevant themes to educate designers, clients and users about the relevance of our practice. For her work in this community Monica has been named one of North America’s 40 most promising up-and-coming young designers, 40Under40, by Lighting Magazine. She graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Universidad Francisco Marroquin (Guatemala, GT – 2011) and a MFA Lighting Design degree from Parsons The New School for Design (New York, NY – 2015).

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