Richard Kelly's Concept of Lighting: Focal Glow - Ambient luminescence - Play of Brilliants

Date June 07, 2017
Categories Knowledge

Richard Kelly, Lighting Designer (1910-1977). Richard Kelly illuminated some of the twentieth century’s most iconic buildings. His design strategy was surprisingly simple, but extremely successful. To this day his terminology is used to describe the conceptual background for numerous lighting solutions, particularly his concept of three distinct types of lighting : "Focal glow, ambient luminescence and play of brilliants"

A display of his works is listed below.

Focal Glow

Focal Glow is the direction of space. It helps you get around. It's the spotlight of the artist that help you focus.

In Kelly's words: "Focal glow is the follow spot on the modern stage. It is the pool of light at your favorite reading chair. It is the shaft of sunshine that warms the end of the valley. It is candlelight on the face, and a flashlight on a stair... Focal glow draws attention, pulls together diverse parts, sells merchandise, separates the important from the unimportant, helps people see.”

​Ambient Luminescence

Ambient Luminescence is without any focus. The details are dissolved. It is a comfortable light that helps us relax.

In Kelly's words: "Ambient luminescence is the uninterrupted light of a snowy morning in the open country. It is foglight at sea in a small boat, it is twilight haze on a wide river where shore and water and sky are indistinguishable. It is in any art gallery with strip-lighted walls, translucent ceiling, and white floor. Ambient light produces shadowless illumination. It minimises form and bulk.”

​Play of Brilliants

Play of Brilliants is the decoration, the icing on the cake. It's an addition to the architectural environment.

In Kelly's words: "Play of brilliants is Times Square at night. It is the eighteenth century ballroom of crystal chandeliers and many candle flames. It is sunlight on a fountain or a rippling brook. It is a cache of diamonds in an opened cave. It is the rose window of Chartres... Play of brilliants excites the optic nerves, and in turn stimulates the body and spirit, quickens the appetite, awakens curiosity, sharpens the wit...."

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