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Interview with Ukrainian lighting artist Mykola Kabluka

Interior lighting design: what it is, how to work with it, and how to integrate visual trends into your projects?

Ukrainian lighting artist Mykola Kabluka talks with InteriorDaily about interior lighting design: what it is, how to work with it, and how to integrate visual trends into your projects. 'A successful interior is a well-coordinated system of all project components. A balance of shapes, textures, proportions, and functionality will provide an interesting interior solution. Interesting, but not complete. These four components are important, but they are not enough for a complete result and synergy of all elements,' he says.

'There is one more aspect that can ruin the best project and improve a mediocre one: light. Working with lighting is a mixture of science and art, specific technologies, and a creative approach to the tasks facing the designer. The artistic use of light in interior design is the main focus of my work as a lighting artist and the main principle that we adhere to, as a team in the Ukrainian studio Kabluka Light & Digital Sculptures, which works with local and foreign projects.'

Mykola Kabluka.

The basics of lighting design
Lighting design is the work of light with matter, the use of optical effects, and the integration of digital technologies such as projection, laser technology, holographic elements, and work with big data. It is an integrated approach to the project, a careful reflection on every shadow, every ray. This is another way to convey the desired meanings, to create a certain atmosphere in a room, whether it's an institution or a living room in an apartment.

'Light is a prism through which we perceive the interior, its emotional colouring. When we work with lighting, we first of all create a certain impression in the audience by setting up light scenarios, accents, balances, brightness. It's really magic, it's poetry, the perception of which changes depending on the interpretation. Similarly, in the interior, lighting design may not emphasise the architecture and interior, or vice versa, it may bring it out and make it more interesting,' Mykola says.

Back to the basics
'When working with light, it's important to go back to the basics. Lighting is a primary tool, literally given by nature. Working with natural materials requires the most authentic approach. In our projects, we use methods from ancient times, from theatre art, and successfully combine them with new technologies,' he says. Some of the principles of their work include playing with contrasts and light scenarios. 'Transforming the interior into different modes, for example, from a restaurant to a club bar, from an art gallery to an event space.'

The Buddha Bar in New York.

'Working with light requires constant innovation. When our team starts working on the technological component of a project, we do not tolerate any restrictions. The courage of a lighting artist to create a technology for a specific request allows us to remain flexible, creative, and unlimited in our creative manifestations. In our latest interior projects, we use laser projections, 3D mapping, and a combination of complex projections and three-dimensional forms.'

'The Buddha Bar project in New York is a good example. Together with interior designers Yod Design, we came up with the idea to install a Buddha sculpture. To do this, we created a huge glass figure, about 5 meters high, and covered it with laser projection. Three projectors created a hologram effect, as if the sculpture was filled with smoke and light particles, and the water shimmers with changing directions of gravity. This is how it became an artistic part of the interior, which looks like a block of glass for nine minutes, and then a holographic effect appears for ten minutes. We arranged the light in the room so that the Buddha does not dominate the space, but is an accent that attracts attention.'

Immersion trend
Like any field, artistic work with light adopts certain visual and technological trends. The hottest trend in lighting design according to Mykola is immersion. Immersiveness in design is its ability to immerse the viewer in a certain experience, a state, and to do it as deeply as possible.

'We perceive the world through digital media: smartphones, tablets, large screens. Weaving digital and optical technologies into spaces is already a necessity therefore, immersive methods are increasingly penetrating traditional interior solutions. Huge projections that integrate into the project and complement the physical space; modern screens that mimic the shape; effects of certain weather, holographic clouds.'

'Immersion is complemented by sound technologies and digital interactives. All these effects bring to the physical world everything that we are used to seeing only through digital media. This is a creative combination of technologies that were recently used only in show business, at concerts of world famous stars. Now we are inventing and adapting them to restaurants and offices to reflect the brand's DNA and vision,' Mykola adds.

The studio always approaches challenges with the intention of coming up with something new, an interpretation or a solution. One such project is a large restaurant that is being transformed into a club in Istanbul. 'There we created an artificial sky with special profile modules that were crafted from aluminium. They are assembled in a matrix, imitating the layering of clouds. We made holes between the clouds through which "sunlight" breaks through and we can see these rays through a light haze. We also developed special technologies to change the weather and time of day - day, night, cloudy, stormy skies. Lasers and smoke at certain moments create the illusion of lightning and thunder. For complete immersion, the largest wall is covered with immersive projectors that recreate the state of the sky - an endless view of the sea with the weather above the sea surface,' he says.

The club in Istanbul.

About the studio
The Kabluka Light & Digital Sculptures brand was created on the basis of Expolight, an award-winning Ukrainian lighting design studio. KLDS is engaged in art projects, uses modern media technologies in an unconventional way to create unique light installations in Ukraine and abroad. Expolight studio projects have become multiple winners of various international competitions: LIT Lighting Design Awards, IES Illumination Awards, Dezeen Awards and many others.

More information:
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