Richard Holmes of iGuzzini talks about lighting design’s role as a protagonist in architecture

Richard Holmes of iGuzzini talks about lighting design’s role as a protagonist in architecture

IGuzzini, Intelligence of Light, Lighting design, Scrovegni Chapel lighting

New cutting-edge technologies are leading ground-breaking concepts in lighting design, amid new launches by lumen companies tailored for the digital age. Light is the protagonist of a profound revolution in architecture: it motivates space, affirms, evokes, alludes and defends projects, says Richard Holmes, regional director of iGuzzini. 

As iGuzzini’s regional director of Middle East, South Caucasia and English Speaking Africa areas, Richard Holmes has overseen a diverse range of lighting projects, which have set a new benchmark for the sector, through extensive use of research, innovation and design developments. He shares his thoughts on the growing significance of lighting, and how it’s changing lives for the better.


Light, or rather, illumination, is the star of digital transformation. As technology becomes more integrated with humans, the relationship between people and their environment changes, too. The need for invisible, perfectly contextualised and focused communication is transforming experiences into individual interaction. This is being exemplified through Intelligence of Light applications. These apps use wireless, Bluetooth BLE or Li-fi solutions, not only to control light, but also to send and receive proxemics information, thereby enhancing and personalising user experience and turning it into a unique customer journey.

There is a whole new range of services based on data transmission rate, which is generated by light for the benefit of users. For example, with the use of sensors, museum visitors can obtain smart information through apps; video surveillance information can be provided in real time about traffic and parking conditions in cities; occupancy flows can be detected in workplaces, where space optimisation is vital, and retailers can interpret customer purchasing habits.

For iGuzzini, Intelligence of Light also means the capability to design increasingly miniaturised solutions, while maximising their performance.

A first, effective example is the new lighting project for the Scrovegni Chapel (pictured, opposite page) in Padua, Italy. The chapel is an absolute masterpiece of medieval art. Currently a candidate for a place in the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites, its interiors host Italian artist Giotto di Bondone’s complete series of frescoes.

The new IoT (Internet of Things) lighting system – the outcome of integration of LEDs, environmental sensors and software apps over internet protocol – ensures a full-scale “perceptual restoration” operation for the 14th century pictorial depiction.

The sensors monitor ambient light and constantly communicate with the system which, based on the input it receives, controls the light emission and colour temperature of the devices; the use of tunable white technology means the shade of white light can be adjusted as the intensity of natural light varies, ensuring the best perception of the works at all times of day.


Digital lighting owes its prominence to LED technology, which allows indoors and outdoors to be modulated and managed by control systems. In addition to implementing predefined scenarios in terms of design and function, it also allows luminous flux to be adapted in accordance with the effective application needed to meet these needs.

At iGuzzini, for example, we have innovated the usability of the system by introducing the Bluetooth (BLE)-Dali communication protocol to manage every single wireless device directly from mobile phones. We implemented this technology recently in the prestigious Royal Academy of Arts in London (pictured, opposite page), which tremendously simplified the programming and management system.


The 2017 Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology acknowledged the extraordinary importance of light on well-being. As long ago as 1988, we launched a research project based on the first photobiology study, which was initially published in the 1980s in the US, demonstrating that particular use of light helps in stimulating our senses, and above all, synchronises “biological time” with “social time”.

Adapting artificial light to the natural light cycle or, in the absence of this, faithfully reproducing its dynamism, meant developing variable light in terms of intensity and colour temperature. We have developed 30 years of biodynamic light research into systems that can be implemented in every situation, from workplaces to retail shops, museums and residential areas, as well as on an urban scale.

iGuzzini will also participate in the Double Dynamic Lighting (variation of colour temperature and intensity) project to improve people’s lives starting from a scientific study and a holistic approach to the interaction between natural and artificial light.

The lighting technology and solution partners like Tridonic, iGuzzini, Fagerhult and Zumtobel are teaming up with Aalborg University in a unique cooperation.

The study is characterised by its interdisciplinary nature and mixed methods approach: the industrial partners will contribute their practical application know-how to work hand-in-hand with the university. The study will look into how consumers can use dynamic light as a tool to support their work environment.


Modern architecture has encouraged a new topological concept characterised by spatial continuity between indoors and outdoors. Light becomes an important exponent in defining volumes and materials.  Lighting not only illuminates space, but also enhances the quality of a place. The design of light is a path of best practices, while also providing a direction. It can be used as a guide – it breaks monotony, underscores angles and curves, converts lines into vectors to indicate directions, and emphasises volumes.

Increasingly, we’re seeking spaces that are free from elements of “interference”. The first step towards accomplishing this utopian vision is miniaturisation, which is not a question of dimensions but processing skills. The technological innovation offered by latest-generation LEDs, together with research into materials, optics and applications, have enabled us to use every precious millimetre and eliminate superfluous space. So now, we have devices that can be measured with fingers, albeit high on impact with respect to colour quality, optical multiplicity, pure light beams, high uniformity and visual comfort.

iGuzzini leads the innovation pack, while retaining its core principles on service, standards and consistency

Having returned from Frankfurt a couple of months ago, I was reflecting on what it is that really differentiates us from our main competitors’ and exhibitors at Light + Building? We are a truly global organisation, there’s a strong bond among the eight directors of the iGuzzini branches worldwide, a fantastic dynamic with a “real family” feeling that allows us to share the same values and work for achieving the same goals.

Our firm commitment to building longstanding and successful relationships with partners and customers and developing territories ties in strongly with our aim to promote good quality lighting solutions that can really make a difference in people’s lives and in their social communities.

Our customer services global network, comprising top-calibre people, is the key to the successes we have achieved and reached in the years and the trust built among partners and customers. Without a strong, professional and consistent customer support system, a product’s value, even the most innovative and technologically advanced product, cannot be the same.

The recent launches and establishments of offices in Lebanon, Turkey, South Africa and Saudi Arabia are emblematic of our deep commitment to services and relations as well as the support of the local markets, with great attention to each territory’s needs and peculiarities.

A version of this article appeared in the April issue of Commercial Interior Design under the headline, “Brilliant Technology”.

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