Light: the gift that keeps on giving for cities
There are many scientific studies that show just how important light is for humans. It boosts mood, allows us to see the world in full color, gives the impression of warmth or coolness, and can have positive cognitive effects on the human brain that scientists are just beginning to uncover.
Non-scientific observations of the effects of light
We’re not scientists, but every time we install a new lighting display or flip the switch to illumination a garden of light sculptures, watching people’s faces literally “light up” is proof of the positive effects of light. And we’re certainly not the only people to notice how light improves mood and atmosphere: the concept of “festive lighting” and “winter lighting” isn’t new to countries familiar with cool days and long, dark nights. Going back through the ages, our ancestors knew that light could literally be a “lifesaver” that helped people get through the winter months, physically and emotionally.
Fast-forward to the 21st century and we have a question for you. Given the overwhelmingly positive effects of light and design on humans, why do most of us tend to think of festive and atmosphere lighting as “for winter”?
Light and design: powerful throughout the year
What we’re finding here at MK Illumination is that more and more shopping centers, cities, leisure businesses, and visitor attractions are realizing that light has great potential outside the winter months, too.
Reasons vary from space to space and country to country – as they should, because each space, country, and culture has a different set of requirements – but many are relevant to similar businesses and settings across the globe.
For the next few months, we’ll be taking a look at the power of year-round light and the benefits that different sectors can enjoy, and this month, we’ll start by focusing on cities.
Year-round light in cities
The benefits of using light throughout the year are already well-known. That’s why cities have street lighting! At MK Illumination, we provide street lighting motifs, but most of our light is designed to create atmosphere and build experience. So how can this sort of approach to year-round lighting benefit a city marketing office, local businesses, residents AND visitors?
Here are three examples to get you thinking.
1. Add sparkle and interest to annual events and festivals.
In Dubrovnik, Croatia, for example, a light sculpture that spelled out “#70” promoted the event, reminded visitors of the event’s heritage, functioned as a photo point AND reminded visitors of which hashtag to use when posting images on social media.
2. Create public light art that visitors can interact with by day and that lights up the city by night
In the city of Mannheim, Germany, the market square was filled with fairy tale motifs that featured colored light and colored decorative elements that made these age-appropriate works of light art fun throughout the day, and even more fun by night! The result? More people on the streets, enjoying the city’s many delights.
3. Use light, design and light sculptures to control how visitors move through your city and make sure that all of your local streets and shops are visible along the way
In Zwolle, the Netherlands, for example, a series of strategically-placed light sculptures encouraged visitors to choose specific routes through the city.
A map of light art, along with highlighted points of interest and local advertising, made sure that visitors saw all there was to see, and thanks to the thoughtful design of the light art, each stop was an opportunity for a photo, and social media was buzzing!
Bonus idea: Use light to delight for important cultural events – or just “because”
In Dubai, UAE, a city not known for its chilly winters and dark, cold nights, light has become part of the local and visitor experience and their expectations.
Over Ramadan, city streets celebrate Islam with appropriate cultural symbols.
In summer, glorious light art appears in the streets – camels, abstract features, butterflies and hummingbirds are just some of the highlights that the city has enjoyed over the years. And it’s not just art: palm trees, fountains, and squares all get the magic touch of light, which keeps people in the city later and longer, which in turn makes local businesses, restaurants, and bars prosper.
Tangible benefits throughout the year
These are just a few of the examples of how year-round lighting, combined with design and an understanding of a city’s space, can yield tangible, measurable results.
Even better, if you already invest in festive lighting over the Christmas holiday, you’re in a great position to simply extend your lighting into January (Chinese New Year), February (Valentine’s Day or Carnival), March (celebrate spring or autumn), April (Easter)…
And these are just our examples: your city has its own heritage and events and celebrations, all of which will have more impact when combined with light.
Inspired? Want to know more?
Our teams draw on over 23 years of experience worldwide, and they use that experience and their local understanding to create the right year-round atmosphere lighting experiences for your space.
Get in touch for a chat: we’d love to explore the possibilities.