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No. 9: Let there be lighting

Summer 2023

Last weekend, I was driving home along the lagoon between Bolinas and Stinson Beach. Suddenly, the view was so spectacular that I pulled right over. For perhaps a minute, I wavered between soaking in the beauty and trying to capture the scene with my phone. Everywhere I turned, I saw breathtaking combinations of the sea-and-skyscape.

Some kind of reflection was coming from somewhere. I think the sun filtering through the clouds turned them pink, but was the reflection on the lagoon simply pink clouds, or the light of the sun turned pink by filtering through the clouds? Either way, it was truly an Impressionist moment. If I had left my sister’s five minutes later, the whole magical effect would have looked completely different, as the sun’s angle would have shifted. It might still have been beautiful, but perhaps not stop-worthy.

Light and lighting can be everything. We are always thinking about how interior spaces are lit. Lighting and its levels can change the mood of a room. In my photos above, the diffused light makes everything seem so expansive. I felt surrounded by the depth and richness of an immersive colorscape. When designing interiors, we can create such expansive moods, by introducing different layers and levels of lighting. We decide where to direct the light—to illuminate, to reflect, to highlight, or to soften.

When we designed the Sweetwater Music Hall, we wanted to overcome the boxiness of low ceilings and create a feeling of expansiveness. We exposed the joists and ran a border of crown moulding, providing a golden surface for reflective lighting. We introduced a coved ceiling and customized wall sconces to shine light onto the gold-flecked wallpaper. The light continues softly, spilling upward, uninterrupted by corners—like an indoor sky.

May your summer be full of expansiveness —