Profiles in Excellence with Walter Spitz and The Team at Creative Designs in Lighting
The lighting designs of Walter Spitz and The Team at Creative Designs in Lighting are like the silent ninjas of a custom residential project. The light can bend and shift the ambiance of a space, making the environment come alive, but it all happens without you ever noticing its presence. The best lighting designs, according to Spitz, are those that disappear while enriching everything within the space from the architectural features and finishes of the room to the artwork, accents, and people within.
When creating such powerfully moving experiences with proper lighting, three distinct factors must be taken into consideration. The expertise of the Creative Designs in Lighting team featured in this edition of Profiles In Excellence will help shed some light on the most important factors to achieve a great lighting experience in your custom luxury residence.
Here’s what they had to say…
LIGHTING THE WAY
Lighting makes a difference in the experience you have inside a space. If you think about it, lighting can greatly affect the world around you. In retail, you may be window shopping and the overhead store lights make the color of a shirt’s fabric so vibrant you feel compelled to purchase it. Or a priceless collection of art is so elegantly lit as to enhance the work, bringing you to laughter or moving you to tears. Or you visit a custom home that incorporates automated lighting so the transition between night and day is seamless without having to flip a light switch. When lighting design is exceptionally well-integrated into a room’s design, experiences such as these happen without you even noticing. As you can see, lighting design is an art.
1. THE FUNCTION OF THE SPACE
The first factor to consider is what you are functionally aiming to achieve in a room. Are you going to read or watch TV? Are you going to cook? Do you want to look out onto an amazing view?
For example, if a couple wants to enjoy an Arizona sunset from their living room, they’re going to want to see through the glass. But if the room has a highly polished reflective floor, the lighting must be aimed so it doesn’t reflect back up especially on a polished floor, otherwise the couple will see themselves and other objects in the room through the window glass. The lighting must be angled so it lights the room without causing such reflections. Considering such details enable us to enhance the function of the room, which in this case is to enjoy an unobstructed view of Phoenix.
Another aspect of functionality that we consider when lighting a room is automation. The client’s level of technological sophistication often determines the amount of automation incorporated into the lighting design. The Entertainer and Family Fiesta are examples we designed and built with Team DSC® where we fully automated the entire residence. Whether the home owners want their children to be able to run freely between rooms or they wish to entertain and create mood lighting as their guests wander the halls, both understood how to use lighting technology to enhance the intended functionality of their homes.
2. THE MECHANICAL DYNAMICS OF THE SPACE
There are numerous spatial constraints that need to be sized up in order to make a decision on how to design the light in the room. How high is the ceiling? Is the ceiling flat? Is there a cavity?
For example, if the ceiling is 16 feet high as opposed to eight feet, it’s a very different approach, especially if we’re dealing with a guitar collection like in La Grande Maison versus a walk-in closet. Both would require two very differently designed spaces as well as different types of lighting. If the client wants to display guitars, a good architectural design option would include a high ceiling painted in black with dark walls to integrate wider spaced lighting that would make the instruments stand out. A closet, which is often an enclosed intimate space, would often incorporate lower ceilings and closer spaced lighting.
This is the point when the architect and builder like Desert Star Construction become important to the coordination of lighting design. Before they design and build a room, we need to design and document where the lighting will be placed. Once they frame the home, our lighting design team is no longer able to make further lighting decisions without costly adjustments to the overall design and build.
For example, roof truss placement is critical. If roof trusses are built right where we need to put a light, either the ceiling will need to be dropped or the roof truss must be moved. The architect and builder, let alone the client, will probably not want to drop the ceiling or move the roof truss in the middle of construction – it’s very expensive and a waste of time.
The best projects are when our team puts together a good set of documents that detail all the answers to all the questions the architectural and building team could possibly ask regarding the mechanical design and function of the room. If we accidentally leave a detail out of our documents or leave something up for interpretation, it could end up costing the client more money to correct it – we don’t want that.
This is why our team needs to be diligent in documenting everything that is discussed when a project is on the drawing board and to get answers to and from the design team as quickly as possible. Then we make ourselves available when more questions arise during construction. Once a custom home or commercial build breaks ground, that project becomes our highest priority to ensure all dimensions of the spaces within are accurate.
3. THE “WOW!” FACTOR
How can we grab the client inside the space so they say, “Wow! This space looks really beautiful”? In fact, in most cases, it’s best if they don’t notice the lighting at all. Working our way to achieve such reactions becomes an exciting process because the needs of our clients are wide and varied.
We currently have one client who wants his anteroom lit so his guests feel comfortable talking to him about important matters and so the lighting we designed for him is subtle and creates an atmosphere of comfort and warmth. We have another client who has a big personality, so we assumed he would want everything lit up like a grandstand. Instead, he wants his lighting to be very minimal, very low so the lighting is adjustable to offer both.
We are also taking part in a grand renovation project of Newark Airport where we’re lighting most of the restaurants according to the ambiance each restauranteur wants to create as guests enjoy their food. Each project needs the lighting to create a distinct experience. Every client is different. And so our designs are customized specifically to what will move and inspire our clients and their guests.
This is when it becomes important to have the right people on your team and to surround yourself with knowledgeable and experienced partners like Desert Star Construction. On diverse projects from residential to commercial, we need everyone to bring their skills and specialties to the table. This allows us to fully support one another and complete remarkable projects that our clients will love.
Creative Designs in Lighting Team Members
Mark Greenawalt (left) and Mark Mueller (right)
CREATIVE DESIGNS IN LIGHTING and TEAM DSC®
“One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned since I stopped touring with Supertramp and the Canadian Ballet and started my lighting business in Arizona in the late 70s is the importance of being a team player.
Jerry and Team DSC® are great team players. About 10 years ago, my team had an issue at one of the job sites, and I had to call Jerry pretty late at night to inform him about what had happened. He answered my call and was very kind about the situation. He sent his team first thing to help us resolve the issue.
That’s the kind of support we share with every team we have the privilege of working with. Being a team player is essential to the success of any custom residential or commercial project we endeavor.”