“Light is communication”

Herr von Kardorff, what’s your lighting situation right now?

Volker von Kardorff (profile)
Volker von Kardorff

Von Kardorff: God. Thank God we have a lot of daylight in the office. Artificial light makes us faster tired, as the natural light colour and intensity are necessary for the inner clock are. In the morning, the natural light increases our performance, in the evening we go down when it gets darker and the light color warms up. Modern lighting concepts should therefore take these natural light patterns into account.

“Light is communication” – one sentence from you. What do you mean by that?

An example: Why does it feel different when you go to the middle class jewelry store come as to the noble jeweler? Because the whole Interior looks different, and that is not least because it is illuminated looks differently. The lighting mood speaks to you: At the noble jeweller’s you won’t find a ring for 85 euros.

The many CoWorking surfaces also work strongly with narrative light. They use it, together with other elements, to avoid looking like conventional offices. That’s communication. Communication via typologically targeted light in mood and luminaire design.

Which building can companies learn from when we talk about lighting architecture?

From modern hotels whose lobby is first reception, then breakfast room and in the evening bar or lounge. This works because a different lighting concept is available for each function. Light becomes a tool for constantly changing the room and adapting it to the current needs of guests and use.

You once said: “The future of buildings begins with lighting, the luminaire speaks and listens.” Sounds exciting, but also like Big Brother, doesn’t it?

The lamp has always “listened” to your commands: on, off, brighter, darker. Technically upgraded, it can not only illuminate the surroundings, but also observe them. It collects data and questions the meaningfulness of brightness. For example, by independently dimming itself when it becomes brighter. We delegate building control to the luminaire and let it act independently.

The next step is for the luminaire to provide more data and can react even better – for example, because it uses upstream sensors to determine when a room is in use or when the room climate has changed. This large amount of data to be generated is the reason why lighting is so central to building control. In addition, the luminaires are the densest electrical infrastructure. You will find luminaires everywhere: in the WC, in the staircase, on the façade on the street and also in squares.

Which other applications of smart lighting technology are there?

It can be a remedy against the increasing scarcity of commercial space: The cities are full. So the question is: Can I accommodate 60 instead of 40 people in one building? That saves building work. If the technology says which room is currently free or is expected to be occupied on Mondays, I can plan capacities better. Employees no longer have to walk through the corridors in search of a free meeting room.

How much more efficient can buildings be if they use intelligent lighting control?

There are areas that are more than 40 percent below their potential. The biggest lever is that intelligent lighting control makes employees more efficient – through technology support and appropriate solutions.

One of the most famous buildings on Volker von Kardorff’s list of successful light projects: The Brandenburger Gate in Berlin

How many office buildings today are already equipped with contemporary, clever or modern lighting architecture?

Hardly any. Which surprises me, because light only accounts for three to five percent of the construction sum. The additional costs of smart lighting technology increase the luminaire budget by perhaps a quarter – a small investment for the total sum of the building and the improvement in utility.

In addition to building efficiency, are there other trends that you see in office lighting architecture over the next few years?

In the fight for the best people, the quality of the working world must improve noticeably. Too few companies are taking up the challenge consistently. Fortunately, we work for ambitious clients and users who set an example and whose lighting is an indicator of this.

Mr von Kardorff, last question: For which building would you like to design the lighting?

For an autonomously driving car. As the workplace of the future, it is in a way also a kind of building – a new typology is emerging.