LET’S LEARN FROM THE GREATS
Of all the great architects we have covered in our Pioneers series, this month’s subject,
Alvar Aalto, is an especial hero of the Lighting magazine team. Maybe it was his Finnish
sensibilities, maybe it was his love of nature, maybe it was the architectural training of the
time. Maybe it was a combination of all three, but Aalto ‘got’ lighting.
He instinctively understood its role in buildings and considered it vital to a successful
project. He managed to successfully translate, in various forms, lighting’s contribution to
our natural world into our built environment. It was always at the heart of what he did.
And not unlike previous Pioneers such as Poul Henningsen and Edison Avery Price,
he went as far as designing his own luminaires and furniture. His belief in design as a
Gesamtkunstwerk, a total work of art, was absolute. I can’t imagine an architect of the
current era designing a light fitting for pleasure in his or her spare time because they’re
unsatisfied with what’s on the market.
Would Aalto be held in such high esteem were light not such a key component of his art?
I doubt it.
Previous generations of architects didn’t see a divide between form, artificial light and
daylight. But over the last few decades, that intrinsic link between architecture and light
has been broken as we entered the era of ‘specialisms’. Only now is lighting as a subject
starting to be rehabilitated and taught again in architecture schools.
We can learn immeasurably from Aalto and the other great innovators of the past. And
we can also educate each other through interdisciplinary communication – ie talking to
each other. Indeed, there is nothing more stimulating and inspirational than to hear an
expert speak passionately about their craft.
As part of Lighting magazine’s contribution to this debate and dialogue, we are instigating
the Masters of Light series of webcasts, which will take place fortnightly during 2016. This
will be an opportunity for all of us to gain insights from world-leading practitioners in
light. Some of the most incisive minds, including innovative lighting designers, artists and
architects, will discuss their pioneering work and explain their methods and philosophy
in special hour-long retrospectives hosted by Lighting magazine editors. You can even put
your questions and join in the discussion. And best of all, these fortnightly webcasts are
free to view: simply register at www.lighting.co.uk/mastersoflight to participate.
We will also be hosting a series of live events with inspirational speakers in association
with our partners, as well as curating a full programme of speakers and discussion
about lighting in buildings at the lightspace events in Abu Dhabi in April and London in
November. And it’s all free, so please get involved, join the debate, and let’s start to break
down some of the barriers that have been built up in recent decades.
Ray Molony, Editor
17 COMMENT LIGHTING MAGAZINE
LIGHTING • DECEMBER2015
ING LIGHT ING