Last week we received a query via Twitter asking how we did the lighting in the Luce Visible Storage ▪ Study Center. This was a long-term design project that lasted from 2001 until the Center opened in 2005. At the beginning of the project, I visited other Luce Centers to explore what had been done, what worked, what could be improved. One aspect that needed to be addressed was how to light artworks displayed on shelving units—much of the artwork tended to fall in shadows since they were mostly lit from the ceiling. Some tried using glass shelving to alleviate the problem.
And so, I went on a search to find a kind of light that would evenly light each shelf, that generated minimal heat, didn’t produce UV, and could be dim enough to meet conservation standards for light sensitive artworks. It was challenging! The winner was E-lite, which is an electro-luminescent film that is attached to aluminum and powered by high-voltage electricity. You might more familiarly know it from your Timex Night-Glo watch . . . same technology. In the late ’90s, Timex no longer owned the exclusive rights to the light, so E-lite was looking for ways to re-purpose their flatlite. Once I knew I was using E-lite, my next task was to design thin shelves! Here’s how it looked before the art was installed: