Light sculpture of a humming bird flying above a field of red flowers inside the shopping center Mall of Scandinavia in the city of Stockholm, Sweden.
#Inspiration    26/04/2018

Custom-designed experience lighting that “speaks” to visitors

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Nelson Mandela once famously said: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

This quote is particularly relevant to us when we are creating custom-designed festive and experience lighting for clients, because in many respects, both design and lighting are communication tools and when design and lighting come together with an understanding of audience and cultural relevant, the result is a shared language that attracts and engages. For shopping centers, public spaces and cities, being able to connect with visitors through design and lighting can be the difference between 10,000 visitors and 100,000.

Design that communicates with visitors

Although many people underestimate the impact that design can have on people, design has been used as a subtle and not-so-subtle communication tool since humans started placing art, furniture, objects and vases in strategic places in their homes (or caves). Whilst classically trained designers can spend hours talking about the power of design, even the untrained pick up on the feelings and cues that a design transmits.

For example, most of us – designers or not – can walk into a shopping center or city center or public space and immediately get a “feel” for what the space represents and how it defines itself. Space, line, furniture, art and light help us to decide whether the space is “traditional” or “modern”, “innovative” or “conservative”, “family friendly” or “bright, young things only”, “luxurious” or every-day”, or a “place to linger” versus a “place to leave as quickly as possible”.

How would you classify these shopping spaces?

Lighting to create mood and attract and retain visitors

There are countless studies that show how important light is to humans, and how different lighting can affect mood, performance and behaviour. Although we like to think the findings of research into light are new, they aren’t – 2000 years ago, Hippocrates linked “disease” to a lack of light in winter, and doctors, philosophers, scientists and even playwrights have been linking mood to lighting ever since.
The right lighting draws people into a space, makes them feel safe and secure, sets mood and tone, directs attention to interest-worthy elements, and makes them stay around for longer. In spaces where retail is important, it’s useful to know that lighting can also have an emotional impact, direct visitors to key merchandise and improve sales, according to some studies.

Some examples of lighting that creates mood, attracts visitors and creates places:

Custom designed festive lighting as “language”

If design conveys ideas and values to visitors, and lighting attracts visitors, acts on mood, and keeps people in place for longer, what happens when we bring the two together into custom-designed festive and experience lighting that takes visitor demographics and local culture into account?

We believe that the result is a new “language” that communicates, connects and resonates with visitors, and we’ve turned the creation of this new language into an art form. The outcomes are different for each project, but we’ve found that by understanding our clients, the people they want to reach, and their goals, we are able to turn spaces into destinations and must-visit places, and we have examples from across the globe that shows that this design-approach to festive and experience lighting works.

Examples from across the globe


The Mall of the Emirates in Dubai wanted to create a vision of opulence that was also welcoming.

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The Gate Mall in Doha had no need for traditional trees, but rather wanted to emphasise trees local to the region, creating a culturally relevant setting that was both beautiful and inviting.

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Messepark in Vorarlberg, Austria wanted to bring some of the outdoors into their space, and 3D pine cones infused with a warm light created that natural, more traditional feeling that they wanted.

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Perth Airport wanted to welcome visitors to Australia for the Christmas season, but without snow, snowmen and European pine trees didn’t quite work. What did? Kangaroos, of course!

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In Beijing, Taikoo Li Sanlitun (formerly Sanlitun Village) shopping centre wanted to create a lighting display that would honour the Chinese New Year, engage visitors and turn their shopping center into a must-visit place. Interactive sky lanterns were the answer.

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In Barmen, Wuppertal, Germany, the municipality wanted tasteful, colourful lights for the festive season that would make it a pleasure for visitors to visit their main shopping street during the dark months of the year. Understated organic balls of light that changed colour on a timer proved to be a hit.

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Frankfurt’s MyZeil shopping center wanted striking lighting motifs that would meet visitors’ expectations of traditional festive decorations, surprise them with something new, and use themes that would engage and connect.

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In Helsinki’s Esplanadi Park, large-scale deer lit up the night, custom designed to resemble the species found in Finland.

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At South Africa’s OR Tambo airport, rhino greet visitors and giraffe frolic at the Mall of Africa.

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Nine projects, nine significantly different approaches to design and lighting and culture. Nine new “languages” that helped shopping centers, cities, airports and leisure spaces attract and communicate with visitors.

Do you want to explore how to turn your space into a place, and how to craft a new language using design, lighting and culture? See some of our past projects to get inspiration, or get in touch with us to talk about the possibilities.

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