What is the key to successful lighting?

29 September 2016

With over 30 years’ experience of working with creative lighting in theatres and museums, Jan Gouiedo has extensive experience of light sources – and how they can be used to…

What is the key to successful lighting?

To create a dynamic. For me, that’s what lighting is all about, achieving a rhythm in light and dark surfaces. Everything doesn’t have to shine brightly all the time. By working with light in various weak colours, you can enhance the shadow effect on three-dimensional objects, which can be absolutely magical!

How do you view the interplay of colour and light?

First and foremost light isn’t seen, as everything is based on it having to meet something in order to transmit back to the observer – thinking light means thinking materiality. Quite simply, you get what you light up. So to highlight an object it’s important to choose the right kind of light that brings out the pigmentation.

How do you create contrasts in strong daylight?

The combination of daylight and artificial light in particular always offers tough resistance. At Ingegerd Råman’s exhibition at Nationalmuseum@Kulturhuset we were working in a room where large windows allowed the daylight to flood in. To achieve a dynamic, we used a fixed halogen light that contrasted with the cold daylight, which meant that the light in the exhibition changed its character completely as it went dark outside, which was an effect in itself! It’s a common misconception when dealing with daylight that you have to switch off the artificial light as daylight increases. Quite the opposite! That’s when you really need to follow up with artificial light to maintain the focus and colour contrast.

How do you approach a new lighting project?

It varies, but I always start with the technical resources. Usually there’s a designer or a client with an idea about their creation, that’s where I begin the assignment in terms of design.

What’s your most memorable lighting project?

Well, essentially I’m a theatrical lighting designer, so I suppose it must be a play… Major productions often have extreme set designs to get to grips with, while small ones allow you the time to fine-tune the lighting. At the tiny little studio stage in Byteatern I did the lighting for a play called “Take it Like a Man”, where I had invaluable time to follow and adjust the lighting against the actors’ rehearsals on stage.

Jan’s most recent lighting projects

  • Svenskt Tenn, exhibition entitled Närodlad Design
  • Ingegerd Råman, Nationalmuseum@Kulturhuset
  • Open Space – Mind Maps, Nationalmuseum@Kulturhuset



We are now launching the course Light Sources & Colour Reproduction on 22 November in Stockholm. Read more and sign up here!

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