The most famous artists and designers often become known for one particular style or motif. When we see the cubism of Pablo Picasso or the drip paintings of Jackson Pollack, for example, we firmly link those distinctive artistic “moves” with the artists themselves. In some cases, those associations are extremely positive and add to the artist’s or designer’s mystique and prestige – certainly the case with Picasso and Pollack.
For other artists who are less famous, however, an identifiable mode of expression can lead to confinement, predictability and, in some cases, a needless limitation of vision and creative possibilities.
Since I began my career in the early 1980s, I’ve focused on capturing aquatic life forms in mixed-media sculptures to such an extent that my name is associated with the genre – although I’m certainly no Picasso. Indeed, in the years I’ve been active, there have been so many sculptures, statues and paintings depicting whales, dolphins and fish that the genre I love has become something of a cliché.
So many consumers love such images that a vast number of enterprising artists have stepped in to meet the demand. The problem is that so many of these efforts are uninspired and
From the streets of London to the forbidding environs of horror movies, fog has always been capable of stirring our imaginations. It’s the stuff clouds are made of and an enduring symbol of mystery, and it’s not too surprising that enterprising people would try to figure out how to generate and use this most elemental of atmospheric vapors as a practical tool and distinctive design element.
To start our story, let’s flash back to 1970, when the first-ever artificial-fog system made its debut at the World’s Fair in Osaka, Japan, as part of Pepsi’s revolutionary Pavilion of the Clouds.
Just a year earlier, my father, cloud expert Tom Mee, had founded Mee Industries to provide instrumentation that was to enable the government to do a better job of studying clouds and airborne pollution. I can only imagine what it was like for him to receive a call from Japanese artist Fujiko Nakaya, who asked him to develop a system that would generate a cloud to would enfold the outside of a 200-foot dome as a key element of her design for the pavilion.
Interestingly, Nakaya was the daughter of the man who had pioneered snowmaking technology, and I’ve always been intrigued that she wanted to make a
As part of my work on movies and television shows through the past dozen years, I’ve developed a range of special effects that focus specifically on fire. For the science fiction hit Men In Black, for example, I was charged with devising the flame-spewing weapons wielded by Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith in a spectacular scene in which they shoot down a flying saucer.
That system involved a range of safety issues along with devising a specially formulated fuel (alcohol mixed with various metals) to create blue flames as well as a combination of inert gases and electronic control systems that were used to extinguish the fire and protect the actors. As is the way with so much in Hollywood, an on-screen sequence that lasts just a couple of seconds took my team
When we work in public settings, the basic demand on lighting designers is for straightforward fixture layouts capable of providing enduring effects and requiring minimal ongoing attention. That doesn’t sound particularly exciting – and it’s not, unless the lighting designer uses it as a baseline and reaches above and beyond.
Parks, plazas, resorts and historical sites (among many others) are all spaces that really should come alive at night, but their lighting designs often run counter to that vitality by being so utilitarian that they spark boredom rather than energy. It’s easy to understand why this happens: Because such spaces play host to high levels of traffic and often multiple uses, they demand lighting treatments that
By Bruce Zaretsky
Those of us who are designers and builders of full-scale outdoor environments (you know who you are) face a distinct challenge: In our work for our clients, we are expected to provide the outline and details for a huge range of project elements, from watershapes and patios to plantings and walkways and more.
That list, at least so far as clients are concerned, also includes appropriate lighting, but that is not always something on which we focus. Indeed, lighting design is seen as a specialty even by those who tackle almost every other project feature – and there’s no problem with that unless
Landscape-lighting design is my obsession: Not only do I make my living at it, but it has also reached a point where it informs the way I look at every landscape and watershape I encounter – whether I’m working on those spaces or not.
When I visit almost any site – and particularly when I spot an interesting garden – I almost instantaneously begin formulating ideas about how I’d light it. That’s a good thing, because it keeps me professionally sharp, but it’s also a bit addictive: Once you start visualizing how dynamic particular places can be when properly lit, you get hooked on the mental exercise and start enjoying the intensity of the experience.
In the beginning, of course, those clear visualizations
It’s not an uncommon goal: Nearly all of the homeowners I speak with about lighting designs want to be able to move safely and comfortably around their properties at night. Perhaps more important, they want guests and others unfamiliar with those spaces to be able to do the same without anyone being concerned about suffering an injury as a result of a misstep brought on by darkness or glare.
The interesting this is, some of my clients need convincing when it comes to path or step lighting: Even if they see
Although the eye is commonly drawn to structures and other architecture elements found in any given exterior environment, very often it is trees that serve as visual anchors in modern landscapes. Indeed, they tend to be the largest objects on most properties and will often become focal points even in settings in which they might have started out in supporting roles.
This dominance or even potential for dominance is why, as a lighting designer, I believe that trees should always receive
As I see it, successful landscape lighting is a two-part process: First, the designer applies aesthetic principles that create the art, then he or she supports that artistic vision with scientific and technological savvy. One without the other doesn’t work: You can’t effectively practice the art until you’ve mastered the science.
In my 17 years as a lighting designer, I’ve encountered lots of professionals who have the artistic part of the equation down pat but fall well short when it comes to working with electricity. The plain fact is, you can use the best fixtures in the world and understand the aesthetic issues like the back of your hand, but if you can’t consistently deliver power to those fixtures at correct, reliable voltages, the overall system will not perform properly and has the potential to become a maintenance nightmare.
There’s no way a single article can bring anyone up to speed with all of the issues involved in the science lighting. Instead, my intention here is to introduce watershapers to a basic, commonsense approach to laying out low-voltage, halogen lighting systems, the goal being to enable you to converse intelligently and persuasively with lighting designers in the interest of helping
If there’s ever been such a thing as a match made in heaven, swimming pools and landscape lighting lay a strong claim to that perfection. Separately, they take little-used spaces and transform them to all-day hubs of activity and sources of constant beauty. Together, however, the magic starts, with pools and landscape lighting systems accentuating each other’s virtues in ways that are tough to quantify or adequately describe.
To landscape lighting designers and installers, pools offer a
I’m always surprised when I run into clients or prospects who don’t appreciate or fully accept the fact that landscape-lighting systems require routine maintenance. These are people who easily recognize the need for upkeep when it comes to their swimming pools or landscapes, but this perception simply doesn’t extend to the lighting systems that frequently go along with them.
I suspect this is so because dealing with lighting inside a home is so simple – basically just a matter of changing burned out bulbs as the need arises. Some also believe that landscape light bulbs should and will last forever, which is
By Matt Doolin & Paul Doolin
It’s often hard to tell exactly when you begin a career as an artist. As children, both of us loved to play with clay – but that’s been true of countless other children the world over for untold generations. And it really was just fun for us, but now when we look back on those days, we also see that, even then, we’d started on the road to our current calling.
It helped, of course, that we were raised in a family of artists. Both of our parents drew and painted, and our father, James Doolin, was respected in the art world. But it was our mother, Leslie Doolin, who started it all for us professionally when she decided to paint on tile: Eventually we joined her in what was to become
By Mike Gambino
From my perspective on the design and installation side, I see bringing landscape lighting to a property as a process that includes careful planning and execution as we compose the different scenes and lighting elements; count and select fixtures; lay out the power-distribution system; install everything properly; and, finally, fine-tune it all before turning things over to our clients.
Looking at it from the other side, it’s been my observation that clients approach these projects with an equivalent level of deliberation: Even among relatively affluent clients, landscape lighting represents a significant